Since the Fascist period, the Italian government has worked to rewrite history in order to present Trieste as a primarily Italian city, and according to filmmaker and amateur historian Luca Wieser, this program of Italianization continues today. In the 1930s, this involved mass deportations of non-Italians and mass immigration of Dalmatian Italians, and now it involves using schools to teach an Italian version of history.
Wieser is a member of the extremist (and fringe) Free Territory of Trieste movement, which seeks independence for the city.
Another member of the group, Giorgio Deschi, has an even more extreme vision for the city: He believes it to be the New Jerusalem of the book of Revelation, and he quotes Hermes Trismegistus in support! Get a load of this description of Deschi’s plans to rebuilt the canal area now called the Piazza St. Antonio, which might have come from the pen of Scott Wolter or Alan Butler:
[Deschi] quoted Hermes Trismegistus, the mythical author of a corpus of second- and third-century Alexandrian mystical texts: “As above, so below.” It’s known as the “Hermetic principle” in varying strands of occultist thought: the idea that symbolic ritual action can mirror, and effect, cosmic change. He drew for me the shape of the church and the canal: one phallic, the other distinctively feminine. He asked if I understood; the union of the masculine—the church—and the feminine—the water—would result in the birth of a new age, a new dawn, not just for Trieste, but for the entire world.
He uses numerology based on such bizarre data as the number of religions practiced in the city and the number of Empress Maria Theresa’s children to determine that Trieste is, by alphanumeric substitution, the site of … wait for it … the GRAAL. Yes, the Holy Grail. Where have we heard about secret Grail codes before? (Cough ... Minnesota ... cough.)
“Of course I’m crazy,” Deschi told Burton. “But it’s a beautiful madness.”
I’m going to guess that the Italian government disagreed when it found out he was trying to get the attention of Vladimir Putin to foment Russian intervention in Trieste.
The disconcerting thing is that Deschi has created a cult around his occult beliefs, which he calls the Agape movement, and he has attracted a number of people in support of his quasi-mystical vision of the city. Imagine if our own fringe historians stopped caring so much for money or glory and instead turned their beliefs into a political movement. Deschi likely doesn’t have enough influence to interest Russia in Trieste, but imagine if crazier and more powerful celebrities ever tried to foment international intrigue in service of a nutty vision of occult triumph. Here we see in miniature the problems this can produce.