Restoration Efforts Underway for Historic Ursus Pontoon in Trieste Harbor

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by InTrieste

In a bid to revive a piece of Trieste’s maritime history, restoration initiatives have been set in motion for the iconic Ursus pontoon, once a towering figure in the harbor’s landscape. Spearheaded by Italia Nostra, the endeavor aims not only to preserve a testament to the city’s past but also to cultivate it into a potential tourist attraction.

The Ursus, an imposing 80-meter floating crane, has stood dormant for decades, weathering the elements and succumbing to corrosion. However, recent discussions convened at Warehouse 26 of the Old Port have shed light on plans for its revival. Attended by key stakeholders including representatives from the Port Authority, the Municipality, the Maritime Directorate, and the Superintendence of Archaeology and Fine Arts of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the conference delineated a roadmap for the pontoon’s future.

Delving into the Ursus’ storied past, participants revisited its inception in the early 1900s to its final operational day on December 31, 1994. Notably, the pontoon’s dramatic escape in 2011, propelled by the fierce bora wind, served as a poignant reminder of its significance in local lore.

Amidst deliberations, attention turned to the logistics of its restoration and potential relocation. Antonella Caroli Palladini, national president of Italia Nostra, articulated the aspiration to return the Ursus to its former berth in the Old Port. Urgency underscored the need for swift action, with plans to bring the pontoon ashore for refurbishment.

While funding appears promising, with assurances from municipal authorities, the question of its final resting place remains contentious. Giorgio Rossi, municipal councilor for culture and tourism, advocated for a return to the sea, despite potential cost implications.

As Trieste navigates the delicate balance between preservation and progress, the fate of the Ursus pontoon symbolizes a broader narrative of heritage conservation in the city’s evolving waterfront landscape. With restoration efforts underway, the resurgence of this maritime relic promises to captivate both locals and tourists alike, serving as a beacon of Trieste’s rich maritime legacy.

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