Trieste is the capital of Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region in the North-east of Italy, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Taking advantage of its perfect location on the sea, Trieste used to be a very prominent port city.
Remnants of the past can be seen in piazzas (squares) along the water’s edge. Present day locals are more likely to appreciate Trieste’s setting by taking a leisurely stroll along the water and admiring the beautiful sea views.
Relatively ignored by the general tourist population, Trieste is a destination that offers the open-minded traveler something different from the other big name destination cities in Italy.
Due to its unique geographical position, Trieste’s culture is influenced by several of the surrounding regions. It shares a close eastern border with Slovenia, which lends Trieste a Balkan touch.
Northern neighbor Austria also has a noticeable impact on the style of food and sweets you’ll find throughout the city.
Furthermore, reflections of several eastern European countries can be spotted in the architecture throughout Trieste, in addition (of course) to the traditional Italian flair.
Things to see in Trieste
The Adriatic Sea can be admired from Trieste’s Barcola, a paved walkway that runs north to south along the waterfront. Spend the day at the beach or go for a stroll and enjoy the people watching. It’s also the perfect place to catch a stunning evening sunset.
Just past the southern end of the Barcola, on the Gulf of Trieste, sits the Miramare Castle. The castle was built in the mid-19th century for the Archduke of Austria, Ferdinand Maximillian and his wife, Charlotte.
The attractive white walls and prominent size of the castle perched atop an ocean cliff side is quite an impressive sight. But, just wait until you get a look inside.
The castle sits on 54 acres of land that was revamped with dozens of species of tropical plants. Once inside, prepare to be awed by the master bedroom, which was designed to mimic the ship cabin the Archduke sailed when he was a Navy Commander.
Described as luxurious, elaborate and eclectic, the Miramare Castle is a must see for every Trieste tourist.
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Take an afternoon and wander around Trieste’s charming Old Town. Twisting alleys, winding cobblestone roads and medieval houses lend a quaint feel alongside an otherwise bustling city. The area is also mostly closed to traffic, further enhancing the old-fashioned feel.
San Giusto Castle and Cathedral
Also known as the Trieste Cathedral, San Giusto is considered the main church in the area. Original construction began in the 6th century and it has since been destroyed, rebuilt, and renovated over time.
Within and around the cathedral, you will find many works of art in the form of the altar, mosaics, the bell tower, museum, the Carlist mausoleum, and courtyard.
Located within the Austrian Quarter, Unity Square is the largest sea front square in Europe and an iconic symbol of Trieste. A walk out to the square’s edge provides a beautiful panoramic view of the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding buildings.
The square was built when Trieste was a dominant port city, so inside the square you can find City Hall (Palazzo del Municipio) and other relevant government buildings, important palaces, and historic monuments. There are plenty of examples of Italian and Eastern European architecture including Baroque and Neoclassical.
Cruise Along The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal of Trieste (Canal Grande di Trieste) was constructed in 1754 in order to allow boats direct access to the city center. Today the lively canal is lined with shops and restaurants and is a great place to enjoy an evening drink after a day of exploring.
Another benefit of Trieste’s location is the Slavic influence on the food.
Along with authentic Italian cuisine, you will also find some famous dishes from Austria and neighboring countries. Try the traditional Italian gnocchi, stuffed with ham or plum for a Slavic twist. Sample the Jota, soup made with pork, potatoes, cabbage, and ground beans. Or tempt your taste buds with a creamy, rich risotto.
To satisfy the sweet tooth, check out the bakeries for the famous Austrian cakes like torte, krapfen, strucolo (strudel) and chiffeletti (cookies).
You can also rub elbows with locals who order drinks from a window outside the bar and chat with each other after work.
Shopping in Trieste
Browse through Trieste’s covered market for organic foods and other goods. Fruits, vegetables, fish, cheese, and meat, as well as fresh flowers and souvenirs, can be found on the ground floor. The second floor is good for clothing, books, and antiques.
Trieste used to be an international shopping hub for eastern Europeans, so you’re also able to find furniture, glassware, silverware, glassworks, and paintings.
How to get to Trieste Italy
The International Airport of Ronchi dei Legionari is 33km outside the city center. Domestic flights from Milan, Rome and Genoa are available as well as international access from London, Munich, and several other large European cities.
From the airport, there is the option to take a bus, which runs twice an hour from the airport to the city center. There is also the Monfalcone Railway Station, which is another way to access the city.
Is Trieste safe?
Trieste’s position as a border city makes it one of the safest in Italy. This is due to the amount of border police and security within the city. In contrast to other cities in Italy, there are not too many issues with petty crimes such as pickpocketing and purse snatching.
Even walking the streets at night is considered relatively safe. Of course, as with any city, you want to take reasonable precautions.
Trieste is a place where culture clash meets Italian class. The city is one of a kind in that it seamlessly accepts outside culture and synchronizes it with its own. Trieste is unique in that the visitor can experience not only authentic Italian culture, but that of Eastern Europe as well.
Note: There are plenty of guided tours from and within Trieste, for those who like to leave the planning to someone else.
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