Trieste is a beautiful maritime town, located on the border with Slovenia in the north-eastern corner of Italy, overlooking the Gulf of Trieste, which is an arm of the Adriatic Sea. It is approximately 120 kms east of Venice. It has been a cultural crossroads for centuries and this is reflected in its people, its customs and its cuisine. It has the third largest port in the Mediterranean and has a population of just over one quarter of a million people. It is a major port and is dramatically situated between the sea and the impressive Karst plateau.
A Little History
In the 18th century, the Austrian Emperors commissioned the construction of a deep-water port at Trieste and so ended Venice’s long domination of the Adriatic Sea. The port has remained the most important in the area and, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War, was ceded to Italy. This arrangement was not finally formalized until 1962, when a long-running border dispute with the then Yugoslavia was settled with the aid of the United Nations. Although there are several Roman remains (most notably the 2nd-century theatre), the most prominent buildings are no older than the port.
Its past history can still be seen from the Roman ruins, San Giusto Castle and the Roman Theatre. Memories and images of the past live on in the streets, from the narrow alleys that wind through the old city centre with their picturesque houses and ruined walls to the wide central streets which cross the new part of town with its elegant neo-classical buildings.
Trieste is also the "coffee capital" of Europe, and this is reflected in its many elegant and historic cafes, often the venue for musical or poetry recitals. Cultural heterogeneity is also reflected in its bars selling both good beers and the famous local "Colli Orientali" wines.
On the outskirts of the town a splendid promenade called Riviera di Barcola runs along the coast, below the lighthouse, to Miramare Castle. International regattas take place throughout the year and the seafront attracts swimmers in the summer. The Miramare Castle and Gardens was built between 1856 and 1860 for Maximilian of Hapsburg, briefly Emperor of Mexico.
The city has a rich history and preserves interesting Roman, Medieval and neo-classic monuments. In the 17th and 18th centuries it began developing into a truly cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse city under the direction of Karl VI and his daughter Mary Therese.
The building of a deep water port in the 18th century meant that Trieste was the only sea port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This fact, together with its tax-free policy, led to an influx of entrepreneurs and merchants from all over the world, while Mary Therese's policy of religious tolerance allowed the different religious communities to practice openly and build their own places of worship. Following the collapse of the empire after the first world war, Trieste was united with the rest of Italy and became increasingly provincialized from then on. It became annexed by the 3rd Reich during the Second World War and eventually came back under Italian rule in 1954.
Today, Trieste is a great place to unwind and enjoy yourself with plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and relaxing. The coast to the west of the city offers a variety of sandy beaches and the rocky shore in the suburb of Barcola is often used by the locals as a place to enjoy the sun. Further inland from Trieste is the Grotta Gigante, which is the largest accessible cave in the world. The city has several museums, theatres and places of interest all within easy reach of each other. The food in the area is fantastic with numerous cafes and restaurants offering an abundance of seafood, local cheeses, excellent wines and rich coffees.
The following links provide more information on Trieste:
More about Trieste
A List of Restaurants (in italian)