Posted: 10/20/2008


       Situated on the Gulf of Trieste at the head of the Adriatic Sea this very interesting city in Friuli Venezia Giulia was part of the Roman Empire from 177 BC, Byzantine from the 5th-8th Centuries, then part of the Frank Kingdom and then the Republic of Venice, briefly under Napoleon's France but mostly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and it's chief port until World War I, when it became part of Italy. Nazi Germany was in control from 1943-45 and an Anglo-American protectorate for 9 years until becoming Italian again in 1954. From the airport you travel by the splendid coastal road past the Castle of Miramare built by Archduke Maximillian of Austria who was later executed while trying to rule Mexico.

     If I could describe it on one word I would use the Italian word ELEGANTE, with its fantastic Piazza Dell Unita d'Italia, with the City Hall and many great buildings,and open to the sea. I was lucky enough to catch a beautiful bride and her tiny bridesmaid posing for photographs next to the magnificent Fountain of the Four Continents on her way to her wedding, and I joined the many admirers in planting a gentle kiss on her cheek for good luck. Due to it's Viennese influence it is famous for its classical coffee houses and I visited 5 of them. I started on the square with the Caffe degli Specchi then Cafe Tommaseo, Caffe San Marco, Stella Polare, Pasticceria Pirona for rest, refreshment, meeting and culture.

     Famous Irish writer James Joyce lived and taught here and also in Pula, for more than a decade and there is a statue of him on the bridge over the Canale Grande in the city centre, He penned Ulysses, The Dubliners and more while a resident. It's also famous for pizza and I was lucky enough to stay in a small hotel 30 metres around the corner from Pizzeria Ghega where I gorged myself 3 times from its menu of 60 plus pizzas, and even nearer, 20 metres away was Gellatoria Zambolli. I chatted with the owner Franco and one of his assistants Jessica and was given small scoop samples of a dozen of the 75 flavours. My favourites were Zuppa Inglese, Mozart Pastelle, Clementine, Uva, Vela Verde. HOWEVER, it was the Granita Siciliana that was out of this world. Made with fresh fruits daily, I sampled limon, arancon, mandarrino, mandola.

    They speak a special Triestin dialect and on the Eastern suburbs, Slovenian just a kilometre away. At one time there were two football (calcio) teams in two different national leagues. Triestina played in Serie A while Ponziane changed its name to Amata and played in the Yugoslav League. I took bus No 10 to a meeting at the striking Stadio Nereo Rocco named after the legendary Italian coach nicknamed El Paron (the master). He is a native, loved speaking the dialect and won two European Cup titles coaching AC Milan in 1963 and 1969, and introduced 'catenaccio'.  It's recognized by FIGC and UEFA as the 5th best stadium in Italy with 4 steep stands and a bust of Rocco.  Its home of US Triestina Calcio and I met with team manager Marco Cernaz who was preparing the way for a trip to Brescia in a Serie B match which they were to lose 3-2.

     During the Hapsburg period a couple of important companies were founded, around the 1830's. First was Lloyd Trieste still an important shipping company, and Generali a big player is world wide insurance. Also the USS Trieste , a Mercedes-class Federation starship is a 24th Century vehicle in the Paramount movie 'Star Wars'.

      The Centrale Railway Station next to the bus station has a classical frontage from 1878 when the line to Vienna was completed, but inside it's been completely renovated less than a year ago, and is all glass and marble with new cafes, a James Joyce book store, travel agencies and brand new rest rooms. I took a look and there they were - Turkish squat toilets for the 21st Century traveller.