Perched high on a high above the medieval town of Piran, billed as the pearl of the Slovenian Meditteranean, sits the last resting place of those who’ve called the town home – the pokopališče. Next door, the football stadium, with its bleachers and floodlights, is everything Piran cemetery is not. On a match day, the place is heaving, but its guests are living, breathing, shouting, screaming embodiments of life whereas the cemetery is a quieter spot, with little by way of noise other than the occasional rustle of a leaf.
The cemetery is laid out in sections, some on different levels. Walking around you find yourself going up and down steps and turning to see the height you’ve left behind. It’s all rather beautiful. The views from the walls are spectacular, the activity in the seas below in sharp contrast to the quiet repose of those interred.
I was taken by the number of Fondas buried here and couldn’t help but wonder if Henry Fonda’s people came from hereabouts. But from what I can see, his patrilineal line originates with an ancestor from Genoa, Italy, a 6-7 hour drive from Piran. Not beyond the bounds of reason but not likely either.
Another grave that caught my eye belongs to one Bojan Mihakjlović. I spent a while wondering what he’d done for his 41 years on Earth and made a note to check later. Indeed his namesakes include a mixed martial artist from Serbia, a Serbian football midfielder and a Bosnian-Herzegovinian football defender, but of him, I could find no trace.
Of the 3000 or graves (including single graves, urns, niches, family tombs), the ones that fascinated me most were the tri-section wood-framed plots. I’ve never seen them before and can’t find any reference to them online. A Google image search brings up vegetable gardens and suggests I search for yard!
I missed out on the old ossuary, where bones are kept in wooden boxes with the family name and often a photo noted on the outside. The old ossuary is still visible, though it was difficult to tell if it was being emptied or being readied for more guests.
If you’re in Piran or thereabouts, it’s worth a visit. It’s open 06:00-22:00 in the summer and 07:00-18:00 in the winter. Address is Arze 1 6330 Piran.