If you are planning to tour Europe, you should consider the Friuli-Venezia Giuli region of northeastern Italy, bordering on Austria and Slovenia. For simplicity’s sake we abbreviate the region’s full name to Friuli. This lovely region may be an ideal vacation spot. You can get classic Italian food and other specialties, and wash it all down with fine local wine. While Friuli is by no means undiscovered by tourists you usually won’t be fighting crowds to see what you want. Like most regions of Italy, it has belonged to many nations over the years. The region remains multicultural, an exceptional mixture of Italian, Austrian, and Slavic influences. This article explores Trieste, Friuli’s capital. A companion article examines several other attractions in this beautiful region.
Trieste, with a population of about two hundred thousand, is the region’s largest city. Trieste was definitely part and parcel of Mittleleuropa (Central Europe) as the major port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Trieste only joined Italy in 1954. One can easily imagine that with such a unique history Trieste is quite a unique place to visit. It is.
As soon as you arrive in Trieste you’ll notice its ubiquitous coffee houses. Among the best known is the Antico Caffe San Marco. As befits its internationality, Trieste is home to a variety of historic religious buildings representing many faiths. The Serbian-Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity and Saint Spyridion, which was built in the mid-Nineteenth Century shows a strong Byzantine influence. Go inside for a look at its beautiful frescoes and icons. The Israelite Temple of Trieste, just over a century old, is Italy’s largest synagogue. The Trieste Cathedral dedicated to the city’s patron saint, San Guisto (Saint Justus) who was martyred at the beginning of the Fourth Century, was initially built in the Sixth Century on Roman ruins. It is adjacent to a castle of the same name. Walk on its ramparts for an excellent view of the city and its surroundings. There is no shortage of other churches and museums to visit.
The Gratta Gigante (Giant Cave) located some 9 miles (15 kilometers) north of Trieste is the biggest tourist cave in the world. Its main room is over 160 feet (100 meters) high, almost three times as long, and about 100 feet (65 meters) wide. It’s large enough to contain Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, the largest religious building in the world.
What about food? Trieste cuisine is definitely international. Its foreign influences include Hungary for meat and fish goulash, Austria for coffee and a wide variety of pastries, Yugoslavia for grilled meat, and Germany for wurst and sauerkraut. There are many local Italian specialties such as potato, bread and plum gnocchi (dumplings), pasticcio and crespelle (filled pasta envelopes), potato and spinach rolls. And you will want to check out the fine Friuli wines.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine French or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His major wine website is http://www.theworldwidewine.com which links to his other web sites.
Where to stay in Trieste
Hotels, B&Bs, condo hotels and apartments are available for reservation here.