Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

ISSIMO’s Guide to Trieste

The Gulf of Trieste

City by the Sea

Trieste is one of Italy’s most spectacular towns and absolutely nothing like you expect. Thanks to its strategic position and commerce domination, Trieste has long reigned over the Adriatic coast as the gateway to Central Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans

Italo Svevo, Franz Kafka, James Joyce, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Pier Paolo Pasolini loved the seaport jewel for its enviable coastline location on the edge of karst plateau, practically plummeting into the Adriatic blues.  Trieste’s waterfront is a gorgeous landscape of Neoclassical architecture, thanks to its Habsburg heritage.  For six centuries it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire before changing hands to become part of Italy after World War I.  

To this day, Trieste is magnificent, whether it’s standing in the center of  Piazza Unità d’Italia (one of the largest in Europe), boating the Gulf of Trieste or taking in the incredible nature of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Exploring the Citycords

A cultural keystone, Trieste is the convergence of Latin, Slavic, Greek and Germanic European cultures, traditions and languages. Fabulous fountains, ornate facades, and gorgeous street lamps representing epic eras in design like – fin de siecle, neoclassical, and art nouveau – decorate the streets and piazze. So let’s start at the center: Piazza Unità d’Italia is Italy’s largest sea-facing square,  and is bordered by ornate Viennese-style government buildings –  a celebration of Austro-Hungarian town design.

Miramar castle in Trieste

Just north of Corso Italia is the tiny Borgo Teresiano, known for its photogenic Canal Grande, and the gorgeous Serbian Orthodox Church of Santo Spiridione. Another neighborhood to explore is the area of  Malcanton, Riborgo and Beccherie which made up Trieste’s Jewish Ghetto, established in 1696 by Emperor Leopold I of Austria and abolished in 1785.  For the Habsburg grandeur, visit the majesticMiramare Castle, home of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg,

For a glimpse into Triestini heritage, modern gallery Museo Revoltella holds an enormous collection of works from the 19th and 20th centuries by Triestini artists, as well as work by the most significant figures of Italian 20th century.   Civico Museo Teatrale Carlo Schmidl , housed in a historic townhome, showcases historic musical instruments, sheet music, and costumes.  Diege de Henriquez War Museum for Peace covers Trieste’s pivotal history in both 20th century wars, but delves deeper in philosophy.  

Exceptional landscape and nature are fundamental to Trieste. The Faro della Vittoria, Trieste’s historic lighthouse and starting line for the Barcolana. Strada Napoleonica, the breathtaking stretch of road along the Karst (Carso). The gorgeous limestone plateau overlooks the Gulf of Trieste and Slovenia border and is the spot for hiking, biking, rock climbing, picnicking and strolling. For a more Triestino adventure, take a boat ride to Muggia, a colourful coastal city south of Trieste with picturesque views.

Tasting Trieste event

Trieste and his mercato al coperto

As can be expected, Trieste cuisine is a melting pot of cultures and leftovers from its Austro-Hungarian heritage, and the vineyards of the limestone Karst plateau (which extends from the northeast of Italy to the extreme northwest of Croatia, all across western Slovenia and the north of Istria). When in Trieste, it’s all about Carso DOC, local varietals Terrano, Malvasia Istriana, and Vitovska. To taste the flavors,  Osteria da Marin has a great line up of all the Karst wines and then explore the 1930s Mercato Coperto for its fabulous food and its heavenly helicoidal ramp

The historic Caffe San Marco. 

A Trieste tradition is the osmiza, a  rustic eatery for nibbling on cheese, salumi and wine, which some say dates back to the time of Charlemagne! Trieste has an ongoing and updated list of osmize which are open to guests. Other restaurants we love are the quaint Osteria Salvagente and Tavernetta al Molo, located just in the bay under Miramare Castle (both for fresh fish) and Harry’s Bistro, the charming and kick back sibly to Michelin two-star Harry’s Piccolo.

With Trieste steeped in coffee culture, our suggestions are to drink up the history at Caffe San Marco, Caffe degli Specchi, Caffe Tommasseo, Antico Caffè Torineseand Urbanis, stylish and centurion coffee houses where you can’t go wrong.  

Historic Boutiques

Trieste’s history as a hub of exchange means that shopping is a tradition, and of course, there are centenarian boutiques that continue the heritage of the town. Enoteca Bischoff is one of the

oldest wine shops in Trieste and perhaps the world with its nearly two and half centuries of stocking the nectar of the gods. The magical Drogheria Toso enchants with its eclectic wares like spices, soaps and oxides, boxes, glass vases and brooms made of horsehair, and much more. Bookworms head to Borgo Teresiano for your literary pleasures including the historic Libreria Umberto Saba.

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