Trieste

Capital of the autonomous Friuli-Venezia Giula region in north-eastern Italy and one of the country’s major ports, Trieste is both a national economic centre and a cultural heavyweight, with a truly exceptional history and complexion.

Although Trieste’s past stretches as far back as the 3rd millennium BC, the settlement only rose to prominence after the Roman takeover in 177BC as the Tergeste Colony. The fruitful imperial era was followed by Byzantine and Frankish control before, many years later, the city fell into Austrian hands. Although this arrangement persisted for centuries, Trieste’s golden era would only come in the 18th and 19th centuries when, after a brief period under Napoleon’s control in the late 18th century, the city prospered as the Imperial Free City of Trieste. Indeed, by the 20th century, Trieste was recognised as a cultural and economic hub, with artists like James Joyce residing in the area. Only incorporated into Italy in 1920 after the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Trieste’s recent history has been eventful, being part of the Nazi-controlled Italian Social Republic in World War II and even enjoying a brief period as a Free State between 1947 and 1954.

This independent mentality is reflected today in the dominant local dialect of Triestine. However, the beauty of the landscape and the architecture ensure it hardly looks out of place in Italy, while being no less enrapturing for the visitor.

Attractions

For visitors, the main orientation point should be the fabulous Piazza dell’Unit d’Italia. One of the biggest squares in Europe, the Piazza is remarkable in its own right for the 18th century Quattro Continenti Fountain.

In typical Italian fashion, one of the most impressive pieces of architecture is the local Cathedral of San Giusto. The Duomo’s current Romanesque styling was the result of progressive work throughout the Middle Ages, but the construction stretches as far back as the 6th century (indeed, some elements from the original Roman pagan temple are visible). As well as the remarkably 14th century rose window on the façade, the Cathedral contains a number of beautiful medieval mosaics. Coupled with the flanking churches of San Giovanni and San Michele al Carnale, the courtyard is quite a sight.

Built between 1856 and 1860 for the Austrian Archduke and his wife, the Castle of Miramare is a manifestation of Trieste’s glorious 19th century. As well as the ornate late Baroque façade, the Castle is noted for its fabulous gardens, designed by the Archduke himself, and the marvellous overlooking view of the sea. The Castle itself also acts as a local museum.

Closer to the city centre, the Castle of San Giusto is another marvellous testament to Trieste’s past. Built between 1470 and 1630 at the behest of several emperors, it now houses a museum specialising in historical weapons and provides an incredible panorama of the city and the countryside.

Remnants of Trieste’s Roman heritage are still visible today. Possibly the most famous is the Arch of Riccardo in the Piazzetta Barbacan, an Augustan gate built in 33 AD which takes its name from Richard Lionheart (who supposedly crossed the gate during the Crusades). You can also find the 2nd century AD Basilica forense and the 1st century AD Roman theatre on show.

Trieste has a number of caves, including the famous Grotta Gigante, renowned as the world’s largest tourist cave.

The city is blessed with a huge array of museums. Included among these are the Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Antica in the Piazza della Libert , the Museum of Oriental Art in the Palazzo Leo and the Trieste Joyce Museum in the Piazza Hortis.

Trieste plays host to a number of annual festivals, the most important of which being the Festival Internazionale dell’Operetta between October and May.

Shopping

Trieste is a great place to shop, with The Giula and Torri d’Europa shopping malls packed with outlets in the Via Giulia and Via Svevo respectively.

Alternatively, for local crafts, try the Via San Nicolas or the antiques market, which takes place in the city centre on the third Sunday of each month.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Reflecting the city’s history, Trieste’s local cuisine is a compound of Austrian and Italian influences. As such, expect dishes like goulash, different types of risotto and the jota soup (pork, potatoes, beans and cappucci agri) as well as Austrian pastries like Sacher cake, strudels and the more Italian chiffeletti cookies.

For traditional Trieste food try the Augustiner Stube in the Via Foscolo and Birreria Forst on the Via Galatti. However, there are plenty of international options like Chinese at the Drago d’Oro on the Via Foschiatti and Indian at the Taj Mahal in Via Brunner.

You’ll be sure to have a lively night out in Trieste, with bars around the Piazza Unit d’Italia and pubs like The Duke on the Via Vidali as well as nightclubs such as Ottaviano Augusto on the Via Ottaviano Augusto and Cantera Social Club in the Sistiana Mare.

However, for something quieter, you can find the Fonzaione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi on the Riva Tre Novembre and the Teatro Cristallo in the Via del Ghirlandaio.

Tourist Information

Trieste Tourist InformationPiazza dell’Unit d’Italia, 4/B34121TriesteTel: +39 (0)40 347 83 12info@triestetourism.it

Airport

Trieste is served by Friuli-Venezia Giulia Airport in nearby Gorizia. Buses and taxis can be used to reach the city itself.

International and domestic connecting flights are available to limited destinations within the continent.

Ryanair use Friuli-Venezia Giulia to and from British destinations.

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