Trieste is a hidden gem located 160 km from Venice. Most people end their trip in Italy in Venice, which is a shame because Trieste has a lot to offer…
That was not the case with me. I arrived in Trieste from the direction of Slovenia with the intention of making the most of one day in Trieste.
Trieste has its own character, which differs from the rest of Italy. No wonder, because they have been here for almost 500 years. ruled by the Habsburgs. The famous Maria Theresa devotedly worked on the arrangement of the city. During her reign, it was prescribed that streets should be laid out at right angles and that buildings should not be more than three stories high, so as not to block the view of the sea.
In Trieste, the city between the hills and the sea, “Austro-Hungarian charm and Mediterranean ease of living” are mixed in the best possible way. This is a city of paradoxes, which arise from the fact that it is located on the very border of Italy and is closer to Vienna than to Rome.
It has everything: from beaches and parks, to museums, cafes and castles. That is why it is worth a visit, even for one day, because you will experience and feel a lot.
Trieste is the administrative center of the Friuli Venecia Giulia region, which is inhabited by about 200,000 inhabitants.
It is located on the coast of the Trieste Bay but is surrounded by hills and you can climb from 0 to 350 m above sea level in less than 10 minutes.
Trieste is a compact city with numerous alleys, which can easily be explored with a coffee break, some lunch or a strudel and an aperitif, so you can visit and see a lot in just 24 hours.
Whether you are a fan of architecture or food, the sea or art, you can find it all in this city. This guide will help you how to best organize your visit within a day.
This is what you should see:
Piazza Unità d’Italia, the largest square facing the sea
Trieste doesn’t look like the rest of Italy because it hasn’t always been Italian. That is why it is no wonder that the square we are talking about is surrounded on three sides by buildings, which are the hallmark of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and on the fourth side it faces the sea and is considered the largest square on the coast in Europe.
Palacio del Municipio, Fontana dei quatro continents are also located here.
At that time, Australia had not yet been discovered. The statues on the fountain represent the largest rivers on the continents, namely: Danube, Nile, Ganges and La Plata, as well as a column with a statue of Emperor Charles VI of Habsburg, who declared Trieste a free port for coffee.
Piazza dela Borsa
The city square in the center, which is connected to the Unification Square.
The building of the old stock exchange from the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the neoclassical style and some other interesting monuments dominate here.
Take a walk through the alleys
Try not to be knocked down by Bora, the wind blowing from the northeast at a speed of 160 km/h. That’s why whenever you’re in Trieste, bring a jacket.
Bora has its own legend. Aeolus, the god of the wind, had a daughter named Bora. One day, she fell in love with a Greek hero named Tergesteo. Aeolus did not agree with their love and ordered Tregesteo to be executed. Bora, sick with pain, turned her misery into a wind which, when it blows, leaves no stone unturned, and the place where the blood of her slain dear fell, became red with the sumac of the plant that covers the rocks in autumn.
Take a walk along the pier of Audace
The most famous pier in Trieste was created at the place where the ship San Carlo sank in the 18th century. At that time it was only 95m long.
It was extended after World War I and when a ship with a similar name arrived in the port, the locals started calling it that.
Today, Audace is 250 m long, is made of large tiles and isn’t friendly to people in wheelchairs.
But that’s why it has a very nice view on all four sides and the most beautiful pictures of the whole city are made here.
Trieste has a very deep harbor, so it is a favorite place for large ships to dock, which is rare for such a small town.
Visit the Roman amphitheater
It is located under the San Giusto hill from the 1st or 2nd century BC. It was excavated in 1930. It is believed that around 3500 spectators could fit here. It is quite well preserved.
Take a walk around the Grande Canal
This canal was dug to allow ships to unload their cargo closer to the city center. It is surrounded by the buildings of merchants, who made the city great.
At the top is the Sant’Antonio Thaumaturgo church.
Visit the Orthodox Church of Saint Spyridon
Next to the Grande Canal there is also a beautiful Orthodox church dedicated to Saint Spyridon.
The construction was started in 1751 and inside, in addition to the beautiful iconostasis, there are silver candelabras, which were a gift from the Grand Duke Pol I Petrović Romanov. The iconostasis and icons were made in Russia and are of great artistic value.
Some inscriptions can also be seen in the church.
Take a picture with James Joyce
The canal used to have several bridges. Today, one remains, on which there is a statue dedicated to James Joyce, who spent almost 15 years here on two occasions with his wife Nora. He loved this city so much that he wrote that his heart remained in Trieste.
He is thought to have written his capital work, Ulysses, here, as well as making a sketch for the Dubliners.
Drink coffee in Trieste
Trieste is a city of coffee. One third of the coffee that arrives in Italy is roasted here and later distributed, and a good part is drunk. The most important law that applies in Italy, including in Trieste, is that cappuccino can only be ordered before noon. Otherwise, you’ll get scowls.
In Trieste, the ritual of drinking coffee has been raised to the level of art. This did not happen by accident. Namely, when this part of the world was ruled by the Habsburg monarchy, Trieste, as its most important port, became the center, where ships brought large quantities of goods, including coffee for the Viennese. They gladly accepted it even during the wars with Turkey.
Trieste is home to two famous coffee brands founded by non-Italians, Illy and Hausebrandt. Hermann Hausebrandt, an Austrian captain, was the first to start the business of roasting and selling coffee and the first to pack coffee in metal boxes. Madjer Ferenc Illy was the first to make an automated coffee machine and founded the University of Coffee in Trieste.
Drinking coffee was accompanied by the opening of cult cafes that in many ways resemble those that can be seen in Vienna, such as Caffè San Marco, founded in 1914 and offering books in addition to coffee, Caffè degli Specchi on Unification Square, which was Joyce’s favorite cafe, Caffè Tommaseo, the oldest cafe in the city, was founded in 1825 and served ice cream for the first time in Trieste. There used to be over 100 of them in the city.
Coffee is so important in Trieste that there is a special terminology that you need to know in order to be understood. So for example: espresso is Nerro, cappo is macchiato and so on. The most important coffee in Trieste is capo in b. It is served in slightly larger glass and can be with a little milk, a lot of milk or without milk. If you know this, they will recognize you as a local.
Try the local food
Of course, pizza and pasta reign here, but also some other specialties, which are characteristic only for this climate. However, atypical ingredients are also used in Trieste: cabbage, mustard and horseradish. The Habsburgs influenced architecture. They also brought the Italians coffee, as well as some dishes, which I have to mention here. Those are:
Jota, which is made from beans, boiled cabbage and potatoes. In some versions, it also contains sausage and its main task is to warm the soul and drive away melancholy.
Another dish that you must try is the cotto-mustard-cress sandwich. It will come in handy if you don’t want to sit in restaurants. It’s a very generous piece of bread with ham that needs nothing but a little mustard and some grated horseradish. Add to this a spritzer and the atmosphere is complete.
Trieste lies on the sea, so Sardoni is unavoidable, which are sardines rolled in flour and fried in oil. Since they are fresh, they do not need any additives and you can eat them while watching the ships from the pier of Audace.
Of course, you can also get desert in Trieste. In the first place is ice cream.
If you still have 24 hours in Trieste, then visit:
1. Miramare Castle
2. The church on the hill, Monte Grisa, which the locals, due to its specific appearance, also call Formadgino, also offers a spectacular view of the Trieste Bay.
3. Climb the lighthouse Faro della Vittoria completed in 1927, one of the highest with 70m has 300 steps and there is also an elevator, but I did not check. At the foot of the lighthouse are the remains of the anchor from the ship Audace, which was the first Italian ship to enter the port of Trieste after World War I, the lighthouse was made of stone from Istria
4. The second viewpoint is Castelo di San Giusto from the 15th century, which offers the most beautiful view. There is a weapons museum as well as the original statues of Mikeza and Jakeza that show the exact time. You can go up the stairs or by bus. I postponed my visit because of Miramare Castle, which you will read about in a future post.
5. Visit the Catedrale di San Giusto from the 14th century, which also has a tower with a lookout and huge bells. There are mosaics from the 6th century on the floor, because before the cathedral there were Roman temples here. The cathedral was named after a priest who was executed here in the 3rd century.
Trieste offers a lot in 24 hours. That’s why, although it is located next to the much more visited Venice, it should be given a chance. In addition, unlike the competition, it is much more accessible for people in wheelchairs. I could spend another day in Trieste, it would be a pleasure.
Have you been to Trieste?
Did I miss something?
Traveled and enjoyed,