Trieste is a mid-sized city that lies in the Northeast part of Italy, near the border to Slovenia. It has a beautiful and dramatic setting between the Adriatic Sea, the head of the Gulf of Trieste and mountains. In the 1960s, Trieste became an important research location, with a university and international school. Trieste is one of the wealthiest cities in Italy. The upper parts of the city are very hilly, while the city center is more flat.
Since Trieste is somewhat isolated geographically from the rest of Italy it is overlooked by many tourists, but has much to offer and since large cruising ships are not allowed to stop in Venice anymore, you can see huge cruising ships right in the city center, opposite the main square, creating increasing tourism! During our visit the enormous MSC Spendida was in the harbour. Illy, a famous Italian coffee brand, was developed by Francesco Illy in Trieste, and illy has several cafés and stores in the city, and the headquarters are in Trieste.
Trieste is not a typical Italian city. Until 1918 it was the 4th largest city in Austria-Hungary and the most important port city in the powerful Habsburg Dynasty, 1382-1918. Today (2021) it is Italy’s 15th largest city. It is considered the endpoint of the Maritime Silk Road. Because of its past there are much Austrian architecture in Trieste, including large palaces. Especially many large and grandiose palaces in Austrian style can be found along the perimeter of Trieste’s main square;
Piazza Unità d'Italia (Italian Unity Square). This large square faces the Adriatic Sea and around the square is the City Hall – Palazzo Municipale di Trieste (built 1873-1875 and designed by Giuseppe Bruni) with its iconic clock tower, Prefettura di Trieste (Government Palace), Il Palazzo del Lloyd Triestino (the Building of Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia), Palazzo Modello and Palazzo Pitteri. Many beautiful sculptures can be found in the buildings, for example the Venus sculpture that is part of the façade of the Government Palace and two thin columns stand on the waterfront side. “The fountain of the four continents” (La fontana del bergamasco Giovanni Battista Mazzoleni) is a large, beautiful and signifant sculpture and fountain by Giovanni Mazzoli, in front of the City Hall. It is a symbol of the then known four continents of the world. Piazza Unità d'Italia is sometimes used for concerts, in 2016 Iron Maiden played on the square for 15,000 fans and in 2013 Green Day played there. Before 1919 Piazza Unità d'Italia was called Piazza Grande (Great Square) and it is often used for states of heads and meeting. When we visited the square, and outdoor wedding was taking place in front of the City Hall, to the tunes of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”.
Riva is the waterfront that follows the city center, and is also the waterfront side of Piazza Unità d'Italia. It switches names were it goes, from Northeast to Southwest; Riva Tre Novembre, Riva del Mandracchio, Riva Nazario Sauro, and Riva Grumula. Many grandiose palaces can be seen here, marinas with boats, yachts and sometimes huge cruise ships. The most remarkable palaces, besides the ones that also connects to the Italian Unity Square, are Palazzo Berlam or Palazzo Aedes -a red brick New York inspired art deco building from 1928 that was Trieste’s first highrise -, Palazzo Carciotti with its Corinthian columns and dome, the pink neo-classicist Generali Bank, Savoia Excelsior Hotel and Teatro Verdi Trieste. There is also a church along Riva, the baroque/neo-classical Chiesa Greco Ortodossa di San Nicolò (Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas) and a landmark red brick clock tower that is part of the Marine Aquarium Building, that resembles the famous clock tower in Hong Kong. Molo Audace is a pier that goes about 200m out in the sea from Riva, with views of the city.
Canal Grande is a canal in the city center with beautiful buildings, open-air restaurants, squares and churches. It is not as large as its namne in Venezia. Along the canal is Piazza Sant'Antonio Nuovo with the neo-classic Church of Sant'Antonio Nuovo and Piazza del Ponte Rosso (Red Point Square) with the Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Spyridon, that has beautiful blue cupolas. Via Roma, Via Trento and Via Fabio Filzi all pass Canal Grande, and fancy fashion stores can be found in the surroundings.
Piazza della Borsa (Stock Exchange Square) is a large square were the beautiful neo-classic palace Palazzo della Camera di Commercio, that houses the Trieste Commodity Exchange is. During our visit pink wolf sculptures were placed in front of it. The Fountain of Neptune and the Leopold I statue and the Tergesteo Palace are also on the square. Corso Italia, one of the main roads in central Trieste, goes from here. Via Giosuè Carducci is another major road in the city center, filled with stores, bars and banks. There are many scooters in the traffic of Trieste, like in most Italian cities.
The Central Railway Station, Trieste Centrale, is quite small and neo-classical (with Roman columns and sculptures inside) and is situated opposite Piazza della Libertà (Liberty Square), a green square, where you find a monument of Elizabetta, Queen Elizabeth of Austria. The Central Bus Station is in another old building next to the railway station. At the Liberty Square you also find the Palazzo Panfilli.
Other squares in Trieste are Piazza Guglielmo Oberdan, Piazza Dalmazia and Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
Roman remains can be found, for example a Roman arch in the city center and the Teatro Roman, the Roman Theater. Dating back to the 1st Century AD it was built by a statesman during the reign of Emperor Trajan, Quintus Petronius Modestus. The amphitheater had a capacity of 3500-6000 spectators and was discovered in 1814. It is situated at the foot of the hills of San Giusto, where you also find the original statues on display, but not far from the Italian Unity Square. During our visit there was an exhibiton of body sculptures that were ripped apart, placed on various parts of the amphitheater. Castello di San Giusto is the castle above the city center. This is the place were the first fortified settlement was built. In 1636 the third bastion completed the fortress. Here you also find the San Giusto Cathedral. Here you find the Roman Forum, with ancient Roman columns.
There are not many highrise buildings in the city, and very few in the city center, except for the 19-storey residential building at Via Campo Marzo, where you also find the Trieste Campo Marzio Railway Museum. Next to the Roman Forum there is an older red brick 12-storey highrise building.
We had our accommodation in Trieste, after we visited Venice we took the late evening train to Trieste, were accommodation were more inexpensive then in Venice. Trieste was also closer to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, so we didn’t have to to travel all the way from Venice at once. It was also a nice opportunity to see Trieste, a nice underrated Italian city. We had half a day to spend before taking the bus to Ljubljana. We saw most parts of the city center, that is really compact, including the Roman Theater and the Piazza Italia main square. Due to lack of time we didn’t see the upper parts with the San Giusto Castle, the Cathedral of San Giusto and the Miramare Castle in the outskirts though. The weather was perfect, it was warm and sunny. We stayed at the Pensione Rittmeyer, situated near the Central Station and Piazza della Libertà, a short walk from the waterfront and the Unity Square. Thee staff was really nice,we got a room with bathroom for the same price as a room without bathroom. It was simple and clean, the beds were quite hard (there were three of them), but worked really well as just an affordable place to sleep overnight.
The coastline Northwest of Triest, along the Gulf of Trieste, is very beautiful. Our bus, heading for Venice, drove on a higher level with views to the sea. The beautiful Royal Austrian 19th century castle Miramare is situated along the coast in the West part of Trieste. When the bus were driving along the inland autostrada (highway) A4 the landscape suddenly became very dull, with flat fields and a few sleepy villages and towns along the way, all the way to Venice. Temple of Monte Grisa (National Shrine of Mary Mother and Queen) is a Roman-Catholic church in modern style, built in 1965 on the edge of the Karst Plateau, 300m above the sea, just North of Trieste. Faro della Vittoria is a 68m high lighthouse, one of the world’s tallest, that looks like a Roman column above the sea, also in the North part of the city, in the Barcola area, where many of the city’s beaches are situated.
Trieste has an airport, Aeroporto di Trieste, that lies in Monfalcone Northwest of the city.
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