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Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste, on a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia.
Trieste was a one night only stop on my Interrail journey, providing me with a chance to rest after leaving Slovenia. Despite multiple issues crossing the border from Pula, including wildfires, train cancellations, dodgy minibuses and “persuasion” tactics with border guards, I eventually made it in one piece to Trieste.
After a day of unknowns and everchanging possibilities, I found myself at a loss for accommodation by the time I was over the border. Booking Hotello at 9PM and arriving for 10PM is cutting it fine, even by my standards, but I chose well.
The hostel was clean, had large lockable storage, and comfortable bunkbeds. The only downside was that I had some noisy roommates, but you take that chance in any hostel. Thoroughly exhausted, I slept through the raucous antics, woke up before everyone else and showered in peace. The bathrooms were spacious, and the shower had enough room for me to bring my backpack in to the cubicle without it getting wet, meaning I didn’t need to venture back into the shared dorm.
Next, I made my way down to the restaurant, where I found myself presented with the most amazing pistachio croissant I’ve ever eaten. The torrential rain made me reluctant to leave so I drank a cappuccino and made conversation with the waitress. She kindly gave me some recommendations and I set off.
Once the haunt of prostitutes and dodgy dealers, as per most ports around the world, Trieste is now making its mark as a shopping destination. Perusing the shops as I wandered the empty streets in dismal weather, it was evident that Trieste offers a multitude of shopping opportunities. Flea markets, foodie stalls, art galleries, bookshops, clothing stores, and vintage boutiques; you are sure to find something to everyone’s taste!
The ancient canal, Borgo Teresiano, draws the eye to the neoclassical church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo. Even in the rain, there's a distinct charm to the area.
Piazza Unità d'Italia, the main square, has some beautiful buildings framing it. If it wasn’t for the weather, I would’ve spent longer taking pictures here. Random trivia; both Greenday and Iron Maiden held concerts here.
Down by the tranquil harbour, I was drawn to the statues. “Le Ragazze di Trieste”, keeping themselves occupied with sewing whilst they await the return of their men from war, “Years and centuries go by, and still women wait”.
Alongside them stands the “Monumento per la Liberazione”, a soldier holding a flag. A poignant tribute to the lives lost through war, these statues gave me cause for reflection as I stood next to the peaceful scene.
My favourite piece, Statua di Gabriele D'Annunzio, is a controversial figure. Known for being an Italian poet, novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, journalist, and military hero, he was also a protofascist political leader. All this unbeknown to me at the time, I simply admired the artistic feat in front of me, and how the artist had managed to render the mood in metal.
Stumbling upon good coffee in Italy is generally not difficult, but Trieste is renowned for its coffee loving culture. With 10kg of coffee consumed per person yearly, this is almost double the Italian average of 5.8kg. Caffè San Marco is a legendary coffee shop, having been serving customers for over 100 years.
I also loved the aesthetic in 040 Social . Brickwork, domed ceilings, and archways, this was a place where industrial met modern. The staff were wonderfully polite and attentive, resulting in me buying several coffees after the pastries.
Despite me not having much of an opportunity to explore (alas, my train to Mestre beckoned), I still really enjoyed Trieste. There were several fashion boutiques I’d like to revisit to refresh my wardrobe, though I think a trip to the art galleries would see me requiring extra baggage at the airport.
Give Trieste a chance if you can, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised. An ideal location for the border with Slovenia, a longer stay here could also be used to add Lake Bled or such like to your itinerary.