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Trip Report A Great 9 days in Trieste

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My wife & I, both mid 50s, had a marvellous 9 days in Trieste (13 –22 September 2011. I want to pass on some of our lovely experiences that might be of help to other intending visitors.

Based on all our reading we were really looking forward to Trieste. And we were not disappointed. We found it a gorgeous place, the old and new reflecting its many historical influences. We had intended making some day trips to Venice but there are so many attractions around Trieste we put Venice aside for another holiday !

Other than a brief break for thunderstorms the weather was hot throughout with cloudless dawn to dusk blue skies which was very welcome after a cool summer back home. We love walking and did loads, which was one of the pleasures of the whole holiday, just ambling around in the sunshine soaking up the atmosphere and admiring the lovely architecture. We used the frequent public buses for trips to nearby attractions, tickets costing only €1.10

After a 7.20am flight from Dublin to Marco Polo we got ATVO bus to Mestre, the 12.23 train to Trieste followed by taxi (€8) to Residence San Giusto. Our top floor bilocale was very comfortable and a great base for the holiday. We sometimes availed of breakfast in the Hotel that was remarkable value at only €5.

After a fine late afternoon meal at Mase in Via S.Nicolò (opening times for most restaurants is 6-7pm) we strolled around the delightful streets of Trieste. We got our first view of Piazza dell’Unita D'Italia which we consider one of the most beautiful squares we have seen on our travels with its grand buildings, overlooking the sea. We saw it every day. It was particularly enchanting in the evening time with the sun going down and the subdued lighting on the buildings, the whole effect further enhanced by the purple lighting on the pavement.

We had coffee and dolci at the Caffè degli Specchi sitting outside in the lovely balmy evening. On the way back we saw the fabulous rose window in San Giusto Cathedral and looked forward to visiting it.

We enjoyed our regular walks to and from the seafront to the Residence along the energetic Via della Cattedrale, sometimes ably assisted by gelati from Gelato Marco !

Next morning we began our sightseeing in the historical Piazza della Cattedrale. It was fascinating to see the remnants of the Roman forum with the reconstructed columns. The tree lined path leading down to the war memorial and beyond afforded great views over the city. The cathedral is very impressive with its marvellous frescoes (which require €1 for illumination). The castle is well worth visiting, especially with the audio guide, with its fine courtyard, ramparts with panoramic views and the lapidarium with its great collection of ancient artefacts.

In the afternoon we took the ferry to Muggia. After a pleasant walk around the centre we had a very refreshing swim at the Strada per Lazzaretto which is not far from the landing area.

Next day we decided to explore a more circuitous route to Piazza Unita, turning down Via dell’Industria and following a broad sweep past the docks area and the crowded marinas to arrive at the centre. After a leisurely cappuccino at Harry’s Café (outside table) we spent a few hours at the great Revoltella Museum. We really enjoyed the fabulous paintings and sculptures set against the lavish decorations of the original palace and the modern art in the expanded areas. On the top floor of the latter, given that we were the only visitors, the attendant let us out onto the roof area from where we had clear views over the rooftops and seafront.

We spent a glorious sunny day in gorgeous Miramare Castle, stunningly overlooking the sea. We initially walked around the lovely extensive gardens and saw the little lakes with the turtles. We thought the verandah surrounding the castle very attractive with its light tan insets and plant holders. Inside we took audio guides that gave a wonderful history and description of the castle and rooms. We were intrigued to see the decorative references to Maximilian’s love of his seafaring days such as the cabin bedroom and the ceiling porthole.

Back in Trieste we had a great outdoor meal accompanied by chilled prosecco at Il Barattolo, in the lovely setting of Piazza Sant'Antonio Nuovo.

On Saturday we had tickets for the 6pm concert at the Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi. Before that we spent a enjoyable few hours having a look at the remarkable Roman column and then moving onto to the Roman amphitheatre. The Grand Canal looked so pretty in the sunshine with its fleet of tiny boats. We wondered how they could move under the low bridge to the sea. And of course we acknowledged James Joyce’s statue on Ponterosso. We had coffee and torte sacher at another of Trieste’s famous coffee houses, the Caffè Stella Polare.

We enjoyed the concert, consisting of Mozart and Brahms pieces, in the very ornate setting. Thankfully the theatre was fully air conditioned so very pleasant. Afterwards we dined at Ristorante Vulcania on the seafront.

Sunday morning we took the delightful trip to Opicina on the quaint tram. We attempted a walk beyond the village but all routes quickly led to busy main roads. So we adjourned to Caffe ‘Vatta and had a pleasant midday snack. Afterwards we walked back along the track to the lookout point with fabulous views.

We are very interested in the history of the places we visit so that afternoon we took Bus 10 to
Civico Museo della Risiera di San Sabba. We purchased the informative explanatory booklet for €1. We found the museum and exhibits very moving giving a detailed picture of the horrors of that time. The sculptures portrayed well the intensity of the place especially the one symbolising smoke from the crematorium.
During our visit the thunderstorm began which we thought was fitting for such a place.

Next morning we made our way to the James Joyce Museum but disappointedly it was closed for renovations. But the staff very kindly let us in (may have something to do with being from Dublin !) and played the visitor DVD of Joyce in Trieste. It was fascinating to see the black and white grainy photos and cinefilm of 100 years ago and to discover how much Joyce loved his time in the cultured city.

In the afternoon the rain stopped so we took a trip to the marvellous Duino Castle (Bus 44). We had a great view of the old ruined castle jutting out into the Gulf. Preparations for an event that evening were busily underway with film crews etc but no restrictions on the visitors. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the new castle including the library, grotto and the impressive musical heritage. We were intrigued to see the family trees showing the interweaving of European royal and titled families over nearly a millennium.

That evening we had a lovely meal in the pleasant modern contemporary surroundings of Modi. It was the only time we dined indoors; the staff told us they had just reopened on 5 September due to lack of outside space during hot July & August; 30oC in mid-September probably not expected.

On Tuesday the warm sunshine had returned so we went to the fabulous Grotto Gigante (Bus 42). There were only 2 Italians & ourselves on the tour, which lasted well over an hour, so we got lots of information including how ideal it is for scientific experiments and opportunities for questions. Given the small group we moved very unhurriedly through the splendours of the vast cave gallery with its wonderful natural formations exquisitely illuminated with soft lighting.

On our last day we enjoyed walking around before having coffee and dolci at Harry’s Café. The dolci was the gorgeous ceva that we didn’t see elsewhere (and couldn’t find on the Internet). We thought it might be a house speciality.

Our last attraction was the resplendent Victory Lighthouse that we walked to, even though we were strongly advised to take a bus, but it’s only about 4 kilometres from the centre. We climbed the stairs to the top in time to see the great sunset over the sea and city.
After a leisurely walk back to town we had our last dinner at Navigando on the seafront.

On going home day we got the 5.50am Bus 1 to the station, the comfortable and speedy 6.35am Frecciabianca train to Mestre, then to the airport and back home without any delays.

We had a wonderful time in Trieste and I highly recommend it !

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