Love Touring Italy - The City Of Trieste by Levi Reiss
If you are hankering for
a European tourist destination, why don't you consider the Friuli-Venezia
Giuli region of northeastern Italy, bordering on Austria and Slovenia?
For simplicity's sake we abbreviate the region's full name to Friuli. Depending
on your particular interests, Friuli may be an ideal vacation spot. You
can get classic Italian food and other specialties, and wash it down with
fine local wine. While Friuli is not exactly undiscovered by tourists you
usually won't be fighting crowds to see what you want. Like most regions
of Italy, it has belonged to many nations over the years. Unlike most regions
of Italy it remains multicultural, an exceptional mixture of Italian, Austrian,
and Slavic influences. This article explores Trieste, Friuli's capital.
A companion article examines several other attractions in this beautiful
|Trieste, population about
two hundred thousand, is the largest city of the Friuli region. Like so
many other cities in Italy, Trieste was originally settled thousands of
years ago. Like so many other cities in Italy, Trieste went from one occupier
to another changing rulers over the centuries. Unlike other cities in Italy,
Trieste was definitely part and parcel of Mittleleuropa (Central Europe)
as the major port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And unlike any other
Italy city, Trieste only joined Italy in 1954 putting an end to the short-lived
Free Territory of Trieste founded in 1947. The 1975 Treaty of Osimo dealt
with the question of ethnic minorities and the border with Yugoslavia.
Slovenia became independent in 1991 and in 1992 declared that it would
recognize this treaty. One can well imagine that with such a unique history
Trieste would be a unique place to visit. It is.
As soon as you get to Trieste
you'll notice its ubiquitous coffee houses. Some of them have been in business
for hundreds of years. Among the best is the Antico Caffe San Marco, as
old world as you can get. See if you can wow the regulars; ask for a Bicerin,
which is coffee served in a glass. As you hang around one of Trieste's
alternatives to Starbuck's your thoughts might turn to Trieste's most famous
expatriate, James Joyce, who resided here from 1904 to 1915 and from 1919
It was in Trieste that he
finished Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and began
his masterpiece Ulysses. You might try to track down the 45 plaques on
buildings associated with his life in Trieste.
befits its internationality, Trieste is home to a variety of historic religious
buildings representing many faiths. The Serbian-Orthodox church of the
Holy Trinity and Saint Spyridion was built in the mid-Nineteenth Century
and shows a strong Byzantine influence. Be sure to go inside to view its
beautiful frescoes and icons. The Israelite Temple of Trieste was built
slightly more than a century ago. Its exterior style is said to be late
Roman of a type found in Fourth Century Syria. The building was closed
in 1942 because of the Italian Fascist race laws but reopened after World
War II. It is the largest synagogue in Italy.
The Trieste Cathedral is
dedicated to its patron saint, San Guisto (Saint Justus), martyred at the
beginning of the Fourth Century. It was initially built in the Sixth Century
on Roman ruins. Shortly after it opened for worship a Lombard invasion
destroyed the Cathedral. Then in the Ninth and Eleventh Centuries two basilicas
were constructed on the ruins. In the Fourteenth Century these basilicas
were joined and in a sense the Cathedral was rebuilt. Excavations carried
out during the 1930s revealed the remains of a Roman forum and other buildings.
The Cathedral is adjacent to a castle of the same name. Walk on its ramparts
for a great view of the city and its surroundings.
|Other Trieste churches of
interest include the Eleventh Century Roman-Gothic Basilica of San Silvestro
built on the site of the city's oldest church, the Seventeenth Century
Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Chapel of Madonna della Salute (Madonna
of Health) with a Seventeenth Century Sculpture that some believe to have
saved Trieste from a cholera epidemic in 1849. This church is next door
to the Protestant Church of Saint Sylvester.
There's one great characteristic
that Trieste shares with other Italian cities; demolitions can unearth
hidden treasures. For example in 1938 during a routine excavation the Teatro
Romano (Roman Amphitheater) poked its head out of the rubble so to speak.
This amphitheater is nestled in the middle of the central business district,
near the foot San Giusti hill and is very well preserved.
Make sure to see the Arco
di Riccardo (Arch of Richard), named for King Richard the Lionhearted.
This Augustan gate built in the Roman walls approximately two thousand
years ago is located in Trieste's old town.
You can't have an international
historic city such as Trieste without a fine collection of museums. Here
are some of them. The Civico Museo di Storia ed Arte (City Museum of History
and Art) contains Egyptian, Greek, and Italian antiquities including art
and artifacts from the Roman Amphitheater. Check out the museum's Orto
Lapidario (Lapidary Gardens.) The Civico Museo Revoltella e Galleria d'Arte
Moderna (Revoltella City Museum and Modern Art Gallery) started with the
personal collection of Baron Revoltella, one of the guys who constructed
the Suez Canal (not with his own hands). It focuses on Nineteenth and Twentieth
Century Italian artists. For a change of pace visit the Museo del Mare
(Museum of the Sea), one of the best such museums in the Mediterranean.
Castle of Miramar, about four miles (seven kilometers) northwest of Trieste
is quite recent, dating from the 1850s. It was built for the Austrian Archduke
Maximilian and his Belgian wife Charlotte and includes beautiful extensive
gardens and a greenhouse featuring tropical plants and butterflies. The
chapel includes a cross constructed from Novara, the flagship on which
Maximilian set sail to become Emperor of Mexico.
Trieste is an international
academic and research center. Its internationally-known institutions include
the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the
International School for Advanced Studies also specializing in physics,
the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, and the International Centre
for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
The Gratta Gigante (Giant
Cave) about 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Trieste is the biggest tourist
cave in the world. Its main room is over 160 feet (100 meters) high, almost
three times as long, and about 100 feet (65 meters) wide. It's big enough
to contain Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome, the largest religious building
in the world. The lighting of the cave's stalactites and stalagmites is
spectacular. You'll find a Speleological Museum at the entrance to the
cave. There are an estimated 1500 caves in the Trieste area.
|What about food? Trieste
cuisine is surely one of the most international in all Italy. Its foreign
influences include Hungary for meat and fish goulash, Austria for coffee
and a wide variety of pastries, Yugoslavia for grilled meat, and Germany
for wurst and sauerkraut. Let's not forget Italy's influence and even that
of the nearby Carso plateau, known for potato, bread and plum gnocchi (dumplings),
pasticcio and crespelle (filled pasta envelopes), potato and spinach rolls.
And the list goes on. We suggest a sample menu, one of many. Start with
Paparot (Spinach Soup). Then try Gulash Triestino (Goulash Triestino Style).
For dessert indulge yourself with Gubana (Nut and Dried Fruit Roll.) Be
sure to increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with your
meal. We'll conclude with a quick look at Friuli wine. Friuli ranks 14th
among the 20 Italian regions for acres planted in wine grapes and 13th
for total wine production. Approximately 48% of its wine production is
red or rosé (only a little rosé), leaving 52% for white.
The region produces 9 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine
Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin,
presumably a high-quality wine and 1 DOCG white dessert wine, Ramandolo.
The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee that
such wines are truly superior. Over 60% of Friuli wine carries the DOC
or DOCG designation, this is the second highest percentage in all Italy.
Carso DOC is a red or white
dry white wine from the small region between the Isonzo River and the city
of Trieste on the Slovenian border. Carso is produced in a dozen styles,
sometimes from international grape varieties and sometimes from local ones.
Some parts of its growing area are subject to a vigorous winter, while
others near the sea have a Mediterranean climate. Surprisingly enough these
zones may be separated by only a few hundred meters. Look for the red Carso
Terrano and the white Carso Malvasia.
/ Trieste Featured Hotels