Trieste

Originally, Trieste was a stopover on my way around the Adriatic to Dubrovnik. When I realized that Croatia was going to take more time than I had, both in terms of planning and length of stay in Europe, Trieste remained on my list of places to visit, for no other reason than it sounded interesting.

Everything I read led me to think of Trieste as a quiet, not-much-visited city, but I didn’t reckon on “Barcolana,” a week-long sailing festival, culminating in a race in which over 1500 sailboats take part. Over the course of my three-day visit, the waterfront became crowded with the booths of sponsors and vendors and the Piazza Unità d’Italia was the scene of a variety of multimedia events. As a former sailor, I enjoyed seeing the boats, especially when they were under sail.

Clockwise from top left:  water jetpack and jet ski; evening activity on the waterfront; under sail; sailor and dog.

Clockwise from top left: water jetpack and jet ski; evening activity on the waterfront; under sail; sailor and dog.

Away from the waterfront and the piazza, the city was going about its business. There is a pedestrian zone a couple of blocks back from the waterfront, with shops, bars, and restaurants, where the passeggiata, the evening stroll through the city center, takes place. Intriguing alleyways and stairways lead up the hills to the cathedral and castle.

Clockwise from top left:  the Grand Canal; the Piazza Unità d'Italia; sunflowers in stone; Saturday morning at the cafe.

Clockwise from top left: the Grand Canal; the Piazza Unità d’Italia; sunflowers in stone; Saturday morning at the cafe.

There aren’t any ‘must-sees’ in Trieste like the Louvre or the Uffizi, but what I did see was wonderful.  I wrote in an earlier post how much I enjoyed Miramare.  The day after that, I visited the museum of the sea.  All of the exhibit captions were in Italian (which I knew going in), but I enjoyed seeing the ship models and instruments and the dioramas of fishing.  By walking to this museum, I also saw marinas further away from the city center, where there was a thicket of masts.

Clockwise from top left:  Trieste sailing; sailboats at a marina; lighthouse at the end of a marina; buoys glowing in late afternoon sunshine.

Clockwise from top left: Trieste sailing; sailboats at a marina; lighthouse at the end of a marina; buoys glowing in late afternoon sunshine.

Of course, I did some geocaching, replacing my ‘farthest east’ from Venice last year with one of my finds in Trieste. As often happens, looking for a geocache provided a walking tour of the city and led me to a location I might not otherwise have seen, like the Teatro Romano. It also provided an introduction to a stranger when I met a fellow geocacher on the waterfront one evening. He was from Austria, visiting his parents in Trieste and had participated in Barcolana one year. It was great talking to him and I ran into him, his wife and their baby on the waterfront the next morning.

I loved knowing I was about as far east as one could get in Italy, I loved being in a port city, and I loved being able to see the city on foot. There’s something so intimate and interesting about seeing a city from that perspective and it was great to be in a city compact enough to make that possible.

Castello di Miramare

In my travels, I have visited homes of the aristocracy, including a palace or two. There’s always been something to admire about each of them and a couple of times, I’ve been awestruck. It wasn’t until today, however, that I felt a personal connection with one of these homes. I visited Miramare Castle (near Trieste, Italy), built by the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg as a residence for him and his wife. What struck me most about the Archduke was that he loved the sea and his favorite activity, according to the audio guide, was reading.  A man after my own heart!

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The Archduke was in the Austrian Navy and many of the elements of his rooms reflect that. This room was paneled in wood and the ceiling lowered to mimic a cabin on a ship. The bed was brass like that on a ship, but I’m not sure a portrait would have been standard furnishings!

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In the library, Maximilian wanted to celebrate the literary genius of four diverse cultures:  Greek, Italian, Anglo-Saxon and German. These are represented by busts of Dante, Goethe, Shakespeare (spelled Shakspeare on the bust), and Homer.

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It was the view from the terrace that made me understand why Maximilian had chosen this rocky outcrop for his home.

Before I left the castle grounds, I walked out on a stone jetty, where boats would have pulled up to discharge guests arriving by water. The wind was blowing, the waves were crashing against the jetty and I could look far out into the Adriatic.  It was wonderful, as was this view of the castle.

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