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Trovare Trieste

December 22, 2010

I lived in Trieste, Italy for one year while I was an art teacher.  Trieste is an amazing city, with the sea and the mountains, lots of culture, diverse local cuisine, and the borders of Slovenia and Croatia just fifteen and thirty minutes away respectively.  It is the home of Illy coffee, the birthplace of Missoni, and the city where James Joyce was teaching English when he began writing Ulysses.  Trieste has charmed countless intellectuals, artists, and the most Olympic athletes of any city in Italy.   My husband and I love it! Here is part 1, for a more comprehensive guide be sure to read Trieste II and Trieste III as well.

Trieste is worth the 2 hour train detour or 1 hour drive from Venice.  In fact, the train ride is worth it for the views alone, which are breathtaking and dreamlike.  I can never forget the image of the land to the southeast side (right) of the train suddenly opening up to reveal the glistening blue Adriatic Sea and the seaport city of Trieste in the distance.

Trieste is exponentially more enjoyable and accessible when you know a local, or have the inside information for where to go and where to stay.  This I will give you right now!

We arrived at Trieste’s airport and took the 20-minute bus ride to the city.  At the airport just ask where is the bus to Trieste Centrale (the Trieste train station).  The bus stop is right outside the terminal door.  Make sure you buy your bus ticket from the little machine outside the terminal first, and then always validate your ticket the moment you get on the bus.  You do this by inserting it into the little mouth of a boxy machine on the poles inside the bus until you hear a stamping sound. Always keep your ticket until you’ve arrived at your destination, since you are occasionally asked to show it to an officer and if you don’t show it you must pay a fine.

Once you arrive at the train station, walk along the seaside, with the sea on your right, to Piazza Unita.  You will know when you’ve arrived at this square because it is a grand square, open to the sea, with pillared Hapsburg buildings on three sides.  Piazza Unita is the only main square of any Italian city to open to the sea.  You should definitely stay in or near Piazza Unita.

The Hotel Duchi D’Aosta or Hotel Savoia Excelsior Palace are both great options. They are both very beautiful, regal, and elegant. You feel like you’ve not only been transported to another country, but to another era: silk ceilings, marble bathrooms, crown moldings.  But fear not, only the visage is formal: underneath Trieste is artistic, experimental, cutting edge, and utterly unique.

More to come tomorrow . . .

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