Trieste Travel Guide
many kilometres of flat terrain the landscape suddenly changes and the
eye is awakened. Orderly patterns of right-angled lines give way to
rugged stretches signalling the first formations of the limestone Carso
as it plunges down to the sea. This marks the beginning of the province
Leaving the motorway at Lisert and following the trunk road to Trieste,
near the ancient church of San Giovanni in Tuba (at San Giovanni di Duino) is the first site of interest to
naturalists: the mouths of the
river Timavo. Rising on the slopes of Monte Nevoso near the village of
San Canziano, the Timavo plunges into an abyss and begins its 35
kilometres underground course.
Its point of resurfacing at San Giovanni
is of such beauty as to have fired the imagination to Virgil, who
mentions it in the Aeneid. A few kilometres further along the road to
Trieste is the district of Duino Aurisina, distinguished by Duino
Castle and the clifftop Rilke Path.
The Path is named after the Austrian-born Prague poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who in 1911-2 stayed at Duino Castle as the guest of the Princes
of Torre e Tasso. Tradition has it that his walks along the cliffs
provided him with the inspiration to write his Duino Elegies. The rocky
Path runs for two kilometres in a magnificent natural setting between
Duino and Sistiana, alternating wooded stretches with superb views of
the sea from the top of precipitous cliffs.
From Duino and Sistiana the most scenic route to Trieste is along the
Coast Road, covering about 20 kilometres between the white rocks of the
Carso and the sea.
Beyond Duino Aurisina is the municipality of Sgonico, covering 32
square kilometres. It comprises twelve villages, known administratively
as fractions. Mention should be made of the remains of a small church
on Monte San Leonardo which go back to the first Christian settlements.
There is also a beautiful little 18th century church surrounded by
greenery in Samatorza. Sgonico has retained a predominantly rural
character which finds its most typical expression in its many farmhouse
restaurants and the “osmizze”, whose origins go back to a 1784 edict of
the Austro-Hungarian Emperor granting peasants the right to sell their
wine and certain foods for eight days in a year.
These restaurants and osmizze,
which are indicated by branches of ivy hanging by the roadside, offer
opportunity of tasting and buying the area's characteristic produce.
The district of Sgonico also has the Carsian Botanical GardenCarsian
Botanical Garden, founded in 1964 by a group of botanists and Carso flora-lovers. It is located 18 kilometres from Trieste on the
provincial road from Gabrovizza to Sgonico. This location was chosen on
the strength of its natural features, which are a microcosm of the
typical Carso environment – the broad basin of a sinkhole (dolina),
potholes and Karst surface rock formations. Its name derives from the
intent to collect and conserve the most significant species of Carso vegetation. The Carsiana thus comprises all the distinguishing features
of Carso landscape – heathland, scrub and undergrowth, dolinas, rock
vegetation and scree.
Near Borgo Grotta Gigante is the Grotta Gigante
(gigant cave), an exception in terms of Carso rock formations. Its
central chamber, entirely accessible to visitors, is no less than 380
metres long, 65 metres wide and 107 metres high. At the entrance to the
cave is the Speleological Museum, with an interesting series of exhibits on the history of local caving
Monrupino is another tourist attraction. The summit of its hill
provides a fine view of the Gulf of Trieste. The village is dominated
by the fortress, which started life as a prehistoric stronghold, was
then turned into a Roman fort and finally served as a bulwark against
Turkish invasion. In 1512 a church was built to the Blessed Virgin of
the Assumption; it has since become a sanctuary. The village is also
the venue of the Carso Wedding, a four-day folk event held every other August. In nearby Rupigrande is the Carso Home, a museum in a 19th
century house displaying all the architectural features typical of the
rural tradition of the Carso.
The municipality of San Dorligo della Valle comprises 33 villages. In
San Dorligo itself, lying close to the San Servolo plateau, is a
Baroque church with a late 18th century bell-tower. Mention should also
be made of the charming little church of San Martino, whose facade is a
fine example of well-proportioned simplicity.
The predominating feature of this area is Val Rosandra, a valley
produced by the erosion of the picturesque Rosandra stream. It flows
quicly down steep slopes, forming waterfalls, deep transparent pools
and some more gentle stretches. Above the stream are imposing white
rock walls used by large numbers of climbers, and many paths available
for walkers and hikers. At the mouth of the valley are the remains of a
Roman aqueduct built to supply water to the town of Tergeste. It is a
stone – and brick-built canal which carried the valley's water from
Bagnoli to the centre of what is now Trieste.
In the extreme south-east of the Province, hemmed in by the Slovene border, the valley of Muggia and the Gulf of Trieste, is the
municipality of Muggia, a significant tourist centre.
Its territory is fronted by a 7 kilometres coastline and backed by a
chain of hills – Monte Castellier, Monte San Michele and Monte d'Oro –
which dominate the panorama of a large stretch of Italian territory and
Its characteristic vegetation is that of the Istrian carso. Muggia
still bears eloquent traces of its ancient history: a large prehistoric
fortified village on Monte Castellier (Santa Barbara) and the 9th
century Basilica di Muggia Vecchia on its hilltop. Together with
remains of the walls guarding the settlement, the Basilica stands
witness to Muggia's Roman (castrum) and medieval past. Before the year
1000 a new settlement was built on the shoreline. Its initial name was
Borgolauro and it was subsequently called Muggia, derived from an
ancient term meaning “coastal marsh”. In the second half of the 13th
century the new town was given the status of Comune – a municipality.
This period saw the construction of the Duomo and the Palazzo del Comune, which was rebuilt in the 20th
century. Having passed under
Venetian control in 1420, Muggia thereafter shared the history of Venice, and still retains evidence of their common interests and
costums: dialect, gastronomy and Venetian-Gothic architecture.
The bathing establishments in and around Muggia are shady and confortable, its campsites are spacious and well-equipped and nearby
the little harbous at San Bartolomeo is an attractive location. For
some years now a water sports centre has also been active at Porto San
Rocco. Among the various events on the local socio-cultural calendar,
pride of place goes to the pageant of the Muggia Carnival, which
involves the entire town in the design of the allegorical floats and
extravagant costumes on parade.
The Carso, fauna and environments
For geological and biological reasons alike, the Carso plateau is of
great naturalistic importance. Starting with its south-west facing
coastal strip, the mild influence of the sea provides a typical
Mediterranean environment, marked by endemic species such as the
fringed centaurea and evergreens including holm oak, laurel and mock privet. The tops of the cliffs on the coastal strip form a brow which
acts as a climatic barrier between the coastal Carso and its interior
plateau. The plateau has a more continental climate, encouraging the
growth of the Illyrian-Balkan plant species which go to make up wooded
areas typified by Turkey oak, downy oak and common oak, accompanied by
other broadleaf species such as hornbeam, flowering ash, field maple,
cornel and hazel-nut. These areas are the kingdom of the roebuck, while
the carnivores inhabiting them foxes, golden jackals, badgers and the
occasional wildcat. The birds of prey nesting in woodland areas are the goshawk,
buzzerd, sparrowhawk, longeared owl and scops owl.
The felling of the ancient Carso forests, which began in prehistoric times, and the subsequent use of the cleared land for pasture
a particurlarly uneven landscape, apparently dry and barren, which has
been given the name of Carso heathland.
This land is characterised by
thorny bushes such as juniper, and poisonous plants such as spurge,
which were given a wide berth by grazing livestock.
The Carso plateau is peppered with sinkholes called dolinas, some so
narrow as to be funnel-shaped, that act as traps for cold air. As a result, dolina wooland is made up for the most part of
the undergrowth has many species in common with that found in mountain
The Carso is also well known for its many caves and caverns, forming a
fascinating subterranean world. The largest known cave is the Grotta Skilan, whose entrance is near
Basovizza. It is 378 metres deep and
takes the form of a system of chambers and tunnels over six kilometres
in length. Two potholes lead to underground watercourses: the Grotta di
Trebiciano, near the village of the same name, and the Grotta Lazzaro Jerco,
near Monrupino. The ground under the Carso is a rich in rivers and
streams as its surface is devoid of them. As a result the inhabitants
were compelled to built ponds, troughs and tanks to supply themselves
with water. After being abandoned, many of these constructions quickly
became oases, playing host to a number of aquatic plant animal species
sufficient to make them the locations with the hightest biodiversity on
the Carso. An environmental case apart is Val Rosandra, a deep gorge
scoured in the Eocene limestone by the stream which gives the valley
its name. Distinghishing its fauna is the Eurasian eagle owl, which
nests on the rock walls of the valley.
The Carso then, even in the limited terms of the stretch lying within
the Province of Trieste, never fails to strike the visitor with the
wealth of its natural phenomena, endowed by the presence of a mosaic of
different environments playing host to a large number of living species, making it an exceptional and irreplaceable
History of the City
Discussing the origins of Trieste, historians sometimes set aside their
customary academic rigour and cite ancient legends which tell that the
city was founded by Tergeste, a friend of Jason and his Argonauts, who
decided to make a landfall here. Other stories make mention of Noah, no less, and his son
Japhet, who landed on these shores to create the
kingdom of Japhidia on the Carso.
Trieste was in fact founded by proto-Veneto tribes, as is witnessed by
the prehistoric fortified settlements (defended by walls built with cut stone) constructed on San Giusto hill a number of Carso
while – myths aside – there is clear pre-historical evidence as to the
origin of the city itself, the same cannot be said of its name.
There are two theories. The first has it that the Latin name Tergeste
derives from Ter-egestum, meaning thrice-built, and according to the
second name is formed of the Indo-European root Terg (market) and the
Veneto suffix Este, meaning town or city. Be that as it many, it was
the settlement's geographical position that determined its destiny.
Realising the strategic importance of these lands, the Romans sent
their legions to conquer it and in so doing defeated the Istri, who
were allied to Carthage.
Having finally achieved victory in a demanding campaign, the Romans
left a number of bases on the Carso and on the hill that dominated the
This was the ancient Tergeste, a Roman colony that came into being in
or about 178 B.C.
Though its induction into the Latin world brought about further warfare
with neighbouring tribes, it also led to commercial prosperity,
cultural refinement, urban development and the construction of road
communications, all of which started under the reign of Octavian (about
30 B.C.) and was consolidated during the imperial period. Christianity,
which reached this part of the world late in the 1st century, was
subject to persecution. One of its martyrs was Giusto, who later became
patron saint of Trieste.
With the Barbarian invasions that followd the fall of the Western
Empire, the city name under the fule of the Goths, who were
subsequently drivan out by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Then, after years of conflict and
confusion, the Lomabrd razed Trieste
to the ground. Its reconstruction was accompanied by the formation of
the Numerous tergestinus, a military body organised for civil defence.
One bright feature of the dark centuries which followed was the signing
in 804 of the Placito del Risano, a decree by means of which the people
of Trieste and Istria attempted to protect themselves from the mayhem
and violence of the times. Meanwhile, local bishops were acquiring increasing temporal power as
barons under the Carolingian system, and the figure of the Chamberlain
(Gastaldo, an official elected by the people or appointed by a
appeared in the context of burgeoning Venetian power.
The bishop-barons tried to ward off the tide of Venetian expansion, but
in 1202 Doge Enrico Dandolo took Trieste and forced it to swear
allegiance to Venice. With the help of the Patriarchs of Aquileia
Trieste rebelled against this dominion, which gave rise to a long
series of wars between Venice and the Patriarchate. Though the city was
retaken by the Venetians, after the War of Chioggia Trieste finally
gained recognition of its freedom. Since Venice continued to pose a threat,
however, in 1382 Trieste placed itself under the protection of
Duke Leopold of Austria, beginning a political relationship that was to
last for more than five centuries.
This was the final act of a stage in Medieval history marked by obscure
intrigues such as the plot hatched by Marco Ranfo, a 14th century
notable who tried to overthrow the Municipality and found a Seigniory,
and the rise of a patrician class made up of 13 families, which
actually ran the city for centuries.
After a brief period of Spanish
domination in the 16th century, and a series of disasters such as
pestilence and famine, in the 18the century Trieste finally saw a new horizon.
As the Habsburg Empire's natural outlet to the sea, in 1719 Trieste was
accorded the status of Free Port, which marked the beginning of a long
period of prosperity for the city. The lifting of customs barriers
broughts large numbers of entrepreneurs and merchants from all over
Europe and the Mediterranean area, which improved standards of living,
stimulated urban development and gave rise to an unprecedented
The reign of Empress Maria Theresa saw the foundation and growth of
great shipping (Lloyd Triestino) and insurance companies (Generali,
RAS) as well as new industries, all of which contributed to remarkable
At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries Trieste
was occupied for three relatively brief periods by Napoleon's armies.
In the second half of the 19th century the Italian Risorgimento
stimulated the growth of irredentism in the city. This process
culminated at the end of the First World War, which marked the
disintegration fo the Habsburg Mitteleuropa to which Trieste had
belonged for centuries, and the return of Italian rule to the city (November 3rd 1918).
Following Italy's withdrawal from the Second World War on September 8th
1943, Trieste and Venezia Giulia were incorporated under the direct
government of the Third Reich.
But German defeat and the end of the war did not produce a solution to
the area's delicate position. After a 40-day occupation by Tito's
Yugoslav army in May 1945, Trieste spent no fewer than nine years under
an Anglo-American military government before an international
compromise was agreed to establish Italy's eastern border, which had
been subject to Yugoslav territorial claims. After years of tension and
uncertainty with regard to its future, Trieste was handed over to the
italian government on October 26th 1954.
Squares of Trieste
On the left before Piazza della Borsa is the great square building
called the Tergesteo, formerly customs headquarters and the city governor's residence.
While the exterior presents simple lines (including marble statue
groups representing Trade, Industry and Shipping), the interior is
built to a remarkable design: a huge glassvaulted cross, deisgned by A.
Buttazzoni and construted by F. Bruyn between 1840 and 1842. It also
acts covered walkway between Piazza della Borsa and Piazza del Teatro.
Triangular in shape, Piazza della Borsa is bounded by buildings from a
range of epochs and in varying styles.
The square gets its name from the Old Stock Exchange (Borsa Vecchia),
now the seat of the Chamber of Commerce. It was built (1799-1806) to a
design by A. Mollari. In neo-Classical style, the building has a
pronaos marked out by four great Doric colums which form a large concourse. On the ground-level exterior are statues symbolising Asia,
Vulcan, Europe, Africa, Mercury and America.
The top of the pediment bears sculptures representing the Genius of
Trieste, Neptune, Minerva and the Danube. The bas-reliefs symbolising Trade,
Shipping, Industry and Plenty are by A. Bosa, who was also responsible, with his
son, for the historical scenes decorating the
grand central salon.
Seen from the front of the Old Stock Exchange,
to the right is Palazzo Dreher (The New Stock Exchange), whose
sumptuously curving facade gives it a striking presence in the square.
In contrast with its richly decorated exterior is a soberly functional
interior (1929), designed by the architect Geiringer after the style of
G. Pulitzer Finali who, with the Stuard studio, formed the modern
Trieste style of the time, especially in naval architecture.
Palazzo Dreher stands at the beginning of Via Cassa di Risparmio, at
No. 10 of which i sthe seat of the bank of the same name, designed in
16th century style by E. Nordio. Opposite Palzzo Dreher is the
Renaissance-style Casa Rusconi, designed by G. Scalmanini. The third
floor of the building houses the fashion and style of Anita Pittoni, an
innovator in textile designs since the end of the 1920s. In the
opposite corner, at the junction of Corso Italia and Via Roma, is the
Palazzina Romano, a sober specimen of 18th-century architecture
restored by G. Polli in 1919 and 1920.
Opposite the Old Stock Exchange the green building of the Casa Bartoli
(1905, designed by M. Fabiani) informs us of a direct contact with the
Wagnerschule, to which Fabiani belonged.
Housing shops and flats, the Casa is distinguished by broad glass
surfaces and a graffiti decoraion bearing witness to the local
variation of Art Nouveau.
On the right of Corso Italia from Piazza della Borsa begins the
Piacentini complex (1935-1939), which stands as the most striking
architectural manifestation of the urban planning associated with the
large-scale demolition of the old city in the 1930s. Cutting an
imposing figure in the area's architectural fabric, this building has a
long central arcade decorated, as are its entrances, with frescoes by
Carlo Sbisà, an artist who combined echoes of the Renaissance with the
contemporary spirit through a personal reinvention.
The triangle marked out by the buildings described here contains a
column surmounted by a bronze statue of Habsburg Emperor Leopold I,
erected to commemorate his visit to Trieste.
This area is at the centre of the district known as the Borgo Teresiano, named after Habsburg Empress Maria
Theresa, the driving
force behind its construction. Built over the first half of the 19th
century on land previously given over to salt works, it displays a
rigid grid-iron pattern characterised by right-angled crossroads. As a
global model of urban planning, its design phase contained detailed
definitions of all the rules and architectural features of the
buildings which would compose it, the objective being a “new town”
meeting all the requirements of a modern commercial centre. The
buildings had to have three storeys: storehouses on the ground floor,
living quarters on the first and offices on the second. Each building
was to have an inner courtyard, used as a garden or for the cultivation
of vegetables. The many canals in the Borgo were designed for the
transportation of goods right to the heart of the city.
The only one of
these left today is the Canale Grande, partially filled in, which still
provides a striking centre-piece for a large rectangular area running
from the neo-Classical facade of the Church of Sant'Antonio Nuovo to
the waterfront. Between the two is the Serb Orthodox church of San Spiridione, bearing witness to the long-standing peaceful coexistence
of a range of faiths in Trieste.
Piazza del Ponterosso is also distinguished by the Mazzoleni fountain
(1753), which supplied water from a specially-built aqueduct to the new
urban development. Several buildings are worthy of mention. Palazzo
Gopcevich (1850, designed by G. Berlam) stands out for its
neo-Renaissance style. The building designed by Buttazzoni (1837),
occupying numbers 1 and 2 of that square, houses the Fondazione
Giovanni Scaramangà di Altomonte, where historic local documents are conserved. Among the few surviving historic cafès (Caffè degli Specchi,
Caffè San Marco, Caffè Tommaseo), in Piazza Sant'Antonio stands the old
Caffè Stella Polare. On Via Ponchielli is the Baroque Casa Czeike
(1770, designed by Bubolini), where the simple lines of the building
stand in contrast to the imposing arched entrance supporting a large balcony.
From Piazza del Ponterosso Via Santa Caterina leads into Piazza della
Repubblica, whre two buildings stand opposite each
These are local head office of the Banca Commerciale Italiana (1909, E. Nordio), and the head office of the RAS insurance company
Adriatica di Sicurità, E. and A. Berlam, 1913). The latter has a
sumptuous entrance hall featuring a mosaic floor and a polychrome
marble copy (sculpted by G. Marin) of the Roman “fountain of the lions”
discovered when the building's foundations were being dug. The square
is also distinguished by Casa Smolars (R. Depaoli, 1906-07) with its
vibrant Art Nouveau lines. Further up Via Mazzini from the square is
the junction with Via Imbriani, along which is the Morpurgo Museum.
Along Via Carducci, between Piazza Goldoni and Piazza Garibaldi is the
covered market (C. jona, 1935), one of the finest examples of the
modernist architecture in which Trieste abounds, since it was an
important architectural workshop in the interwar years. Worthy of note
are the curved lines and spiral form of the many-windowed central tower.
Just off the right of Via Carducci in the direction of the station is
the beginning of Viale XX Settembre (formerly Viale dell'Axquedotto).
It was given to the city (1807-8) by Domenico Rossetti, who wished to
endow its inhabitants with a tree-lined avenue where they could stroll.
This pedestrian thoroughfare is flanked by buildings of discreet
elegance housing flats, offices and shops. It also boasts many bars,
cinemas and a theatre, and offers a pleasant environment for walkers to
linger on a summer evening at the tables placed outside between the
long rows of trees (over a kilometre), which also provide plentiful shade. Parallel to the Viale is Via Battisti and the Caffè San Marco.
This cafè is on the same block as the Synagogue, which faces Piazza Giotti.
From there, Via Zanetti leads to Via Coroneo, alongside which is the
severe and imposing Palace of Justice (E. and U. Nordio, 1913-1934).
Its facade is designed on two levels. The second features an Ionic
colonnade which is in turn surmounted by an attic with statues of
jurists sculpted by Asco and Mascherini.
The facade faces Foro Ulpiano, which leads down to Piazza Oberdan, an
area that underwent radical transformation in the 1930s.
Extensive demolition made way for a number of buildings designed to
house prestigious bodies and institutions, making Piazza Oberdan the
modern heart of the city.
An imposing architectural figure is cut by the Casa del Combattente,
featuring a slender belltower based on arches and horizontal volumes
which appear to echo the metaphysical world of De Chirico, and by the
old RAS building, also endowed with an attic but echoing above all the
influence of Piacentini. Its refined atrium is the result of
collaboration between the architect Umberto Nordio, Felicita Frai,
Achille Funi and Ugo Carà to produce an admirable synthesis of design, mosaic, fresco, and
Piazza Oberdan is also the city terminus of the “Tram de Opcina”, a
funicular tramway which since 1902 has connected the city centre with
Opicina on the Carso uplands, winding its course a steep panoramic
Just off the square in Via Filzi is the former Hotel Regina (1902-4,
designed by Max Fabiani), an elegant building of brick and stone now
home to the Faculty of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators, and close by at No. 12 in Via Ghega is the Palazzo
Rittmeyer, housing the Conservatorio Statale G. Tartini.
The City of the Music and Theatre
Trieste boasts an established tradition in music in general, but
equally long-standing is its passion for all types of theatre
production, confirmed every year by the remarkable number of tickets
sold in proportion to the population.
Many public and private institutions organise programmes of concerts
and performances in the city's theatres, churches, museums and other venues, some of which are
The main centre of production is the Fondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe
Verdi, which stages performances in the splendid Verdi Theatre and the
smaller Sala Tripcovich.
In two centuries of history the Teatro Nuovo,
opened on April 21st 1801 with Giovanni Simone Mayr's opera Ginevra di
Scozia and subsequently renamed the Teatro Grande, has played host,
among other things, to the premieres of Giuseppe Verdi's operas Il
Corsaro and Stiffelio, in 1848 and 1850 respectively. A few days after Verdi's death in 1901 the local authorities decided to rename the
theatre after him, making it the first in the world to be so named. The
Fondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi, which comprises a symphony
orchestra, choir, corps de ballet and chamber music groups, now offers
a wide range of operas, light operas, ballets and symphonic and chamber
music concerts. The opera and ballet season lasts from November to May,
presenting eight operas and three classical and modern ballet productions.
From mid-June to mid-August the Fondazione holds the International
Festival of Light Opera.
The only one of its kind in Italy, it takes pride of pace in the
Fondazione and the city alike. The works staged are Viennese, Italian,
French and Spanish. The symphonic seasons, in May, September and October, present double performances of ten or so concerts featuring
internationally renowned conductors and soloists.
Sunday mornings also feature “aperitif” concerts with the Theatre's
instrumental groups or other chamber music ensembles.
Another important musical institution is the Società dei Concerti, a
private non-profit-making body in activity for over 70 years which
organises chamber music recitals from November to April evenings at the
Chamber music concerts are also staged at the Auditorium of the Museo Revoltella, where at the various times of the year a number of bodies
organise short seasons mainly featuring young concert artists and
international prizewinning musicians.
Devotional music is presented by the Cappella Civica in San Giusto
Cathedral during Sunday mass and on other Catholic festivities. The
Cappella also organises concerts during Advent and Lent, and in
September assists in the organisation of an organ music festival.
In no way does Trieste neglect contemporary music. Every November the
Associazione “Musica Libera” organises the Festival Luigi Nono. And an
important contribution to the city's music scene is the free summer
evening concerts performed by the woodwinds of the Civica Orchestra di
Fiati outside the Harbourmaster's Office on the seafront, in addition
to their annual concert of January 6th.
A chamber music season is also offerede by the Slovene Music School,
the Glasbena Matica, presenting a selection of musicians from Slav countries.
Concerts by many Italian singer-songwriters are held at the Politeama
Rossetti and the Sala Tripcovich, as well as in the capacious venues of
the Palazzo dello Sport and the Nereo Rocco football stadium.
The Teatro Miela
acts as a special venue for alternative types of music: electronic, ethnic,
funky, jazz, mystic, pop, tribal – the most eclectic and
innovative forms performed by musicians from all over the world.
A rich selection of drama is also produced by the city's three public
The Teatro Stabile del Friuli Venezia Giulia (Repertory
Theatre), based at the Politeama Rossetti, plays host
between October and May to a varied selection of its own and guest productions, with works ranging from the great Greek classics to
20th-century plays, in addition to musicals, modern dance and the big
spectacles of the new musical theatre. Interesting contemporary drama
productions are also performed in the compact spaces of the new Sala Bartoli.
The Repertory company of the Teatro Stabile la Contrada, based at the
Teatro Cristallo, specialises in comedy theatre, with a number of
productions in local dialect.
The Slovene Repertory Theatre – Slovensko Stalno Gledalisce, founded in
1903 – is part of the Offspring Project, an association of European
minority theatres. From December to April it presents a varied
programme of drama productions, acted for the most part in Slovene.
Every summer the Roman
a number of squares, the waterfront and other city spaces are
transformed into new stages of various sizes for the presentation of
all kinds of music, theatre and dance productions ranging from the most
traditional and popular to the alternative and avant-garde.
The City of Books
Twentieth-century Trieste produced writers and poets of international
standing and renown. A series of circumstances made the city a special
vantage point for the observation and analysis of the problems of
contemporary amn – his losses and his torments- and their consequent
translation into psycological sensitivity and poetic expression.
Trieste has always generated individuals in search of their raison d'etre.
Here, identity has to constructed personally because the one an
individual is born with does not include the certainty of belonging to
a territory with its own rules and traditions.
Scipio Slataper, the brevity of whose life deprived the city of a
crystalline intellect, as well as a writer who had pinpointed the
peculiarities of his birthplace, wrote, “Trieste is a place of
transition – geographical, historical, cultural and commercial – that
is to say a place of struggle. Everything in Trieste is dual or triple,
starting with the flora and finishing with ethnicity”.
Analytical and introspective research run through the work of Svevo and
Saba alike. The very names of these writers make up a sort of
manifesto. Italo Svevo was the nom de plume of Ettore Schmitz, a Jew of
German origin who chose a name that would reflect his belonging to two
cultures (“Svevo” is the Italian for “Schwabian”). Umberto Saba, son of
Ugo abramo Poli and Rachele Coen, decided on a pseudonym in honour of
his beloved nursemaid Beppa Sabaz. Scipio is a most italian – in fact a
Latin – name which went with the Slovene surname Slataper.
None of them
was well received by the critics of the time – they were different from
their Italian contemporaries in terms of both content and form. They
all had to wait for domestic recognition.
Italo Svevo was born in Trieste on December 19th 1861 and died
following a road accident on September 13th 1928. He gained critical
acclaim abroad before being accepted in Italy, partly as a result of
the “spurious” quality of his language, which made the limpidity of his
narrative difficult to appreciate. Only well after publication did A
life, Senility and The Coscience of Zeno, to name only the most
successful of his works, find the place they deserve in the
20th-century literary firmament.
Scipio Slataper was born in Trieste on July 14th 1888 and died on
December 3rd 1915 on the Italian front line at Podgora. His My Carso
analyses Trieste's relationship with its Slovene hinterland and the
cultural peculiarities deriving from it.
Umberto Saba was born in Trieste on March 9th 1883 and died in Gorizia
on August 25th 1957. His poetry, whose finest expressions is Il Canzoniere, draws heavily on his own life experience in the formulation
of an introspection which verges on psychoanalysis.
The baton of this analysis, and an awareness that a configuration of
ungovernably changing factors may always call human destiny into question, especially for a border people, was taken up in the second
half of the century by Fulvio Tomizza, who died in Trieste in 1999. He
was born on January 26th 1935 in Materada, in Istria – once Austrian,
then Italian, subsequently Yugoslav and now in Croatia. He brought his
lucid awareness to the torment of the people who have lived in these lands.
Materada, The Girl from Petrovia and The Acacia Wood, indeed his
work as a whole, stand as an attempt to find dialogue going beyond ethnic, social and politi cal
The Civic Museums of Trieste are made up of a series of museums of
different types, conserving records of local history and culture. With
documents telling of the city's past, objects which belonged to
far-sighted collectors, exemplifying the tastes and styles of an epoch,
architectural constructions bearing witness to particular historical
moments and the popular imagination of an age, together they stand as
an important body of material for acquiring a knowledge of the city.
The Civic Museum of History and Art is
located in Via della Cattedrale. Established in the 19th century with
the aim of collecting local historical and cultural material, it houses
archaeological objects from prehistoric and protohistoric times, an
Egyptian collection, a collection of Greek vases and rooms given over
to Ancient Rome. Annexed to the Museum is the Stone Monument Garden,
whose natural greenery is an ideal setting for the cultural events held
there on summer evenings. It houses Roman epigraphs, monuments and
sculptures and a tiny neo-Classical temple with a cenotaph dedicated to
The Captain's Garden conserves medieval and modern sculptures, plinths and
inscriptions. In the nearby Castle of San
Giusto is the Castle Civic Museum,
housing a rich display of weapons obtained from private collections in
the early 20th century. In the restored interior of the Lalio Bastion,
April 4th 2001 saw the opening of the new Lapidario Tergestino,
containing inscriptions, sculptures, bas-reliefs and architectural
remains from Roman times. Since 1930 the Castle has been owned by the
City Council, which has fitted it out as a tourist attraction and uses
it for cultural events, shows and exhibitions. The Castle occupies a
particularly privileged position from a panoramic point of view. The
hill on which it stands gives a fine all-round view of the city and the
The Sartorio Civic Museum and the Morpurgo Civic Museum are
named after prestigious local families who left their homes and
furnishings to the City Council, which uses them to present images of
the daily life of the hold Triestine bourgeoisie. The Sartorio is
located in the 18th-century villa belonging to the family, which
originally hailed from San Remo. On the first floor the entire interior
design of the house is conserved intact: furniture, pictures, drawings, books,
rugs, ornaments and other objects. The second floor houses a
precious collection of drawings by Giambattista Tiepolo. There is also
the Rusconi-Opuich Collection – about 2.500 pieces: paintings, drawings,
prints, jewellery, fans, fabrics, objects in silver and
pewter – and the Stavropulos Art Collection. A Greek-born captain of industry, collector and patron of the arts who lived in Trieste and
Budapest, Socrates Stavropulos donated to the city his collection of
paintings and sculptures ranging from antiquity to the 20th century.
The Sartorio also boasts a collection of 18th-century Italian majolica,
presented together with specimens of local and English production.
The Morpurgo is sited in the apartment of a rich 19th-century family
prominent in the local entrepeneurial class. Located on the second
floor of a building in Via Imbriani designed in 1875 by Giovanni Berlam, it was bequeathed to the City Council in 1943 by Mario Morpurgo
de Nilma, a refined collector. It is a magnificent example of a
sumptuous bourgeois residence; the interior spaces, all original,
represent a range of styles typical of the second half of the 19th century.
On the first floor of the same building is the Carlo Schmidl Foundation Theatrical Museum,
formed from the legacy left by the music publisher after which it is
named and supplemente by the archives of the Teatro Verdi and a number
of other 19th- and 20th- century theatres and theatre companies. In
terms of the documents and publications contained in it, in Italy it is
secobd only to the museum of La Scala in Milan. It bears witness to the
musical life of Trieste and its theatres from 1801 the present day with posters,
programmes, photographs, prints, medals, pictures, drawings, designs, musical
instruments, memorabilia, archive material and signed manuscripts. A wealth of material is also contained in the specialised
music and entertainment library, and the photograph and media libraries.
The same building also houses the Civic Museum of Homeland History,
which conserves documents, relics, paintings and prints telling of
In Piazza Oberdan is the Museum of the Risorgimento,
housed in a purpose-built construction designed by Umberto Nordio in
1934 and decorated with frescoes by Carlo Sbisà. It displays documents,
photographs, uniforms, memorabilia and paintings related to the events
and people who shaped the local Risorgimento, from the upheavals of
1848 to the First World War. On the building's exterior is a memorial
chapel dedictaed to Guglielmo Oberdan (a Triestine patriot hanged for
an attempt on the life of Emperor Franz Josef in 1882) with a martyr's
cell and a monument sculpted by Attilio Selva.
Commemorating the tragic events of the Second World War is the Risiera
di San Sabba, a rice-husking factory used after September 1943 as a prison, a transit camp for deportees destined for Germany and
depot for confiscated property and a detention and death campo of hostages,
partisans, political prisoners and Jews. On April 4th 1944 it
was fitted with a working gas oven. In 1965 the Risiera was declared a National Monument by Decree of the
President of the Republic and ten years later was rebuilt to a plan by
Romano Boico, so becoming the Civic Museum of the Risiera di San Sabba.
Also in the chain of city museums is the Diego de Henriquez Civic Museum of War for Peace,
based on the collection of the Triestine scholar (1909-1974) after whom
it is named. In addition to the ordnance and light arms on display is a
huge library and a military, civilian and cartographic archive. It also
has sections specialising in telecommunications, sound reproduction, seals,
philately, military uniforms and headgear, prints, pictures and
medals and a particularly broad-ranging photographic archive.
The recently opened Civic Museum of Oriental Art is the first in Friuli
Venezia Giulia specifically devoted to this subject. Its collections
and objects include Chinese and Japanese porcelain, a rich collection
of Japanese silographs, travel memoirs, weapons, musical instruments
and ethno-anthropological articles from all over the Asian continent, especially, China and
Also part of the Civic Museum network is the Mitteleuropa Post and Telegraph Museum,
opened in 1997 in the central Post Office building (designed by F. Setz). It displays records of the “postal culture” of the Region and
the neighbouring countries in the central European area.
The Hill of San Giusto
The city of Trieste is dominated by the Hill of San Giusto. The large
square in front of the Cathedral at the top of the hill was the centre
of its political, social and cultural life from protohistorical and
Roman times. Roman civic buildings nave left many and significant remains: the porticoed square of the Forum, of which only the
flagstones and two rows of cypresses remain, and the 2nd-century
rectangular colonnaded civil basilica, originally twostoreyed with two
apses facing each other, the northern one containing the Tribunal and
the southern the Curia.
Inside the belltower are other Roman remains
which have been indentified as belonging to a colonnaded construction
(80 A.D.) with two forebuildings and a central stairway which possibly
led into the main temple dedicated to the Capitoline Triad.
In the 5th century an early Christian basilica was built on the ruins
of this temple, and then replaced in the 9th and 12th centuries by two
parallel churches, which in the 14th century were joined to form what
we know as the Cathedral of San Giusto, patron saint of the city.
To the right of the Cathedral is the small 13th-century church of San
Michele al Carnale, alongside which is the entrance to the Civic Museum
of History and Art and the Stone Monument Garden.
The Cathedral square is distinguished by the 16th-century column which
since 1844 has benn surmounted by a melon and a halberd, the symbols of
Trieste, the bulk of the Altar to the 3rd Army (1929) and the imposing
First World War Memorial (1935, designed by A. Selva). On a broad green
slope below the summit of the hill the city's war dead are also
commemorated in the Park of Remembrance. San Giusto hill can be toured
by means of a circular route. Starting from Piazza della Cattedrale,
Via San Giusto and Via T. Grossi lead around the perimeter of the
Castle to the fountain belonging to the Scalinata dei Giganti (Giant's Staircase, designed by R. and A.
Berlam). To the left of this is the
Parco della Rimembranza, which leads to Via Capitolina and the top of
the hill, on which stands the Castle of San Giusto. The walkways on the
Castle walls provide splendid views of the whole of the city.
Religious Buildings and Worship
Anybody observing Trieste from the air will be struck by its rich
architectural fabric formed by red and brown roofs, high blue domes,
slender and soaring belltowers. On interpretation of Trieste is
suggested by the variety of styles, faiths and religions that have
marked the city since the beginning of its development. The Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox and Protestant faiths all have their own symbolic
buildings because it is here that their members have met, worked and
lived in harmony, manifesting, the city's multiethnic and multicultural
imprint made possible by the far-sighted political, economic and
religious policies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
proposed here starts from the original nucleus of the city at the
Cathedral of San Giusto and proceeds down the Capitoline Hill to the
medieval Church of San Silvestro. From there, passing by the Roman
amphitheatre and through Piazza dell'Unità, it reaches the seafront and
the churches of San Nicolò, San Spiridione and Sant'Antonio Nuovo. Its
final leg includes the Lutheran Evangelical Church and concludes with
the Synagogue in Piazza Giotti.
The waterfront of Trieste stands as an imaginary interface between the
Mediterranean and Mitteleuropa. To a visitor arriving from the scenic
road, it provides a backdrop for an entry to the city whose visual
impact reflects the peculiar identity of a place on the cusp between
the Mediterranean and central Europe.
The predominant colours are those produced by the fusion of the
grey-blue of the buildings and the orange of the timeless sunsets that
have so often benn at work through the palettes of local artists.
The waterfront is a showpiece for the architectural and urbanistic
factors the define the style of the city as it has developed over time,
and represents the fulcrum of the creativity of a present-day
development paln which sets out to reinterpret the urban fabric with a
view to the city's future prospects.
The prominent buildings in Piazza della Libertà are the neo-Greek
Palazzo Economo (designed by Scalmanini), housing the Superintendency
of Fine Arts with the Gallery of Ancient Art
on the second floor, and the neo-Renaissance Trieste Central railway
station (Flattich, 1878), distinguished by the broad and
well-proportioned dimensions of its entrance hall. On the seaward side
of the square is the entrance to the Old Port, a kind of city within
the city, which is now being redesigned for a thoroughgoing conversion.
Leaving the square along Corso Cavour, No.13 on the left is the
building of the Banca d'Italia.
Adjacent to that is the Head Office of Assicurazioni Generali (1886,
designed by Geiringer Zabeo) which, together with RAS, is one of the city's big international insurance
companies. A few steps further on is
the brick building known as the Red Skyscraper, (1926-1928) designed by
A. Berlam. American influences predominate over European themes in this
building; it stands as a sort of unfinished skyscraper with the
fascination of work in progress. Opposite, on the seaward side, is the
old seaplane dock (designed by R. Pollack, 1931), bearing witness to
the desire of the time to reinvent Trieste as a modern city by means of
a link between maritime and air transport.
Like many constructins of its time, it combines rationalist criteria
with Classically-based decorations (exemplified by the telamon and
caryatid surmounting the portal), achieving a strking affect.
Proceeding away from the station, on the left is the area occupied by
the Canale Grande, which used to reach inland as far as the Church of
Sant'Antonio Taumaturgo (Sant'Antonio Nuovo) and allowed the docking of
ships full of cargo from the Orient. It is no coincidence that by the
entrance to the canal stands the refined shape of Palazzo Carciotti
(designed by M. Pertsch, 1802), which was at home, offices and
warehouse of the Greek merchant after which it is named. The beauty of
this building lies not only in its proportions but above all, like many
examples of local architecture, in its facade, whose ashlared socle
supports six grooved lonic columns surmounted by a balcony the same
number of statues. At the summit of the building is a copper dome with
an eagle. The entrance hall is embellished with statues by Antonio Bosa
and the hall on the piano nobile displys works by G.B. Bison.
Further along on the left is the old Hotel de la Ville (designed by G.
Degasperi, 1839), for decades the city's most important hotel, the
Greek Orthodox Church of San Nicolò (1787, facade by M. Pertsch, 1821)
and the Caffè Tommaseo. These three buildings are redolent of a
cosmopolitan 19th-century Trieste in which trade was rapidly into
wealth which allowed the satisfaction of a number of appetites, from
the modern to the strictly cultural.
This mixture was symbolised by Trieste's coffee
houses, of which there was a great many. They were
venues for meeting, reading and talking.
In a way, they were an indoor equivalent both to the city squares, a
place where the community could express itself on everyday issues, and
what would now be termed a “virtual square” - they were the forerunners
of the Internet and on-line communication.
A few steps further along on the landward side of the waterfront is the
building housing the Giuseppe Verdi Opera Theatre, opened on April 21st
1801. Its sober neo-Classical facade, designed by Pertsch, recalls Milan's La Scala, designed by
Pertsch's teacher Piermarini. The
interior is the work of Gianantonio Selva, who also designed the Fenice
theatre in Venice.
Excellent acoustics have always been a distinctive feature of the
theatre for which Verdi wrote Stiffelio. An inscription on the former
Hotel de la Ville records that Verdi stayed in Trieste for that express purpose.
The Verdi theatre has recently benn given a thoroughgoing restructuring
by the architect Dino Tamburini.
Between 1999 and 2001 Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia was transformed by
French architect Bernard Huet with a sensitivy rooted in his love for
Enlightenment-inspired neo-Classical culture. This feeling gave him a
particular insight into the culture which as early as 1870 saw the
Piazza radically redesigned by architect Giuseppe Bruni. Linking the
Borgo Giuseppino with the Borgo Teresiano, Piazza Unità is
distinguished by its great size, the fact that it opens into the sea
and the eclectic series of buildings on its three sides. Facing the sea
is the City Hall (G. Bruni, 1875), displaying Renaissance, mannerist
and Baroque themes. On the left (to somebody facing inland) is
Government House (E. Hartmann, 1905) with its gilded mosaic wall decorations, the severely monumental Palazzo Stratti (A.
1839) and Palazzo Modello, another work by Bruni.
the right is the imposing building formerly the head office of Lloyd
Triestino and now the seat of the Regional government of Friuli Venezia
Giulia. Its Austrian architect, Heinrich von Ferstel (1883) decided on
a Renasisance design. Worthy of note are the fountains decorated with
statues by Giuseppe Pokorny and Ugo Hardtl – at night the square is
bathed in their reflected fllodlighting. On the same side is the
tasteful and eclectic former Palazzo Vanoli (1873), now Gran Hotel
Duchi d'Aosta, and Classically influenced Palazzo Pitteri (U. Moro,
1780), the only building still to have survived the 1870 reworking.
Stretching into the sea shortly before Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia is
the Molo Audace. A walk to the end of this pier provides a fine view of
many of the buildings lining the waterfront.
Beyond Piazza Unità is the massive Savoia Excelsior Hotel (L. Fiedler,
1912), taking the form of a majestic jewel casket redolent of the
extravagant days of the “white ship” hotels. Opposite, on the seaward side, is the Stazione Marittima, designed
(1928) by Giacomo Zammatio and Umberto Nordio; the latter was a local
architect known for his combination of functionalism with the modernist idiom.
The seaward side beyond the Stazione Marittima narrows down at the
level of the old Fish Market (1913, designed by Polli), shortly to be
reopened as a multi-functional exhibition centre. The building combines
functional requirements with an imaginative Art Nouveau design
dominated by steel and concrete.
Opposite this one the landward side is a row of tidy
neo-Classical-style buildings used mostly for residential accomodation.
They include houses by Valentino Valle, Buttazzoni's Palazzo Vucetich
and the Sartorio houses by Degasperi and Pertsch (see the view of the
Among the many streets running at right angles to the waterfront
between Piazza dell'unità d'Italia and the charming Piazza Venezia is
the shady retreat of Piazza Hortis. One building on this square is home
to three institutes: the Attilio Hortis Civic Library, containing no
fewer than 400.000 documents, used daily as a workplace by Italo Svevo,
the Svevo Museum and the Civic Museum of Natural History.
On the waterfront at Riva Grumula No.4 is the Casa Stabile, designed by
Max Fabiani in quintessential Viennese Jugendstil; an outstanding
feature is the curved windowed balcony on the corner. Opposite is one
of Italy's oldest sailing clubs, the Yacht Club Adriatico, adjacent to
two other clubs, the Società Triestina della Vela and the Marina San
To the left is the Lazzaretto San Carlo (also known as the Lazzaretto
Vecchio – Old Lazar House), now housing the Museum of the Sea, and at
the junction with Riva Traiana stands the Campo Marzio railway station
(R. Seelig, 1907), an elegant Art Nouveau construction with an oriental
air. Opposite are the crowded moorings of the Sacchetta Marina.
Nearby are the Ausonia and Lanterna bathing establishments. The former
is an example of the facilities built in the 1920s and 30s to
popularise the practice of sport, and the latter is distinguished by
rules imposing a rigid separation between male and female patrons.
The area of La Sacchetta is demarcated by the Venezia, Sartorio and
Fratelli Bandiera piers, of which the last is distinguished by a
splendid specimen of neo-Classical purism – the Vecchia Lanterna
The Revoltella Museum
The Revoltella Museum is
a major art gallery brought into being by the development of an
institute founded in 1872 at the behest of Baron Pasquale Revoltella
(1795-1869), who left his home and art collection to the city of
Trieste in his Will.
Together with the building and its contents, he endowed the museum with
a substantial income which enabled his legacy to be built up as the
years passed, thus producing a noteworthy art collection in a
relatively short time. By the end of the 19th century is comprised the
work of celebrated Italian painters such as Hayez, Morelli, Favretto,
Nono and Palizzi, in addition to that of many foreign artists.
Over the last century the Museum has enjoyed further development,
becoming a cultural institution of ever-increasing prestige and a major
reference point for modern and contemporary art. Not only does it boast
the biggest names in 20th-century Italian art, including Casorati, Sironi,
Carrà, Morandi, De Chirico, Manzù, Marini, Fontana and Burri,
it has staged a series of exhibitions whose top-level academic content
has made a significant contribution to enhancing appreciation of the
art of the last two centuries.
The Museum has also been able to axpand through the purchase of the
nearby Palazzo Brunner, which was thoroughly restructured between 1968
and 1991 (the realisation of Carlo Scarpa's design underwent several
suspensions) to give it new facilities for the exhibition of modern
art. The Revoltella now occupies a huge complex of three buildings
making up an entire block bounded by Piazza Venezia, Via Diaz, Via
Cadorna and Via San Giorgio. The third building – Palazzina Basevi,
whose entrance is on Via San Giorgio – houses the Museum's management
and administrative offices.
Palazzo Revoltella, built in 1858 to a design by Friedrich Hitzig and
lived in by Pasquale Revoltella until his death in 1869, has three
floors joined by a huge spiral staircase, and conserves almost all the
original furnishings and works of the Revoltella collection. The second
floor gives access to the gallery of modern art, which displays a
selection of over 200 19th- and 20th-century paintings.
The City of Science
Modern-day Trieste may be said to be a fullblown scientific capital. In
the period following the Second World War a concerted effort was made
to launch the city as an important centre for the production of
scientific knowledge for the benefit of developing countries but also,
and significantly, the countries of central and eastern Europe.
Starting from the premise that the most advanced science was essential
to bring the Third World out of underdevelopment, in 1964 the
International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) was founded under
the directorship of Professor Abdus Salam, a Pakistani who 15 years
later was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics. The Centre is supported
by two UN agencies, the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNESCO,
but the bulk of its financing is provided by the Italian government. It
has contributed to the advanced training of about 60.000 scientists,
most of whom are from developing countries. Subsequent years saw the
foundation of the International High School for Advanced Studies
(Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati – SISSA), providing
Englishtaught doctorate courses with an international staff and student
body which has earned itself a reputation for scientific excellence.
The great strides made in molecular genetics in the 1970s led to the
idea of establishing a centre of excellence for research and training
in genetic engineering and biotechnology with the aim of tackling the
main problems besetting the Third World (food, health and economic development).
The International Centre of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) thus came into being in 1987. It is an autonomous international
body whose head office and one of two laboratories are in Trieste (the
other laboratory is in New Delhi). This centre, also financed mainly by
the Italian government, plays host to 150 researchers and is another
body to have earned a reputation for the quality of its scintific work.
In the same years the Italian government also decided on Trieste as the
location for a new national Synchrotron Light Laboratory dedicated to
the production ox X-rays for the study of material structures and biomolecules. The founder and first President of
ELETTRA, as it is now called, was Professor Carlo Rubbia, who also won a Nobel Prize for
Physics in that period. Together with the ICGEB and a range of other
research bodies, ELETTRA is located in the AREA Science Park, the
biggest facility of its kind in Italy.
The local scientific panorama is completed by a range of
long-established such as the University, the Astronomical Observatory
of the National Institute of Astrophysics, the National Institute and
Experimental Geophysics, the National Research Council Institute of
Marine Science, the Marine Biology Laboratory and the interactive
museum facility named Science Centre – Immaginario Scientifico.
This complex of research institutions, some of which enojy great
international standing, give Trieste the well-earned reputation as a
capital of science.
From the eastern end of the Coast Road into Trieste the eye is drawn to the tip of a headland on which stands the Castle of Miramare.
The Castle and its gardens were built at the behest of Archduke
Maximilian of Habsburg, brother of Emperor Franz Josef. Born in Vienna
in 1832, Maximilian came to Trieste for the first time in 1850. Four
years later, appointed Rear Admiral in the Austro-Hungarian Navy, he
decided to settle in the city. He decided on the promontory of Miramare
as the site for his residence and appointed Carl Junker to take charge
of the construction of a castle there (1856), giving him detailed
instructions as to its design. It was built on eclectic lines: medieval
influences are evident in its rounded arches, alongside neo-Gothic
themes visible in a number of peaked arch features. With his young wife
Charlotte of Belgium, Maximilian took up residence in the Castle in
1860. Four years later the couple set sail for Mexico, whose throne had
been offered to Maximilian in an attempt to end the civil war that was
raging in the country.
The enterprise met a tragic end, however, when
he was captured and shot at Quèretaro in 1867. Charlotte, who had
returned to Miramare a few months earlier, was so devastated by the
news that the balance of her mind was disturbed. She withdrew to the
Castelletto in the Castle gardens and then moved back to Belgium, where
she eventually died in 1927. The couple lived in the Castle for just
The ground floor is given over to the imperial couple's apartments. The
interior, completed in 1860, reflects the fashion of the time as
expressed by designers Franz and Julius Hofmann in the execution of
their patron's wishes.
The tour begins with Maximilian's bedroom, known as the cabin, and the
Novara study, which reproduce the design of shipboard cabins in the
Austrian Navy. The last room in his apartment is the library, some of
whose 7.000 volumes are on display to the public – the rest are in storage.
This is followed by the apartment used by Charlotte, who is depicted in
a portrait by Jean Portaels (1857) hanging in the turret room. Also on
display there is the piano on which she would play. After the bedroom
and dressing room is a room exhibiting pairs of water-colours
illustrating the building of the Castle and photographs taken from Maximilian's album. The Chapel and the Wind Rose Room conclude the tour
of the ground floor, which was the only one lived in by the couple.
The staircase of honour, whose view of the Gulf of Trieste encompasses
part of Trieste and Duino, leads to the first floor with a number of
rooms restructured in the 1930s accomodate Duke Amedeo d'Aosta and his
family. Furnished in rationalist style, the rooms have been preserved
with their original contents.
Given over to guests staying at the Castle, the first floor was
completed in about 1870 and designed in the neo-Renaissance and
neo-Baroque styles fashionable at the time of the Second Empire. From
the landing begins a series of reception rooms, including the Sovereigns'Room, the Audience Room, the Oriental
Salons, the Historic
Room and the Throne Room.
The view from the driveway in front of the Castle gives and idea of the
extent of the gardens, which cover no fewer than 22 hectares. One of
Maximilian's aims in purchasing the promontory was to turn its rocky
Carso terrain into a green area.
Various improvement schemes have turned the site into a garden rich in
rare and exotic plants and trees. It also has a number of buildings
with a variety of functions. At the main entrance are the Stables, now
used for exhibitions; near the Grignano exit is the Castelletto, lived
in by Charlotte after 1866 and now the Visitor's Centre of the Miramare
Marine Nature Reserve.
Trieste's cuisine is closely tied to its history. Like all forms of
culture, its gastronomic culture is the product of the combitnation of
the traditions brought by the nationalities that have contributed to
the formation of the city's social fabric since the 18th century.
Despite Trieste's development from a village to a great trading centre,
all these influences continue to coexist as distinct features of the
local cuisine. A clear distinction can be drawn between the maritime
cuisine of Istrian and Venetian origin and that of the hinterland, from
the Slav and Austro-Hungarian tradition.
Both culinary traditions are rather basic, but can boast this
simplicity as one of their biggest strenghts.
The local maritime cuisine revolves above all around the quality of the
fish and simple cooking methods which bring its taste to the fore. The
main attractions of the fish restaurants and trattorias, especially
those on the waterfront, are seafood startes and risottos, shellfish salads, crab
salds, adn the best Istrian fish baked or grilled. Special
mention should be made of the many small fish native to the Mediterranean, particularly sardines (of various
sizes), for which a
festival is held every August with tons of sardines - fried, in
breadcrumbs or as rollmops - being served from kiosks on the seafront.
But just a few kilometres inland, on the plateau of the Carso, lies a
culinary world which is completely different, one which first courses
reign supreme – potato, bread and plum gnocchi (dumplings), pasticcio
and crespelle (filled pasta envelopes), potato and spinach rolls, all
is substantial roast meat, goulash and game sauces. One dish that must
be tried is jota – a thick soup made from sauerkraut, potatoes and beans. Its distinctive taste means that most people either love it or
The influence of the Habsburg reign in these dishes is obvious – as the
the Empire, Trieste had no choice bu to supplement its menus with Hungarian,
Czech, Austrian and Slav dishes, amalgamating the foods and
flavours of central Europe with those of the Balkans.
These flavours are also found in local bakeries: apple or ricotta
strudel and palacinke (sweet crespelle filled with jam or nut paste)
appear in almost menus, presnitz (a fusion ofpuff-pastry and currants, raisins, chocolate and
liqueur) is a permanent fixture at Christmas and Easter, while fave (soft almond
sweetcakes) and Easter pinza (sweet
leavened spongecake) are of Venetian origin.
No culinary exploration of Trieste would be complete without a trip to
what is considered one of the city's emblems – a buffet. As soons as
you walk in you are enveloped by the intense smell of sauerkraut, the
natural companion for Vienna sausage, fat sausage, spiced sausage,
boiled pork, tongue, belly of pork – no part of a pig is left out of
the “boiler”, slowly cooking before being served piping hot with grated
horse-radish. But pride of place in any self-respecting buffet goes to
hot baked ham – lean leg of pork on the bone, kneaded to softness,
cooked for up to 12 hours and served hot in a bread roll or on its own
as a snack.
Many buffets have made a name for themeselves over the years, in some cases supplanting coffee houses as a place to mett and
talk business and politics.
As far as wine is concerned, a wide range of renowned names from Friuli
and the nearby Collio area are readily available, but great efforts are
being expended to develop two local wines – Terrano, a sharp, vigorous
red ideally suited to Carso cuisine and praised by the Romans, and
Malvasia Istriana, a dry, light and slightly aromatic white originating
from ancient Greece. And a selective growing procedure has recently
been started on Vitovska, an indigenous strain with a highly promising
Thanks Agenzia di Informazione e di Accoglienza Turistica di Trieste for texts
kindly permit and for some of published photos.
The other photos, made by Ufficio Immagini, are published by kindly permit of
Archivio Generale of Comune di
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