Felice Anno Nuovo! Happy New Year! 🙂
Welcome to Italophilia in 2016. Let’s start the year with a post about my favorite city- Trieste.
Italy’s caffeine capital, Trieste, has an unmistakable charm. No wonder it attracted so many writers and thinkers. One of them was the notable Irish writer James Joyce.
Joyce lived in Trieste for more than a decade from 1904 till 1915. Trieste was a city that stole his soul. Several alleys, hotels, museums and old fashioned coffee houses now dedicate themselves to Joyce and his time in the city. It is a wonderful feeling being in the centre of it.
Joyce frequented Caffe` San Marco, Il Caffe`degli Specchi, Caffe`Pirona and several others along with Teatro Verdi and the church of San Nicolo. He, along with his poet friends Umberto Saba and Italo Svevo, were part of the city’s literary drama and cult following.
I found myself standing next to Joyce’s calm and smiling statue in the Grand Canal in Trieste. Later just to get a more feel to the entire city I followed his footsteps and had coffee in Caffe` San Marco followed by a visit to Piazza Unita`d’Italia.
Having coffee with the ghosts of the literary past was memorable. I could see literature all around me and it was dreamlike. Trieste is and always will be special. Only those who have been here know how unique it is. With the mountains and the mighty Adriatic around, Trieste is an altogether different Italy. Have you been there?
My first experience with Airbnb was in Trieste this year. I knew that it was in “vogue” to book through Airbnb because it offered plenty of pretty and quirky homes to strangers, very different from the usual hostels and hotels.
So while hunting for a room in central Trieste, I found this lovely Airbnb room which was only a 5 minutes walk from Piazza unita d’Italia. The reviews of the place were just fabulous so there was no room for doubt and the place looked great from the pictures.
I was only a little skeptical because it was my first booking on Airbnb and I wanted to be 100% sure about the decision of staying in someone else’s house. To understand the procedure a little better (and to increase my faith in Airbnb) I went online to read more reviews of different places that Airbnb offered- some in Italy, some in other parts of the world. I was pretty satisfied at the end as it seemed like the option to take.
The Trieste room was booked and I hoped all would go well.
As it turns out, it went GREAT!
My Airbnb room was exactly the same as in the pictures. I absolutely loved the place as the room was very pretty and clean. With a large window to the narrow street downstairs, free Wifi and fruit and coffee on the table, I was delighted. I was given an extra key of the house to enter and exit as and when I wished. My room was blue and so lovely I didn’t want to go out 😛
The breakfast was in a cute cozy kitchen right next to my room. There were all the amenities in the kitchen in case I needed to warm my food or have a cup of coffee. Best part about staying was that I was only 5 minutes from the main piazza and 10 minutes away from the Train station. It was fun being in the centre of everything and yet in a quiet street.
The hosts– Daniele and her husband were very kind and warm. Though Daniele was unwell when I visited, I was in touch with her husband who was very sweet and took care of every need despite having to worry about Daniele’s health problem. Every day he asked me what time I would like to have breakfast. He made sure I got my fair share of privacy when I came back to my room in the evening. It was a very pleasant experience staying in this house knowing that Daniele and her husband were across the hall in their flat for any emergency or issues.
Did I tell you every room in the house is named after one of Daniele and her husband’s female relative?? Isn’t that a lovely idea. My room was named Beatrice if am not mistaken!
I’d totally recommend you to book this bnb if you head to Trieste. I also loved the entire concept of staying at a local’s place. I think Airbnb is doing a fantastic job of showing such homes to us and I will definitely book again through them.
Have you tried Airbnb?? How was your experience??
P.S.- this osteria is just below Daniele’s lovely house.
Every month I, along with my #ItalianFWT Group (Food, Wine & travel) virtually explore a different region of Italy.
This month we are heading to the far east corner of the country to see and know the delights of the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Bordering the countries of Slovenia and Austria, the region of Friuli is often overlooked by travelers. I wonder why. It is beautiful with a deep history.
Let me take you to Castello di Miramare, situated near Trieste– the capital of Friuli.
Overlooking the stark waters of the Adriatic, Castello di Miramare (Castle of Miramare) is at the edge of a cliff and is really a sight to behold. Just a mere 15 minutes from Trieste, this magnificent white castle can be reached by Bus 36 from Trieste.
Castello di Miramare was built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilan in 1860 for his wife, Charlotte of Belgium. It has 20 odd rooms with brilliant upholstery and elegant furniture (pictures not allowed). With an entry of EUR 6 (for the castle not the grounds they are free), you can visualize how the Archduke and his wife stayed away from the hustle and bustle of the affairs in this secluded castle. I loved exploring the castle grounds with its small ponds, rare plants and bubbling fountains. How grand must it be in the 19th century!
Like many historic places, Miramare has a tragedy attached to it. The Archduke died at an early age of 34 and it is said that after his death Charlotte went insane and spent her days in the castle pining for her lost love. Many people believe that spending a night in this castle of 20 odd rooms could lead to a person’s death, so as to say that the castle is cursed. Miramare may have a tragedy attached but it is gorgeous and it is absolutely safe to spend the day here 🙂
Miramare has a beautiful backdrop with nothing but an expanse of Adriatic and views of Trieste. What a picture the Archduke had in mind while building this beauty!
Here are the rest of my fellow bloggers featuring Friuli:
Vino Travels – Pignolo and Schioppettino and Picolit, oh my!
While in Trieste, I had a chance to enjoy a leisure ride on its famous Opicina Tramway- a Tram+Funicular Railway that links the city to Villa Opicina or Opicina. Started in 1902, the historic tram runs from Piazza Oberdan to Opicina, a hill top town 5 km away.
I bought my ticket at the tabacchi- a tobacco shop where you can purchase bus/tram tickets. #OnlyInItaly
It was a slow ride from the city centre to the top, crossing the city’s houses that seem from a bygone era. A steep stretch and the tram halted, the tyres screeched.
I asked a lady sitting next to me why we halted. Luckily she knew English and told me the tram is getting pushed uphill and at the same time held back hill to change tracks (tram to furnicular track). She told me she was from nearby Slovenia and regularly took this tram. It was nice to have her company 🙂
We chatted about Italy and mostly about Trieste. As the tram turned a corner, she told me to go to the other side at the window to see the view.
I was blown away!
Trieste was unbelievably gorgeous and striking and I am so glad it was a sunny day. The 15 minutes ride to the top gave enough time to wallow in the views which kept getting better and better. I got up at the last stop and walked towards The Obelisk from where I got to know I could see Trieste and its panoramic splendor.
I didn’t end up clicking a lot of pictures but here are a few shots that show the glory of the Port of Trieste with its minuscule red houses and expansive Bay.
Things to Note:
-One way cost of the tram is EUR 1.1.
-Tram runs from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
-Best time: early morning/late evening.
-Pack a picnic and chill at Obelisk.
Every year on the second Sunday in October a sailing regatta called the “Barcolana” takes place in the Gulf of Trieste in Trieste. People from across the globe come to visit and take part in this historic event. The Barcolana is a sailing race that happens on a 15 mile fixed route and is said to be the most stunning event on the Adriatic.
Its a proud moment for me as this regatta from yesterday has been featured in India’s leading newspaper- The Hindustan Times today 🙂 Someday I hope to witness this historic event!
As I write this post, I feel a mixture of emotions. It is soul-rending feeling not be in Italy but at the same time I feel happy to remember all the moments I spent this summer in Bel Paese.
This post is to all the people of Italy and beyond who were part of my travels, who helped me when I was in the country, who touched my life in some way. Strangers who smiled at me and made me feel safe in a foreign land, a special thank you to you.
I hope someday I get to become a part of someone’s blog post just like these people have become a part of mine. Grazie mille to the couple at the train station who made sure I reached Perugia safely and provided me numbers of taxis in case I missed my connecting train. I couldn’t have been in Perugia without your help and guidance.
I am grateful to the lady from Bologna who knew very little English but still helped me when I asked her the way.
Grazie to the people of Gubbio for helping me know more about Festa dei ceri. I am beaming thinking about the girl from Sicily who took a lovely picture of me amongst a horde of people in Gubbio. Thank you to the Baglioni Hotels for their love and support throughout my stay in Venice.
I am indebted to my lovely host at my B&B in Trieste who made sure that every morning I had warm breakfast and coffee.
Thanks to the man in the train who helped me with my luggage. I appreciate it. I loved the thoughtfulness of the woman who made sure I reached Orvieto safely. So sweet, cara.
I enjoyed munching chocolates with an Australian couple who shared their precious Perugina chocolates with me.
I smile when I think of the caffe owner in Florence who made my day when he sang a song.
Last but not the least, to all my lovely friends Margie, Victoria, Susan, Orna, Molly and Alexander whom I met for the first time in Italy but with whom I feel like I have a friendship of a lifetime. You guys are so important to me and I hope one day we all meet together.
Grazie mille, amici.. A presto!
Before I decided to explore Trieste, I read on its history and region to which it is the capital of- Friuli Venezia Giulia. Overlooking the Gulf of Trieste, Trieste borders Slovenia and Austria and has willingly adopted characteristics of both the countries. This lively city has changed hands of ruler-ship from the Austrians to the Hungarians and finally the Italians in just over a century!
|The Grand Canal|
Which is why Trieste to me felt foreign and more alluring, as if it was a part of another country. Trieste looked like a city in Austria, because of its similar architecture and many (including myself now) associate it with a city being “nowhere”.
As Jan Morris perfectly describes in her book Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere:
“Trieste is a highly subjective sort of place, and often inspires such fancies. People who have never been there generally don’t know where it is. Visitors tend to leave it puzzled and, when they get home, remember it with a vague sense of mystery.”
|Beautiful Pastel Hues|
Trieste is a city of dreams. It is charming, dignified and fashionable. The city bewitched and seduced me, I almost feel like it is a part of me and I am a part of it.
There is much to write about this beautiful port town that it seems unfair to include it all in one post.
|Piazza unita d’Italia at Dusk|
Stay tuned for more on Trieste and its cafe culture, literary tours, Friulano wine, seafood and coastal towns; not to forget the beautiful Miramare Castle for which it is so famous.
How to reach- Trieste is well connected by train and is only 1 hour 50 minutes by Venice and 4 hours 30 minutes by Milan. The nearest airport is just 15 minutes away. There are shuttle buses to the city from the airport.
Trieste makes a beautiful base to visit nearby countries such as Slovenia, Croatia and Austria. Is it on your list?
For more information on Trieste visit here.