In Trieste, as in other cities during the course of the 13th century, different brotherhoods were set up; some were strictly devotional while others were for the social and organizational needs of various crafts.
Among these there is still the memory of that of the thirteen noble families from Trieste, who claimed they were descended from local Roman aristocrats.
According to the tradition they got together on 2nd February 1246 to form the Brotherhood of St. Francis, later called the Thirteen Families, at the church of St. Francis of the Friars Minor, where today there is the church of the Beata Vergine del Soccorso (S.Antonio Vecchio) in Piazza Hortis.
The thirteen families were Argento, Baseggio, Belli, Bonomo, Burlo, Cigotti, Giuliani, Leo, Padovino, Pellegrini, Petazzi, Stella and Toffani.
They were all merchant families and earned their living from salt works, farming, vineyards and the ownership of land and property.
The brotherhood had a closed number of 40 members and no member from another aristocratic family was accepted.
It was suppressed, with other brotherhoods, in 1773 on the orders of Emperor Joseph II. They were always involved in civic institutions and some members distinguished themselves outside Trieste too.
The first family to die out was the Toffani family at the end of the 16th century and the last one was the Burlo family in 1918.
The so called "Wheel of the Thirteen Families", made in stone, comes from a monument which was built by the sculptor Ivan Rendic to commemorate the fifth centenary of the Dedication of Trieste to Austria (1882), inaugurated on 25th March 1889 in the square in front of the station (which is now Piazza della Libertà) and demolished in 1919.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants