Trieste! Perched on the Adriatic
August 18, 2014
Trieste is a port town with hillsides that end not far from the water, whose hills as a result are part and parcel of the city. Buses and a cable car tram take you up and down, although the inclines are certainly not too steep to walk in most cases. Near the port are many large buildings from the turn of the century and earlier, including both public and private structures, which help make walking about quite pleasurable, as do the broad boulevards and narrow pedestrian streets.
The bay is a wide natural port and a gorgeous one to view from high points in town and on the nearby cliffs, which allow for panoramic views from the windows of the trains and buses. It has been a port since at least Roman times and many ships load and unload here. Trade has produced some tremendous fortunes, reflected in the luxurious palaces scattered about the town. At least two now house museums show casing the owners’ collections as well as temporary exhibits: Civico Museo Sartorio (see the previous entry) and Museo Revoltella (below). The interiors are fabulously decorated from floor to ceiling.
The Piazza de la Unita d’Italia overlooks the port area, flanked by beautiful and large public buildings, swank restaurants and bars lining one side.
The population is a mere 200,000 and this being August, many are elsewhere for holidays. Getting around is easy unless you are out late, as buses stop early. There is comparatively little traffic for such wide boulevards. Pedestrian zones are a plenty, lined with attractive shops and lots of outdoor seating for a cappuccino or a glass of wine.
There are five grand cafes around town, where you can have coffee and a sweet in a luxurious turn of the century setting, at very reasonable prices. Above is Caffe San Marcos.
Summer weather is fairly comfortable. Temperatures range between 13 and 30 centigrade (48-85F). It can be a bit humid so in the sun it can be rather warm, but shade is not usually far away, making Trieste an excellent summer destination. You need not worry about huge crowds, either, as there are not many tourists.
The restaurants will not disappoint and the prices are reasonable. A few nights ago we went to a place near Piazza de la Unita, definitely a local place though. We had mussels, a pasta and a meat course, desert and liter of wine for €45 for two, the local wine just 8 euros of the total. You can find many places for less, say a tavola calda (literally a ‘hot table’, but these vary from what they are in Rome), and really enjoy the food as well. We had pizza at a restaurant on XX September with wine, and it came to €26. There is plenty of local wine, mostly white, light and served well chilled, super for this time of year.
We have not found any street markets. Although there is a municipal market, it is indoors. There are few ‘panificios’ (bread bakers), but there are many pastry shops. All the grocery stores sell bread and it’s pretty good and crusty. Cheese is plentiful and quite reasonably priced. We just bought some mozzarella de bufala (Italian water buffalo) for just a euro for about 125 grams, on sale. In the US it would be 10 times that. There’s a wide variety as well, including old favorites like scamorza (smoked and otherwise), ricotta and various hard cheeses in the Parmigiano (Parmesan) family. I’ll do a bit of a write up soon on the cheese, as we’ve just bought some interesting ones.
People are quite friendly, willing to talk, and will stop to help us on the street whenever we have the map out. There are friendly crowds at the many outdoor concerts near the Unita, which the city offers free of charge. It’s a lovely venue and we’ve enjoyed some good jazz peformances, one of which included several dance groups.
Slovenia is very close by and Croatia not much farther, but we have not visited either yet. You can go by bus, train or ferry. There are other ferries to nearby destinations, and you can get to Venice this way as well.
Trieste is a little known treasure of a town. Come and spend some time here. There is plenty of interest in these pleasant surroundings.
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