June 19, 2009 / 11:15 AM / 10 years ago

Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Trieste, Italy

TRIESTE, Italy (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore the central European melting pot which is the Italian port city of Trieste?

A Reuters correspondent with local knowledge helps visitors to get the most out of a visit to the city that only became definitively part of Italy in 1954 and where James Joyce wrote part of “Ulysses.”


8 p.m. - Drive down past cliffs and trees into the city of 200,000 people, a northeastern outpost of Italy with the Slovenian and Croatian borders not far away.

Drive past the rail station and just beyond the city center to L’Albero Nascosto. The small homely hotel, not from the seafront, boasts large rooms and breakfasts of cheese, bread and jams.

9 p.m. - Take a stroll along the seafront to get your bearings. Be ready for the wind, called the Bora, which often blows gustily across the city, sometimes at up to 160 km (100 miles) an hour.

Along the seafront a series of restaurants beckon. Upmarket is the Nastro Azzurro, which offers fish in traditional surroundings.

For those with tighter budgets, or with a more Germanic taste, there is a beer hall, the Birreria Lowenbrau, with a range of German-style beers, sausage and other meaty dishes.


9 a.m. - To get a feel for the city’s commercial roots in the 1800s, try the Museo Revoltella. Baron Pasquale Revoltella was a leader in making the city a center for trade and for insurance companies. His imposing home is a museum and the library, ballroom and sculptured entrance are particularly impressive. A modern art gallery is on the same site.

11 a.m. - Time for coffee and cake. Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia is the center of the city and home to Austrian-style coffee bars such as Caffe degli Specchi and the nearby Caffe Tommaseo with a ready array of creamy cakes. Coffee has to be the local Illy brand.

The piazza itself is a treasure and one of the largest three-sided squares facing the sea.

Noon - The tourist office in Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia offers a walking tour with audio guide which takes in all the important city center locations. They include squares, churches, museums, the San Giusto castle, the Roman theater, and the old Jewish ghetto.

The tourist office also offers a guided tour in the footsteps of Joyce, who lived in Trieste from 1904 to 1915 and taught English there. One of his students was Italo Svevo, who became one of Italy’s leading modern writers.

Joyce returned after World War One, when the city had been transferred from Austria-Hungary to Italy, and lived there from 1919 to 1920.

3 p.m. - No visit to Trieste is complete without a visit to the Miramare Castle, now a museum. The coastal castle completed in 1860 is perched on a clifftop about four km (2.5 miles) north of the city center.

6 p.m. - Time to head back to town for a pre-dinner cocktail. The local tipple is wine spritzer, or spritz, usually a local wine such as prosecco, a sparkling wine, with fizzy water or soda.

However, you may prefer a more invigorating Aperol Spritzer which adds the Italian Aperol red herb-based fizzy drink to the basic recipe. You can replace the Aperol with vermouth or Cinzano to get a vermouth or Cinzano spritz.

8 p.m. - It’s dinner time. Boiled meats are a favorite dish, as across much of the north of Italy. In Trieste the dish may come with sauerkraut, spicy cabbage and other Slavic components.

11 p.m. - To round off the day a visit to a late bar does not go amiss. The bar district in the Piazza della Borsa and in narrow streets behind Piazza dell’Unita is filled at the weekend with young people. A more expensive option is the nearby Colonial Cafe discobar which is open until 5 a.m.


10 a.m. - Church. No risk in Trieste for Christians of not finding a church to match their religion. The commercial links of the city have provided a wide variety such as Serb and Greek Orthodox.

Noon - Trieste and its bay is surrounded by hills and there are walks to take with fabulous views across to the coastal inlets and bays of Slovenia and Croatia.

To reach the hills, take the number 2 tram from Piazza Oberdan, named for a Trieste Italian who was executed after a failed attempt to kill the Austrian emperor.

The tram passes through steep streets on its way to the town of Opicina. But get off at the top of the hill, just before Opicina, to find the Napoleonica and other well-maintained hilltop paths.

2 p.m. - The main route is to Prosecco, which is about three km (two miles) from the starting point and includes a path through rocky cliffs.

4 p.m. - The limestone plateau above Trieste, known as the Carso, was the site of fierce fighting during World War One. It is now home to numerous local markets, known as osmizas, where farmers sell products such as wine, meats and cheese.

The area around Sgonico, near Prosecco, is particularly rich with osmiza. The local produce makes a lovely souvenir from the trip to Trieste and its surroundings as you head toward the nearby motorway and back into the heartland of Italy.

Writing by Nigel Tutt, editing by Paul Casciato

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