Trieste: A Very Germanic Italian City

In Saint Justus cathedral.

In Saint Justus cathedral.

This morning we are back in Italy, in Trieste, a town I knew very little about. It turns out this city was under Austrian rule for many years (in the 1300s, city fathers cut a deal to avoid Venetian domination), so it’s an interesting hybrid city complete with a wide variety of religious denominations and a coffee-house culture. Restaurants have pasta and sauerkraut. A key fact to discover for me, was to learn Maximilian and crazy Carlotta were from Trieste before they attempted to rule Mexico. Their home (palace), Maramare Castle is a big attraction here.

We took a panoramic bus tour so we could see some of the local sights starting with the city’s central Piazza dell’Unita d’Italia. We drove along the coast and saw miles of sunbathers lounging on cement sea walls and suburban villas with lovely sea views and lush landscaping. Interestingly, James Joyce spent some serious time here before being driven out by the advent of WWI.

A few centuries ago, the Roman’s occupied this area and we saw some ruins including an ancient amphitheater built strategically along the original shore to take advantage of the wind influence to enhance acoustics. We visited the cathedral dedicated to Saint Justus (on San Giusto Hill), and saw the beautiful mosaics inside, as well as how two different churches had been combined into one. Views of the city from the Hill were terrific.

There are many newer buildings from the 50’s due to necessary post-war construction; this area was heavily bombed. Older buildings have been restored, keeping the historical buildings in this seafaring crossroads true to form. Originally the first floors were for storage and built out of stone with higher than average ceilings for maximum space.

Everyone here drives motor-scooters: old, young, moms taking kids to school, friends riding holding their crutches, women dressed in long skirts, shorts, etc, but all wearing helmets and zipping along.

My husband took a walk around town in the afternoon, exploring on his own and eventually working his way onto an Italian tall ship used to train upcoming naval officers. Today it was involved in some sort of ceremonial event with the Italian navy, politicians and other military personnel. He just joined a large group and toured the ship, masquerading as an Italian guest . . . only he could pull that off.

We had another delicious dinner on board the Azamara Quest before packing our bags for the journey home.

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