Trieste, Italy, is a city located at the crossroads. This port town of importance has been in the hands of many people, including the Venetians and the Hapsburg monarchy, who poured money into the city, as well as the Germans during WWII. It was actually only returned to Italy in 1954. It has a unique, vibrant culture that combines land and sea, war, peace and war.
Austrian architecture, café culture, and the stunning views from the seaside have drawn writers and artists for decades. The city was also beloved by Sigmund Freud. Trieste, the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia today, is a treasure trove of history, art and unique cuisine that continues to charm travelers.
Are you planning a trip to Trieste These are the top things to do, see and eat in Trieste.
Trieste: What’s to See?
Just 5km from Trieste, the ornate Castello Miramare is perched high above the sea and cliffs. Between 1855 and1860, the castle was built by Maximilian of Austria, a restless archduke. You’ll find evidence of his vanity and wealth inside, including portraits in almost every room, separate dining rooms for summer and winter, and a throne that was never used. After trying to become Mexico’s monarch in one of the most outrageous empire-building ventures of the 19th century, the Archduke was executed. Ironically, he was loved by nearly everyone who knew him. He refused to accept any attempts to escape his fate, probably out of love for Mexico. His last words were:
“I forgive everyone and ask everyone to forgive. My blood, which is about to spill, may be for the benefit of the country. Viva Mexico, viva la independencia!”
The castle is, just like the man, quite agreeable. Enjoy the stunning views from the wrap-around balcony and then relax to the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks below.
The castle is open from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Tickets are EUR8.00. The park admission is free.
Viale Miramare, Tel. +390 40 22 41 43.
Trieste is a city that you should visit without learning about the darkest chapter of its history. The Nazis converted the Risiera (or rice mill) into a prison camp and concentration camp during WWII. It was the only Nazi concentration camp in Italy with a crematorium. It was used to transport, detain and kill political prisoners. An estimated 3,000 died here. The citizens of Trieste were aware that Nazis had occupied the building, and that they were using it as a prison. However, the SS officers used loudspeakers to block the sound of killing and the smell of corpses. They also kept the cremations secret until the end of the war. The museum is a sad reminder of Trieste’s wartime suffering. It is definitely worth a visit.
The museum is open daily from 9:00am to 7:00pm. The museum is open to all. The entrance fee is EUR2.00. However, audioguides are highly recommended for understanding the empty spaces. To reach via Giovanni Palatucci (5, take bus 8 or 10
Piazza Unita d’Italia
Visitors to Trieste will be stunned by the architecture and sheer size of Piazza Unita d’Italia. It is Italy’s largest piazza facing the sea and has been a symbol for the power of the port city. It was created by Maria Theresa of Austria, the 18th century reign that brought the city’s most prosperous era. The city was the Hapsburg Empire’s sole port, so she flooded it with money. As a symbol for the Empire’s amazing architecture and urban planning, the Piazza was built.
Take a look at the Viennese architecture in the evening, then sip a glass of wine and watch the lighthouse rise above the bay.
Trieste’s main church, the St. Justus Cathedral, is a symbol of the city and a lasting reminder of its past. It was built on top of two other churches from 1300. A large Roman rose window is visible outside, as well as a 1337 statue of St. Justus. The interior is filled with stunning Byzantine tiles, similar to those found in Ravenna. One of the most striking images is that of Christ against a background of gold from the 1200s, which can be found in the Chapel of San Giusto.
Il Ghetto e The Synagogue of Trieste
The Synagogue in Trieste is a great place to learn about the city’s rich history and diverse cultures. It was built in 1912 and is one of Europe’s most significant. Although it was closed in 1942 the Synagogue was reopened as soon as the war ended.
For independent travelers, the Synagogue is available Sunday mornings at 3:45pm-4:45pm or at 5:45pm. Tuesdays are open at 9:30am, 10:30am and 11:30am for guided tours. Entry costs EUR3.50 per head. Address: Via San Francesco 19,
Joyce and Svevo Museum
Trieste has many museums, but why not explore the mind and work of Trieste’s most renowned authors at the Museo di Joyce e Svevo. You can also see photos of Joyce’s first editions, and the cafes and bars where Joyce frequented.
To learn more about Joyce’s life in Trieste, visit our blog. We offer information on how to travel Italy following the steps of great writers.
The museum is open Monday to Saturday, 9:00am to 1:00pm, and Thursdays from 3:00pm until 7:00pm. Address: Via Madonna del Mare 13, 2nd floor.
The Canal Grande is exactly what its name suggests: It’s a long, wide canal located in the middle of Teresiano. Maria Theresa built the Borgo Teresiano in 18th century. It hints at 19th-century religious tolerance thanks to the Serbian Orthodox Church next to the Catholic Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Taumaturgo. The Roma bridge also features a statue of James Joyce in life size.
La Grotta Gigante
Enjoying the natural beauty of Trieste is one of the best things to do. The Karst is a huge limestone plateau that stretches across northern Italy and into southern Slovenia. Most famous for its numerous cave systems, the Karst is also known as “The Cavest”. Grotta Gigante is a nearby tourist cave that can be explored. It is one of the most popular in the world. The cave’s one cavity is large enough to house St. Peter’s Basilica. The Cave of Trebiciano is also accessible. It plunges 1,150 feet below the ground. The Timavo River flows to the bottom, where it merges into Slovenia and the Skocjan Caves. It’s only 19 miles from Trieste, even though it’s located in Slovenia. It flows into the sea in Italy near Duino through a series springs believed to be the entry to the underworld by the Romans.
What should I eat
It is best to sample Trieste’s food and culture. You’ll also find more traditional Italian dishes, but the Trieste traditional dishes have a decidedly MittelEuropean flair. There are also Eastern European ingredients found in Trieste that are not available elsewhere in Italy. These include cabbage, horseradish and cren. Other Trieste favourites include cabbage rolls and goulash.
Try the Jota soup to get a taste of these “unitalian” ingredients. The cabbage is fermented and boiled with red beans for hours. The dish is then topped with sausage, smoked pork, and sometimes potatoes. It’s a creamy, hearty, deliciously creamy and filling. Gnocchi de Susini are Italian. However, they can be made with sugar, cinnamon, and fruit. Gnocchi can be prepared with ripe plums and egg, cinnamon, sugar, and sugar. They are best enjoyed as a first course, which is a rare experience in Trieste.
Trieste is a port city so you can’t miss the fish. Sardoni are large sardines, which is one of the most popular dishes. They are usually fried and breaded, with a vinegar-and-onion marinade. There are many ways to prepare bass, tuna and mussels from the Gulf of Trieste.
What to Drink
You can pair your meat and fish with the perfect wine. It is home to some Italy’s most coveted wines. These include Refosco and Merlot, Chardonnays, Pinot Biancos, Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blancs, and Terrano from Carso, just outside of Trieste. Triestini are experts in winemaking and can also drink it. Bars are often frequented at any hour of the day because they believe that every hour is a good time to enjoy a glass of wine.
Triest’s most well-known culinary tradition is coffee. Triest is home to the best coffee and cafe culture in Italy, even though Venetians might challenge this assertion. The city’s tax-free status has been a long tradition. It was the port that brought the first coffee beans to Europe during Europe’s first coffee craze. Illy, the Italian coffee king, has its headquarters here today. The city also imports many other brands. To get a small espresso, order a caffe trytino and add a little whipped cream.
Pair your coffee with one of the many mouthwatering desserts in the city to channel James Joyce. You’ll find the Viennese influence here with strudel and sacher as well as krapfen or doughnuts everywhere. Trieste’s most popular desserts are the pinza and presnitz.and putizza,respectively, an Easter cake, another Easter Cake, and a Christmas cake. These desserts are made with walnuts and raisins, pine nuts, dried oranges and dried citrus. There are so many dessert options here that you won’t be disappointed!
Before you go
Although you can see most of Trieste in just two days, it is worth spending at least three days to really get to know the city. If you plan to visit the nearby caves and other cities, give yourself at least five days. Although parts of the city can be quite hilly, you can still walk most of it. You can take a taxi to reach the Risiera (which is a little outside the city’s center), or you can use Trieste’s bus service for a little over EUR1.00 per trip.
Trieste is a charming city all year, but it retains a mysterious atmosphere that can make you feel sad. Warm street lamps illuminate the city’s streets in winter, and the fog from the port in summer. Winter means that the huge Piazza dell’Unita di Italia is decorated with Christmas lights, pine trees, and Christmas markets will come to town. However, warmer weather allows for Trieste’s excellent coffee culture and endless happy hours at outdoor tables. To protect yourself against the strong Bora wind that blows frequently in the northeast, make sure you bring a scarf or jacket.