The Old Cimitery

The old cemetery in via del Monte – Museum of the Jewish Community in Trieste “Carlo e Vera Wagner”.

In Trieste, a city of much sorrow

and great beauty of landscape and sky,

there is a steep road we know as Via del Monte.

It begins with a synagogue

and ends with a cloister; halfway up

there is a chapel, and from a patch of grass

you can glimpse the dark rush of life below,

the sea with its ships and the headland,

the crowd and the tents in the market.

Next to this slope there is also an abandoned

graveyard, where no funerals are ever held.

They no longer bury anyone there, as far as I

can remember: it’s the old cemetery

of the Jews, and I cherish it in memory

whenever I think of my forebears lying there

after lifetimes of suffering and trade,

all of like mind and appearance.


[Umberto Saba, Tre vie/Three streets, in Songbook. Selected Poems, selected, translated and introduced by Stephen Sartarelli, The Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York 1998, p. 39]


Until the opening of this cemetery in 1843, for four centuries the Jewish community in Trieste buried its dead in an area located between San Giusto Hill and via del Monte. In 1908 the City Council expropriated this plot of land, dismantling the tombs and transferring in this ossuary the exhumed remains.

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