Dear Traveller friends,
Today I’m going to talk about a town which is often overlooked by organized tours–Trieste.
Trieste is the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Even if it’s not as fascinating as other towns in Italy northeast, it has so much to offer that it’s worth your time.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to reach due to its position and the lack of links. This is why you probably won’t want to plan a visit to Trieste alone. It’s better to include it in a tour of Friuli Venezia Giulia or into a trip to Slovenia or Croatia. In this case, in fact, it will be easy to invest a couple of days for Trieste.
If you are not fond of driving, the best solution is to visit Trieste while visiting Venice. In fact, the two towns are very well connected by train. The journey is going to be three or two hours long, depending on how many stops it does in between.
When to go
As it happens for most of Italy, the best moments to visit Trieste are Spring and Autumn. The only time I’d avoid is Winter, when the Bora, the freezing wind typical of the Gulf of Trieste, makes the weather really cold.
Where to stay
Finding a hotel in Trieste is easy. The most challenging part is finding a parking lot. If you can’t find a hotel with a private parking lot, I suggest you book a room at one of the facilities near the railway station. This way you’ll be able to park at one of the parking lots near the railway station.
As I already said, Trieste is not easy to reach, so you’ll probably spend most of your first morning getting to town. If you decided to arrive the evening before, however, you can follow the same tour with more leisure.
Your first stop is the Miramare Castle (Castello di Miramare), just outside the city. If you arrive in Trieste by car, you can stop to visit the castle before going downtown. If you come from the city centre, then you can take bus number 6 from the railway station and then walk a short distance.
This beautiful castle, overlooking the sea, was built during the Nineteenth Century and was intended as one of the palaces of the Hapsburgs. One of the most impressive features of the castle is its style, far from what we are used to in Italy. The influence of the architects of the Austro-Hungarians Empire, which dominated this area until World War I, is evident in the use of white stone from Istria. The design was inspired by the Palacio da Pena in Sintra, Portugal, that at that time was among the properties of Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg.
However, the beauties of this castle continue on the inside. There you can visit many furnished rooms, used by Emperor Maximilian I, his wife Charlotte and their court.
The last unmissable stop is the park. Emperor Maximilian was very fond of botany and promoted the creation of the park, planted over one hundred years ago on a land where nothing grew. The result is impressive, since the plants and several decorations, such as statues and fountains, make this one of the ten most beautiful parks in Italy.
If you came to the castle by car, before going downtown, don’t forget to stop briefly in Strada del Friuli to admire the Vittoria Light (Faro della Vittoria). This is the most potent lighthouse of the Adriatic and was built to commemorate the fallen during World War I. If you arrived by bus, you can take bus number 6 from the castle and get down at the rowing club Saturnia (Circolo Canottieri Saturnia). The light is less than a kilometre away from the bus stop. To go back downtown, you can take one of the buses that stop near the light.
Once you arrive downtown and parked your car, you can finally enjoy the calm and elegance of this beautiful town, characterized by an ample pedestrian zone.
If you decided to spend the night near the railway station, you’d just have to walk along via Trento until you reach the Grand Canal. The walk along the canal, where several boats are docked, is suggestive. Before going on, however, don’t forget to take a picture with James Joyce statue and admire the Church of Saint Anthony.
After crossing the Grand Canal, you’ll finally reach the Stock Exchange Plaza (Piazza della Borsa), where you can see the beautiful Palace of the Chamber of Commerce.
From Piazza della Borsa, you can quickly reach the amazing Unity of Italy Square (Piazza Unità d’Italia), the biggest square overlooking the city in Europa. However, this is not the only remarkable feature of this square. Along the sides, you can see beautiful palaces that make the plaza luxurious. In the vastness of the square, don’t forget the Fountain of the Four Continents (Fontana dei Quattro Continenti), where are represented the allegories of the four continents known in 1750.
If you want to recharge your batteries, you can stop at one of the most important cafes in town, the Mirrors Cafe (Caffè degli Specchi). Trieste’s cafes were the preferred meeting point for writers during their stays in town. Many famous writers, such as Joyce, Svevo, Saba, and Stendhal, resided here. Beside Caffè degli Specchi, the other most famous cafes are Caffè Tommaseo in Tommaseo Square and Caffè San Marco in Via Cesare Battisti.
Trieste is full of museums, and one of the most interesting is Museum Revoltella. It’s situated in Via Armando Diaz 27. This museum contains an ample collection of work of arts, sculptures and paintings, mostly from artists of the Nineteenth Centuries. But one of the most interesting attractions of the museums is several furnished rooms.
Outside the museum, you can walk along the shore and go back to Piazza Unità d’Italia, where you can see the Molo Audace (Brave Dock), named after the first ship which docked there after World War I. Here you can enjoy a beautiful view over the promenade while you are surrounded by the sea.
At this point, your day is probably over. All you need to do is searching for a restaurant for dinner. The best place is the area between Piazza Unità d’Italia and the Revoltella Museum. Since you are going to visit this part of town in the afternoon, you can take advantage of this and search for a restaurant in advance.
While going back to the hotel, I suggest another stop in Piazza Unità d’Italia. Its charm in the evening, with the facades illuminated, is impressive. If you liked it by day, you’d be speechless at night.
On your second day in Trieste, the first thing to do is visit one of the most interesting and yet most challenging to reach parts of town—the San Giusto Hill (Colle di San Giusto). If you want to avoid the long climb up the hill, you can take bus number 24. You can get down right on top, a few steps away from the main attractions. However, it’s not very frequent since it passes every forty minutes. As an alternative, you can take bus number 1, which is much more frequent but leaves you in Piazza Sansovino, half a chilometre away from your destination.
The first place to see is Trieste Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Giusto Martire) built during the Fourteenth century from the union of two churches. The Cathedral has five naves with many valuable mosaics by Venetian masters decorating the lateral apses and the central nave.
Near the Cathedral, there is San Giusto Castle, built in 1470 at the behest of Emperor Frederick III. The castle was a formidable fortress used to catch sight of approaching of enemies from the sea. Now it’s one of the most beautiful panoramic viewpoints in town. Inside the castle, you can visit two museums. The first is the Civic Museum and allow the visitor to enter many of the castle’s room. The second is the Lapidario Tergestino that hosts 130 lapidary finds from the Roman era.
Your next destination is the Risiera di San Sabba. However, to reach it you need to take another bus, number 10, from Piazza Sansovino.
The Risiera di San Sabba is a touching and moving place. Used as a Nazi concentration camp, it meant slavery for many partisans, Jews and Slavs. Here the prisoners were forced to work husking the rice before being deported to the extermination camps in Poland or being killed. The Nazis tried to destroy the building to cover up the import of their crimes. However, they managed to destroy only part of it. What remains is now a place for remembrance.
Now you can end your bus tour and go back to the railway station to take your car. From the Risiera, cross through the stadium and the indoor stadium to reach Via Flavia, where you can take bus number 20 or 21.
It’s time to leave the city centre, but Trieste has something more to offer—the Giant Cave (la Grotta Gigante).
You can reach the cave by car or with bus number 42 to Località Borgo Grotta Gigante.
The cave is accessible only through guided tours. The expert tour guides are going to show you the spectacular cave and explain the characteristics of this fascinating underground world.
I recommend proper clothes and shoes since you’ll have to descend (and then climb back) several steps and the temperature inside is around 11°C.
Besides exploring the cave, you’ll be able to visit the Scientific and Speleologic Museum with its exposition dedicated to the geology, palaeontology, archaeology and biology of the area.
With this visit, our two-day tour of Triest is concluded. It’s now time to go back to your car and reach the nearby toll booth of Prosecco to leave for another destination.
Another unusual attraction is the journey by tram from Campo Marzio station to Opicina, a district located on the hills over the town. Unfortunately, at present, this attraction is closed due to an accident and the subsequent renewals on the line. I hope this segment will be open soon (by 2019). When you arrive in town, you can ask information about this, so as not to miss the chance to travel on one of the most beautiful railroads in Italy.
Thank you for reading this post! See you for our next destination!