Have you ever heard of Trieste?
You probably haven’t. Needless to say, even if you have been to Italy already, you probably have never visited it. Don’t worry, it is quite common. Trieste is a precious jewel hidden in the easternmost corner of Italy and many Italians have never been there as well.
That’s a real pity because Trieste is an amazing city. Unfortunately, it has a big flaw – which can be a perk, in a way: it is far away from almost every other Italian location.
Tucked in her little corner on the border to Slovenia, it is a bit difficult to reach. Unless you are going to either Slovenia or Croatia, there’s no reason to pass by Trieste and eventually visit it.
You go to Trieste if you really want to go to Trieste, if you see what I mean.
Actually, you can reach Trieste in a little more than 1 hour and a half from Venice, but most of the people just go away after visiting Venice, without doing the further stretch to Trieste.
I was one of those people myself, to be honest. I went to Venice many times, in the past, and every time there was so much to see there that it didn’t even cross my mind to go and see what Trieste had to offer.
I kept hearing great things about the city though and I added it to a sort of bucket list. The chance to finally see it came this summer, when we decided to spend our holidays in Slovenia. We had to pass by Trieste and we decided to stop there for a couple of nights, just to get an idea of the city.
Well, it was so beautiful I regret not having planned more days there.
I loved it because it is unlike every other Italian city. It has its own peculiar character, which you can find there and there only. You feel as if you are in Austria, sometimes, but there are the sea and the wind and the dazzling light that make everything different.
You breathe culture and literature and art. Sometimes you feel as if you are in Paris, but again it’s not, it’s such a strange feeling you experience only when you are there.
As you can see, I have really liked Trieste and I wish I could be able to go there for a longer period and live the city a bit more. I definitely recommend you visiting it – if you get the chance to reach that corner of Italy. You’ll discover a true Italian treasure.
Since I love lists, I came up with ten reasons you should add Trieste to your Italian trip and here they are.
1. as I just told you, the main reason for visiting Trieste is that it is really different from any other Italian city. They say that it is the most Mitteleuropean city in Italy, meaning that it looks a bit like Central European cities like Vienna or Prague or Budapest. But it still has its Italian character, making it an amazing mix of cultures and influences.
2. there is the largest square facing the sea in Europe. It is called Piazza Unità d’Italia, it is the heart of the city, the place where people meet and spend time together and it is its most iconic spot as well. Amazing during the day, incredibly romantic at night.
Piazza Unità d’Italia at night
3. it is the city of coffee and of cafès. The city’s status as a free port since the eighteenth-century caused a big rise in the trade of coffee in Trieste. Nowadays, Trieste’s is the biggest Mediterranean port in the sector and many big coffee companies have their headquarters there. Coffee is a staple in the culture of the city and old-style cafès add to its charm.
4. you can follow the steps of James Joyce, who spent 15 years in the city and experienced there one of the richest phases of his literary production. Trieste hosts a James Joyce Museum and you can walk around the city looking for the important spots of Joyce’s life there.
The statue of James Joyce in Trieste
5. you can take a trip on the tram to Opicina, the incredibly steep old-style tramway that takes you from the city center up to the Carso plateau, where you can get amazing views of the city and its gulf.
6. you can experience the bora, an incredibly strong wind that flows from the mountains into the Gulf of Trieste. It is an essential part of the city and helps to shape its peculiar character. They say that people from Trieste are mad because of the bora. I don’t know if this is true, but it is undeniably a strong factor, something that makes Trieste and its people what they are. They won’t be the same without the bora.
7. you can visit Miramare Castle, a lovely castle overlooking the sea, which has a very romantic story. It was built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg to live there with his beloved wife Charlotte. Unfortunately, the couple could enjoy the castle for four years only, because Maximilian had to leave for Mexico, where he got killed in 1867. Despite this sad story, the castle deserves a visit for its beautiful garden and the endless spots for amazing pictures you can find there.
Miramare Castle at golden hour
8. since Trieste has been influenced by many cultures, its cuisine is a unique mixture of flavors and tastes, which combines Mediterranean and Central European food traditions. The most typical place to eat in Trieste is a buffet, an old-style place where you can both eat a panino con prosciutto cotto, cren e senape (sandwich with ham, horseradish sauce and mustard) at the counter or sit down at a table for a misto di caldaia, a big, hearty stew with all kinds of meat inside.
9. once again, due to its incredible mixture of influences, Trieste has some of the best sweets I have ever tried, combining the Central European tradition and the Italian one. The results of this combination are amazing sweets like the presnitz, a nice pastry filled with nuts, chestnuts, almonds, pine nuts, raisin, you name it, or the Rigojanci cake and the Dobos cake, both of Hungarian origin, the pinza, a sweet bread typical of Easter, and many, many more. You definitely need some time to try them all, but it’s totally worth it.
10. it makes a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Venice. Once you are fed up with tourists and people and queues, you can hop on a train and enjoy some quality time in Trieste. By the way, do you know that there’s a Canal Grande in Trieste as well?