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30 October 2018

Interpreting and Photography in Trieste

I am currently on an old regional train somewhere in the Veneto countryside, rethinking of my experience during the past week and typing away about my time in Trieste. The sky is grey and some fields look dry as if it was winter already. But I am filled with happy feelings of contentedness and satisfaction after the past week spent in Trieste. It's been so magical and unexpected, and I can't wait to write it all down. 

Last week I had a couple of uneventful days and I had so much energy  that I couldn't fall asleep. I took my phone - a habit I usually try to avoid but I was really bored – and found an announcement.
They were looking for English-Italian interpreters for an international photography festival. That was only a few days ahead of the festival and it looked like an opportunity for students only. But I didn’t get discouraged, took a screenshot of it and thought I’d send an email first thing in the morning. I did and a few hours later I was added to the interpreters Whatsapp group. So apparently… I was in? Yes I was. Couldn’t believe it. After so much discouragement from the interpreting training where everyone told you that you wouldn’t find a single opportunity after the course I could only start jumping around and singing to myself. Next, I squeezed simultaneous and consecutive interpreting practice before and after work. I went on good old Speech Repository and Ted Talks and practiced, practiced and practiced again. It was so fun! I’d missed it so much and not feeling the pressure of exams made it much more enjoyable. I felt so content and close to my passion for languages again. Then, it was time to pack and travel! I haven’t been travelling on my own for a month and a half, which might seem like a short time for some but it’s quite a long period of time for me. I looked forward to completely relying on myself again and discovering new places. 

My trip was fairly smooth. I first travelled in the comfortable high speed train and extended my photography glossary. Then it was time for the stuffy, unfashionable regional train from Venice to Trieste, but it went fast enough. I reached my AirBnb flat and was welcomed by Victoria, a woman in her late 30s from Trieste. She was super kind and took some time to tell me about the house and Trieste. The building I stayed at was very old and dark, like most around the city centre. Of course, there was no lift to add some fashion to it. The flat itself was small but had everything you could possibly need. I learnt that in Trieste as in Barcelona, buildings can either overlook the inner courtyard or the road. Mine overlooked other houses and balconies which made it both quiet and dark.

I then went out for hot drinks with two of the interpreters I would work with, Francesca and Tiago. We got to know each other and chatted about interpreting shifts for the upcoming events. I got to meet Elisabetta, another interpreter, later on. We all got along from the start and it was so fun to work and hang out together after the events. 

Stella Polare - the cafe we met at

On my first morning, I went out to explore Trieste. I strolled along big avenues such as Corso Italia, until a whiff of marine breeze reached me. I was not expecting it and it struck me – smelling the sea in late October is not that common. I walked along Ponterosso and the harbourside, looking at the boats and seagulls. Despite being in the centre it felt very peaceful and quiet. I then went to the old town and explored the small streets around the area of San Giusto. I felt almost as if houses had remained in a past and never really changed. No window was open; no curious people looked out to see whose steps broke the neighbourhood’s silence. That still atmosphere made me think of all the life stories that enveloped these areas and homes and how it must have influenced people living there.  
Piazza Unità

The harbourside

 Ponterosso



The old town 
 Via (road) Gruzzulis - ancient Trieste family


Sleepy cats

I then continued walking and came across cafes and local shops. I found a flea market and bought a second-hand book called ‘Born in Histria’ by Anna Maria Mori, a journalist who was born in Histria when it was still a state of its own. The history of Trieste and the areas around it is fascinating and I thought I’d read a book of memories as opposed to an overrated, impartial tour guide. The book is about the author’s memories of Histria from her childhood and through her mother and things when she is living in Italy. 

'We buy old things' in dialect

After that, I fully committed to the festival and saw Trieste’s museums through the events I interpreted in. We interpreted during book presentations, magazines and fanzines presentations and during the award ceremonies. Even though we kept speaking about our (imaginary, we learnt later) booths until a day before the festival, we soon realised we’d have to interpret behind a banner, without headphones or any kind of glass or separation. In the end, it was actually fun to be near the interlocutors and we didn’t mind not having a booth. My favourite presentation was about a photography book on Iran through the eyes of an Italian woman. The speech was very graphic and I could picture it while she described bazaars, the dusty streets of Tehran and an elderly woman who had lost her husband in the Iran-Iraq war and who served tea in a temple to all of those who came by for a living. I also really enjoyed a Sicilian photographer’s presentation of his work, an expressive, black and white reportage of Sicilian children and adults in poorer areas. The first award ceremony was also a fantastic moment. Though it was 8pm and I had been interpreting since 11am, the whole room was buzzing with excitement. The winners were announced and the Polish lady I was interpreting for couldn’t help but turn to me and make comments in between my whispered sentences. Another crazy moment was delivering a consecutive interpretation for a Greek photographer in front of an audience. I’d always provided simultaneous interpreting and this was one of my first experiences with consecutive. 
After the festival events, I hung out with the other interpreters and got to know the studenty parts of Trieste, including local bars and restaurants. I had so much fun with them and still can’t believe how fast we made friends (yes, I can be that antisocial haha). I really hope I’ll be able to go back to Trieste soon for either work or pleasure. It’s definitely a place I’d love to spend more time in, especially because of the sea and cafes everywhere, and its kind people. Thanks for reading the post and feel free to share your comments below! 

Have you visited Trieste? What were your impressions of it?

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