|Trieste is the smallest province in Italy, and
perhaps also the most isolated. For evidence of this, simply take a look
at any map: it consists of a thin stretch of land which runs between the
sea and the upland plains which border the former Yugoslavia. This border
area is fraught with tensions, as the city has not yet learnt to coexist
peacefully with its foreign neighbours.
Surrounding the highly urbanised areas in the centre and the south, stands a veritable constellation of small towns and villages such as Sgonico, Monrupino, Duino, Basovizza and San Pelagio which are predominantly inhabited by the Slovenian-speaking minority. In recent years, these areas have witnessed the construction of a number of country cottages and villas of considerable market value.
The city's geographical isolation is reflected in its personality. It is at once lonely, mysterious, alluring, conservative, pensive, a little primitive, perennially tired and taciturn. It is chock full of banks (unlike other Italian administrative towns), but is nonetheless lacking in any great entrepreneurial spirit, unlike the nearby Friuili ' an industrious boom town. It is a fairly old city and a hotbed of science and the arts, a city which extends a friendly welcome to people of all nationalities. Until 1954, it was under U.S. military rule. It is a carefree city with a love for the finer things in life. What could be more pleasurable than a glass of wine, a walk around the Carso and a meal in a good restaurant? Just sit back and watch the frenetic pace of everday life grind slowly to a halt.
Trieste is a beautiful and extraordinary city, anchored to a past which it can not forget. It is constantly battered by the Bora - an icy and powerful north-easterly wind ' which is tolerated as an inevitable feature of life in Trieste.
Below, you will see that Trieste has been sub-divided into eleven zones (beginning with the most southerly) in order to make it easy for any visitor to get orientated ' geographically at least.
N.B. There is no metro service in Trieste, but there is a good bus service. However, if you are travelling to the Carso or any other suburban region, make sure you have consulted the bus timetable, or alternatively hire a car as after a certain time (and also in certain areas) buses become less frequent.
This is a small town (one of six) which lies around ten kilometres from the centre of Trieste. It is a seaside town with a strong fishing tradition, and was the last fortification before the state border. It has recently been completely restructured and contains features which are reminiscent of the istroveneto period. Take a walk through its narrow streets, past the fishing boats which are anchored in its beautiful port. The shops are small and relatively modest, but life here is still extremely pleasant. To get here by sea, you need simply set sail in the opposite direction to Venice.
Frenetic building work is now taking place where the glorious shipyards of San Rocco once stood. A giant tourist complex is being built; this will comprise of hundreds of moorings for boats, hotels, sports centres, restaurants and apartments. Accomodation bought here would be a shrewd investment.
The industrial region stretches out just beyond the town, but does not, in any way affect its tranquil atmosphere.
Val Rosandra lies to the east, somewhere between Muggia and Trieste. It is the most beautiful and evocative corner of the Carso and consists of the extraordinary valley which has been carved out by the Rosandra river. For those who live locally, this is an ideal place for spiritual retreats as well as for spending relaxing Sunday afternoons in the summer. It is an unmissable spot where you will be able to go on delightful walks and take in enchanting views.
Valmaura, Servola and Chiarbola are all in the immediate periphery of Trieste and are for the most part residential districts. Here, you will find the stadium, the new Palace of Sports and the Risiera di San Sabba which was the only Nazi concentration camp in Italy.
House prices here are considerably lower than anywhere else, but the area offers few amenities. However, it is only around ten or fifteen minutes away from the city centre. The Servola district ' which has unfortuntately been polluted by the pungent black smoke from the gigantic railway complex - is also nearby.
Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia andCittavecchia
This area consitutes the heart of Trieste. Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia is the largest seaside piazza in Europe. Right behind it stands the historic city centre which streches back to the hills upon which stand the castle and the San Giusto Cathedral.
It is here that you will find the Town Hall, Prefecture, Police Station, Chamber of Commerce, Stock Exchange and several cafés with historical significance, such as Tergesteo, Specchi and Tommaseo - a particular favourite with the locals.
A lesiurely stroll through this predominantly pedestrianised area will enable you to take in the various book and antique shops, the ancient Teatro Romano, the remains of the Forum, the priniciple museums and the narrow streets of the historic city centre. Behind the large piazza stands the beautiful Teatro Verdi. To live here is a luxury permitted only to a select few. The prinicple reason for this is that bicycles are virtually banned in Trieste. Navigating the numerous steep ascents and sheer drops along the city's streets will therefore exhaust all but the most hardy.
The old heart of Trieste stands by the sea, near the train station. In order to get here from the Piazza dell'Unità d'Italia, you would simply need to walk along the shore for a couple of hundred metres in the direction of Venice. This area is a little unwelcoming, and visiting at night is not recommended. It is often frequented by Slovenians and Croatians who come to buy discount clothing and merchandise from shops which are small, but always very busy. Recently, a number of commercial enterprises run by the immigrant Chinese community have been set up in the area. From here, you can visit the ancient, glorious port of Trieste.
Corso Italia, Barriera Vecchia, Via Battisti
This is the commercial heart of the city, situated around ten minutes from the sea. It is characterised by numerous office blocks, fashion boutiques, chaotic traffic and a frenetic pace. From Via Carducci, Via Milano and Via Battisti to Via Valdirivo and Via Fabio Severo (where you will find the Court of Law and the prison) ' you will waste precious time caught between traffic lights.
An exception is the Viale XX Settembre ' a beautiful tree-lined avenue which runs for several kilometres. Along here you will find over half of the cinemas in Trieste as well as a number of excellent ice cream parlours. At the bottom of this street, in the direction of Longera stands the Il Giulia shopping centre, behind which stands the Boschetto (or 'little wood'), an oasis of green in the middle of the city.
San Giacomo and San Vito
These two major districts are situated on the hills around San Giusto. San Giacomo is fairly self-contained ' it has its own shops, nightclubs and restaurants. It is highy valued by its inhabitants, despite perennial parking difficulties and the chaotic traffic. It is also home to the Burlo Garofolo Children's Hospital which is considered to be one of the best in Italy.
San Vito, on the other hand, is a typical residential district ' both quiet and sleepy. It is here that the headquarters of Lloyd Adriatico (the insurance giant) and Lloyd Triestino (historic local shipping company, recently acquired by a foreign multinational) can be found.
This area is typically residential and would be somewhat anonymous if it weren't for the presence of the Hippodrome and Trieste's small exhibition complex. It is on the periphery of the city, at the end of the Viale D'Annunzio. Traffic poses relatively few problems here.
To get to this beautiful residential district you would have to first ascend the Via Coroneo and then the Via Fabio Severo. Here you will find most of the faculties and departments which make up the university. Shops are few and far between.
Barcola, Miramare, Sistiana, Grignano and Duino
These small towns lie outside the city, along the coastal road which leads to Venice. The panoramic views here are unsurpassed ' the local residents are fortunate indeed.
Barcola is only a walk away from Trieste and is home to the Castello di Miramare which was the magnificent residence of Maximillian of Hapsburg ' a symbolic figure in the history of Trieste.
Then there are Grrigniano, Sistiana and Duino (at the northernmost tip of the province) ' three enchanting little towns which stand between the sea and the upland plains. Visit these for elegant bars, fashionable restaurants, delicious seafood and enchanting walks. A word of warning: take care when driving along the coastal road (the principle means of entry into the city). It is narrow and dangerous, so make sure you respect the low speed limits which have been put in place to reduce the risk of accidents.
Opicino and the upland plains
Just behind Trieste stands the Carso - beautiful countryside consisting of woods, clearings, moors, canyons, valleys, and rocks piled high above the sea. It is an area which local residents hold especially dear, with its small, but characteristic towns and villages, its restaurants, farms, cycle paths and walls to climb. Situated around twenty five minutes from the city centre, it is an area which lies very close to the border and which is therefore home to the majority of Italy's Slovenian community.
There are hundreds of places which are worth a visit in this area, including the imposing Faro della Vittoria, the Passeggiata Napoleonica and the Tempio Mariano.
Opicina itself is the largest of the villages on the upland plains. It is fairly self-contained and well worth a visit.
Finally, there is Padriciano which you reach by turning off at the last exit on the motorway. Here you will find the Area di Ricerca which is one of the largest science and technology parks in Europe. It is here that the Elettra - a synchroton light source ' is being developed.