Often, to return to my home
I take a dark street in the old city.
Yellow is reflected in some puddle
a few lights, and the street is crowded.
Here among the people who come and go
from the tavern to the house or to the brothel,
where the detritus are goods and men
of a great sea port,
I find, passing, infinity
Here a prostitute and a sailor, the old man
what a blasphemy, the female who quarrels,
the dragon who sits at the shop
of the fryer,
the tumultuous girl gone mad
they are all creatures of life
the Lord is stirred in them, as in me.
Here I feel humble in company
my thoughts become
purer where the way is uglier.
“Cittavecchia” Umberto Saba
Behind the Roman Theater, in the heart of the Old Town district, following the slope of the Colle di San Giusto, there is one of the oldest streets in Trieste “Via Donota” considered as the road that connected Aquileia with the central part of the ancient Tergeste, on the extension of the Cardo maximus.
In the Middle Ages at the entrance to the road stood the Torre-Porta Donota, a crenellated tower with a square plan, equipped with a drawbridge and a moat full of water, built to defend one of the main entrances within the city walls and to the castle of San Giusto. After the urban development of the nineteenth century, the original facade of the gate was no longer visible because it was covered by a modern building and Piazza Donota was built in the space in front, characterized by the construction of new buildings.
From 1981 to 1986 during some building renovation works, part of the medieval structures of the Tower were found but also Roman ruins, a building dating back to the 1st century, graves from the 4th century and other burials and amphorae, all carefully preserved in the Antiquarium in via Donota, opened by the Superintendency on 14 December 1985 and located on the corner of via Donota and via Battaglia.
In the Androna degli Scalini that connects via del Teatro Romano and via Donota, there was a public wash house that worked until 1936.
At the corner of via Donota and via del Crocefisso there is a shrine called “Pontal de Cristo”, hence the name of the street. The original perhaps of medieval origin was destroyed by fire in 1931 and replaced by a first that was stolen on 23 December 1980 together with the crown above and, then, by a second made by the sculptor Renzo Possenelli.
The building in Via Donota at no. 16 stands on a pre-existence of medieval origin as confirmed by the excavations conducted in 1982 which made it possible to identify the original masonry, consisting of well-squared sandstone blocks but also to discover fragments of tiles, yellow and red plaster and parts of mosaic tiles black, which testify to the presence of ancient houses.
On the main facade of the building there is a medieval mullioned window with arches in Istrian stone, with a slender central column and a capital in the shape of a truncated and overturned quadrangular pyramid. Another window, of which only a few traces remain, opens at the left corner of the elevation.
Via Donota was one of the main streets of the city full of shops and inhabited by many sea workers.
In this street the Ploner brothers created a new accordion keyboard, called Trieste-style, in their musical instrument workshop, which achieved great success between the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s.