Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Trek to Trieste

 Piazza Unita d’Italia 

This winter we received a newsletter from Piccola Universita’ Italiana, a language school we have used in the past. We learned that they have a new location in addition to Tropea – in Trieste (Triest-eh). This city of 250,000 people is as far as one can go from where we live. It is in the extreme northeast corner of the republic on the border with Slovenia. Guido thought that taking a few hours of Italian conversation classes would be a good excuse to be tourists in this city.

Trieste is located in the Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Most have heard of Venezia (Venice). This is an area that changed constantly over the centuries like many European locations. The most significant influence was during the 18th and 19th centuries when it was under Austro-Hungarian control or influence. To make a long story short, Trieste became part of Italy in 1954. The Slav and Austrian influence is strong yet today in the architecture, dialect and certainly the cuisine.

This was our longest train holiday to-date. In both directions we did 12 hours of travel changing trains in Roma. From Roma to Trieste, we were on the Frecciargento (Silver Arrow), one of three high speed trains operated by Trenitalia. Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) is the fastest. Our train went as fast as 250 km/h which is about 156 mph. We tried first class this time, but we don’t think it bought us much other than a free newspaper and drink. The food from the bar is for both first and second class, and it was not good.  The seating was slightly more spacious than second class. 

Booking through the school, we had a great deal on a 4 star hotel suite. Our Palace Suite was just a little smaller than our home! The suite was connected to Hotel Continentale and was part of an old palazzo – Palazzo Terni-Dei Rossi. We learned that the building is Secession Style, apparently a bit more opulent than the Neoclassical style that is prevalent in much of the city.   It was constructed around 1906.

The Scene below our Hotel Room
Serbo Orthodox Church of Trieste

The Piazza Unita d’Italia is the main square of the city and is lovely. On the last day we were there, there were school kids having different ball competitions, numerous musicians playing for donations, Asian tourists and the regular business day flow of people. Just a perfect European experience.We were told by many Italians how bella Trieste is. We would add the word elegante. The city we walked about in for 5 days is just spotlessly clean.

Band on the way to the Lungomare and Castello di Guisto

We took a tour of the palazzi, a couple of churches and a couple of castles -- one on foot within the city, and another about 10 km away via autobus. 

Bus tickets are purchased in tabacchi shops and are good for 60 minutes of rides and transfers. We went way over that time limit to get back home and no one ever checked our tickets.

Greco Orthodox Church of Trieste

The Lungomare goes past the Harbor

The Castello di Giusto was built on old Roman ruins in the 1500’s and embellished later. It offers spectacular views of Trieste. When we came out from our tour of the castle, a bunch of kids were playing football amidst the old columns. Can you imagine an American archaeologist or museum curator watching footballs bouncing off their Roman remains?!!

The view from the castle was worth the trip up the hill--can you find our hotel?

Look for this

The Castello Miramare was basically a nice home for a very wealthy couple from Milano. It was finished in 1860, the time of the unification of Italy, but the Trieste area was still Austro-Hungarian at the time.The Castle is maintained by the park system and as such I'm sure the old owners would be horrified to see the far from pristine condition. It takes a lot of financing to keep a castle looking like it's still a home. We have to report that it looks a bit worn and tired--like travelers after a long trip.

Ahhh, we almost forgot a modern asset of Trieste--  Lo Shopping. Our teacher told us there are 1000 shops in the central area where we stayed. We saw and experienced many and Guido even purchased a Milano-made sport coat and shirts-- finally able to find some Italian clothes that fit for those “special occasions”. On the edge of the fancy shopping district, we found more simple places including Chinese shops similar to those here in Calabria.

We really enjoyed our holiday in Trieste and would recommend it to those looking for a bit of a different experience. There are tours available into Slovenia and (in summer) boat tours down to the Croatia coastal towns.

The question we ask ourselves after every trip is “Should we have moved here instead of Santa Domenica”? If we ever changed our minds about living in a large city in Italy, Trieste would surely be better than Napoli, Roma, Milano, Torino, Bari, etc. for us city-phobes. It reminds us of Portland, Oregon in many ways.


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