At the beginning of the 19th century, taking a bath in Trieste was considered an activity to be encouraged for the well-being and health of citizens.
In Trieste the “tociada” took place even before the birth of the bathing establishments. Old Town boys and sailors at the beginning of the 19th century used to dive into the waters of the port or into the Grand Canal between one boat and another, risking being hit by a sailing ship that transported goods. “Anyone found swimming naked between one Lazaretto and the other will inevitably be arrested and punished, and as for the boys, punished will also be punished”. The offending area was the space between the Lazzaretto Vecchio, that of San Carlo (which stood right where the Museo del Mare is today) and the Lazzaretto Nuovo of Maria Teresa in the Roiano area. Taken from a “Notice” dating back to 7 June 1809, signed by Cavalier Ignazio de Capuano, Dean of the Magistrate. “Place of public baths” when this writing appeared on a pole you could bathe. Surely outside the lazarets and especially in Sant’Andrea where sailors could train themselves in swimming. In the first decades of the 19th century, the “floating baths” arose on the stretch of sea in front of the city, anchored to rafts, hence the Triestine saying “let’s go to the bath”.
On 24 May 1823, in front of Piazza Giuseppina (today Piazza Venezia), the first city bathing establishment, the “Soglio di Nettuno”, was opened, accessible by boat or on a footbridge. Inside, tanks were built for taking hot and fresh water baths, a cafeteria with refreshments, an aquarium with flora and fauna of the gulf and even a smoking room. On June 13, 1832, the “Bagno” was visited by the Emperor of Austria Francesco I. The owner and inventor of the bathroom was the merchant Domenico d ‘Angeli.
This was followed by the construction of other floating “Bagni” such as the “Bagno Maria”, moored at the San Carlo pier (today Molo Audace). It was a floating establishment, built in wood, 50 meters long by 26 meters and in summer it was moored at molo San Carlo (today Molo Audace). It had a capacity of two hundred people, reserved, it seems, especially for the customers of the luxurious Hotel “De la Ville”, on the banks. It had been built at the San Rocco shipyard in Muggia and, here, in winter, it would return for maintenance. Built in 1857, active until 1911, when it was destroyed by a storm. The “Bagno Boscaglia” with wooden structure, anchored in the open sea, often disassembled at the end of the bathing season or anchored in a winter bag. A special vaporetto transported bathers to the “Boscaglia”. A few years after its inauguration, it changed owner and became the “Bagno Buchler” and in 1898 it was completely renovated and modernized. In 1891 it was named “National Float”. Unfortunately, the bath was completely destroyed together with the other floating baths, in the night between 13 and 14 June 1911 due to a violent storm that seriously damaged the shores in many places, sinking boats and sailing ships and causing some deaths.
The “Bagno Fontana” was built around 1899 and was not a floating “Bagno” but well positioned on the ground near the Sacchetta. Luxuriously served by the horse-drawn tram, it seems to have been destroyed for the construction of the Campo Marzio station. Joyce mentions the Bagno Fontana in the Trieste column, in a passage entitled “Giorgino”, dedicated to her newborn son: «I used to keep it at sea in the baths of Fontana and …
At the end of the 19th century, the cliff along the Santa Teresa pier (today Fratelli Bandiera) was the favorite place for poor people to sunbathe on the rocks called cape ”(like the lace on the ladies’ dresses). The first public bathing establishment was built in the early 1900s, the inauguration seems to have taken place in 1903 even though previously a bathing establishment, the “Bagno Fortuna”, already existed.
At the end of the 19th century, there was a lack of specific permanent structures that would allow especially the poorest citizens to take advantage of the benefits of the bathroom. In 1903 the Municipality of Trieste built, near the cliff along the Santa Teresa pier (today Fratelli Bandiera), the first public bathing establishment called “Bagno Alla Lanterna” whose name derives from the lantern placed on the pier in 1832 as a maritime lighthouse. The pier, on which the establishment develops, rests on the remains of an ancient structure of Roman derivation that connected the mainland with the islet or rock called dello Zucco on which the foundations of the lighthouse rested. The “Bagno” was then called “El Pedocin” by the people of Trieste, perhaps because there were as many people as there were mussels (in dialect “pedoci”) attached to the rocks, or because the military went there to “snoop” or,
finally, because the people brought “Ciodin” nails (small nail) from home to hang their clothes. It was built in wood complete with a dividing fence between men and women and the penalties against any trespassing between the two areas were very severe.
In the 1930s, the wooden structures were replaced with concrete and thus the famous wall was born that still divides the plant in half, extending into the sea. “El Pedocin” remains the only bathing establishment in Europe where a wall strictly separates the beach into two areas, one reserved for women and children under the age of 12 and the other for males, arousing the curiosity of journalists and tourists from Worldwide.