Discovering Trieste: a bridge between the present and the past in Europe

Short-list of “to do things” in Trieste

I love Trieste.

I spent in Trieste more than 13 years of my life and I always feel a sense of melancholy, when my mind goes back to the time I lived there.

Trieste is very close to the borders of Slovenia and Austria. This is the reason why the first impression you may have visiting the city and its surroundings, is that you can feel like you are not looking at a typical Italian town. Being part of the Austrian territory from 1382 until 1919, Trieste was the historical Austrian harbor for long time. The influence of Austro-Hungarian cultural heritage is still a strong feature that characterizes the architecture of the city, even in the typical local cuisine and food and, more in general, in the attitude of people: apparently cold and reserved, distant and (at a first sight) almost unfriendly. But, no worries, after a while and a glass of local wine (and in this regard the choice offered by the region is exceptional) everybody will be friendly and glad to introduce you to the beauty of the city and a “spritz”, an aperitif typical of the North East region of Italy. You will also enjoy the possibility to learn some words of the local slang, used in all context of everyday life and absolutely necessary to request a cup of coffee in one of the historical cafeterias of Trieste. There are at least nine ways to taste coffee… and never forget that Trieste is also well known to be the city of coffee (for the presence of one of the most worldwide recognized coffee company, the Illycaffè).

Therefore, let’s start a short journey to see the most attractive places to visit for a quick stop in the city.

Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia

It is an immense square located at the forefront of the historic old town facing out towards the Adriatic Sea. Due to its huge size, Piazza Unitá d’ Italia is famous for being the largest square on the sea side in Europe.

The perimeter of the square is formed by beautiful and important buildings: The Town Hall, Palazzo del Governo, Palazzo del Lloyd Triestino, Palazzo Vanoli and Palazzo Pitteri. Each building features an impressive design and magnificent Austro-Hungarian architecture.

In the square, are placed also monuments, statues and a fountain in particular spots. You can play a game to seize each single element: from the Town Hall, dominated by the bell tower on which two bronze statues of Micheze e Jacheze, marking the time each hour, to the Fountain of the Four Continents, the bronze statue of Carlo VI and two flagpoles on the sea side, which are used in solemn commemorations, waving the Italian Flags.

Molo Audace

Molo Audace, formerly named Molo San Carlo, is a beautiful place to see the landscape of the Gulf of Trieste: it is a beautiful walkaway long 250 meters, facing the Adriatic Sea and (on the back) the view of the city and the plateau of Karst, from the flatland to the mountains. Should you plan to go to Trieste, do not miss the opportunity for a walk on the pier. The best time of the year to see the place is during the Barcolana regatta, an annual appointment that falls on every second Monday of October and one of the most crowded regattas in the world: a unique event on the international sailing stage, bringing on the same starting line expert sailors and sailing lovers, on boats of different sizes and classes (for more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcolana_regatta).

Molo Audace is a place which boasts a visit at any time of day and in any season, during the winter and summer: in the morning, when the sun is shining and the breeze is sweet and fresh and in the late afternoon, for a walk in enchanting sunsets on the sea, before a “spritz”, or for a simple walk along the “Rive” (the forefront of the city by the sea) or a stop for some relax. You may happen to be in Trieste with the cold “bora” winds in winter, a wind that comes from the North East region of Europe that can reach a speed of more than 100 km/h.

Historic cafes

Historical cafés in Trieste are a real must during a visit of the city and, of course, you a wide choice. Just to name the most famous cafeterias of historical and importance, we can name: Caffè Tommaseo, Caffe Caffè degli Specchi (in the beautiful framework of Piazza Unità), Caffè Tergesteo, Antico Caffè Torinese, Caffè San Marco, Caffè Urbanis, Caffè Pasticceria Pirona. All these places can be considered as symbol of the city to visitors and locals alike: here you can stop by for a coffee, for a meeting to discuss about job and business, to assist to presentation of cultural and artistic vernissages and to spend some time alone with one book , eating typical cakes such as the “presnits” or “pinza”, an immersive experience in the refined atmosphere of internal historical design made of wooden furniture and velvet armchairs. Famous writers such as Svevo, Saba, Stendhal and Joyce used to spend some of their time there and you can find many signs of their life in Trieste, especially in the historical cafes.

Castello Miramare

Miramare Castle (Italian: Castello di Miramare; German: Schloss Miramar; Slovene: Grad Miramar) is a 19th-century castle on the Gulf of Trieste, surrounded by the Miramare Park and facing the whole wonderful view of the Gulf of Trieste, until the coasts of Slovenia. Miramare is the Italian expression of “Miramar” which means “look to the sea“.It was the residence of the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium; between the 1869 and the 1896 the castle was one of the residences of Franz Joseph’s wife: the Empress Elizabeth, better known as Sissi of Austria. Beside the historical importance of the place, you cannot miss the opportunity of a visit to the Castle. The place hosts a natural marine reserve and is one of the most beautiful place for a rest under the sun, on the summertime. People of Trieste use to consider the seaside (as known as ‘Barcola’, a place along the sea and a long swimming spot starting from the central railways station of the city and leading to the Castle) as a never-ending beach, accessible in every moment of the day and completely free: the ideal place to have some rest, with a book or a newspaper, to meet friends or simply to have a sunbath.

Canal Grande and Ponte Rosso

On one side of Piazza Unità, you can visit the Canale Grande (1756), a long harbor used in the past by sailing ships and now filled with small boats. Cafés line the wide walkways at either side and behind them are placed beautifully buildings and the main streets of downtown Trieste, where you can spend some time for shopping. The beauty of the place is also enriched by the Trieste’s largest church, the Neoclassical Sant’Antonio, built in 1849, while on the right is of the square there is the Serbian Orthodox church of San Spiridione, which deserves a visit to see the internal decorations and the exquisite frescos and oil paintings. If you want to have some rest and seat in one place to taste the local typical food, I can warmely recommend the places I visit every time I have the chance to go to Trieste, even for a short weekend getaway.

Osteria da Marino

In this almost hidden and small corner of the old quarter of Trieste, you can find a tasty variety of appetizers or plates of cheese, charcuterie, first course like pasta with both meat and seasonal vegetables. In a cosy atmosphere, with a retro touch and a cellar containing more than 500 specially selected wines. Needless to say that Osteria da Marino is one of my favourite places to go either for a simple dinner or to spend some time with friends. Most of people you can meet in this place are rugby players or rugby passionate: the Osteria is definitely, the Head Quarter of the local Rugby teams and players. All the internal walls and corners are decorated with Rugby memorabilia, balls, photography, sweaters and shirts, hanging on the walls or placed among rare and refined bottles of wines and beers. It is the ideal after-hours’ place, open until late at night and always available to prepare a meal in a simple but genuine way. At Marino’s you will never feel alone, it is always full of people especially in the weekends, when, once the tables and desk are full and happily noisy, young and old bunches of happy people and night owls are in the small street, out of the doors of this special place.

Salumare

Fish lovers? A laboratory of the fish – raw fish and artisan smokehouse – is for you ! Salumare is a really nice place, in the old Via di Cavana, the old heart of Trieste. It is quite similar to a tapas place, but based on fish in diversified variations. Ideal place for an aperitif before dinner or a quick stop for a short lunch break. I use to stop by at Salumare at least one time for each day I spend in Trieste. I love to enjoy the wonderful taste of fish tapas, combined with some sips of local wine (either a good glass of high quality white wine like the Vitovska wine, or a cup of Prosecco, sparkling and fresh) eating fish canapés with the “baccalà mantecato”, a creamy spread layer of cod on toasted bread, even though all the tapas offered worth a stop there.

 

Buffet da Pepi Sciavo

Pepi Sciavo is probably the most famous and representative places where to eat a quick meal in the city. Here you can find a long and historical tradition of dishes plunging its roots in the tradition of surrounding regions of Friuli, Alto Adige, Austria and Slovenia as well as traditional Italian recipes: pork ham (fresh and cured), ribs, magnificent sausages (in Italian: ‘cotechino’ and ‘zampone’, from the foot of pork meat), boiled pork meat, tongue and head (testina), as well as various frankfurter- and “Italian”-like sausages. The ultimate touch of taste of dishes is a generous amount of freshly grated horseradish, or kren, as it’s called commonly in the region together with sauerkraut and home made, hot mustard. If you love pork meat, this is your place and you will mark it on your personal kitchen guide.

Emanuela Corazzi, Editor in Chief, InnoVibe Magazine