What to See when Spending a Day in Trieste, Italy

 

The Rain in Trieste falls mainly on our campsite

By the time we arrived in Trieste, it was early evening after our drive from Bologna via Campo PG 57.  Our home for the next 3 nights was to be Campeggio Obelisco sitting high on the hill overlooking Trieste. The plan was to sleep the night in our little tent, this was part of the deal in getting our car – we had to save money on accommodation.  The temperature had been slowly dropping as we were driving. So, it was no surprise that soon after our arrival, the heavens opened along with cracking thunder and lightning.

We abandoned the idea of sleeping in the tent and negotiated with the camp owner for a space to park the car so we could sleep in it.  It was to be our first time sleeping in our new (well, new to us) BMW 320d station wagon.

Luckily the campground had a bar/restaurant with wifi, so we headed in there to keep dry, have a drink and wait for the rain to stop. We would then rearrange our car to make a bed in the back.

Well, the rain would just not stop, so one beer became three and a meal.  We got chatting with a group of cyclists from the UK who were on a cycling holiday – they would be sleeping in their tent tonight!

After a few hours, it was clear the rain wasn’t going to stop so we made the call to sort our car while it was raining.  This was difficult as we had to hold an umbrella (well Maura did) while moving bags from the back to the front seat.  Eventually it was done, the camp beds inflated and we were in our hotel room for the night.

Here is a link to our YouTube clip of us in the car at night.

And one of us the next morning.

Surprisingly we had a good sleep despite the heavy rain and accompanying thunder and lightning, and awoke around 7am. The forecast for the next few days was for more of the same, so we decided to just have the one night in Trieste, cut our losses and head south into Croatia for better weather – or so we thought. Fortunately, no rain was forecast for the morning so we would take the opportunity to look around Trieste.

Opicina Tramway

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If you decide to stay in a hotel or Airbnb in the city, then make sure you take a ride on the electric tramway. You will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city.

Tip: The Obelisk stop has access to the suburb of Prosecco, a Slovenian name given to the wine.

Hillside view of Trieste harbour
The view over Trieste from our campsite

A Brief History of Trieste

Trieste is the capital city of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in northeast Italy. A port city, it occupies a thin strip of land between the Adriatic coast and Slovenia’s border.  Trieste became part of the Roman Empire between 52 and 46 BC under Julius Caesar. But it was Italy, Austro-Hungary and Slovenia to have all influenced the layout of the city, which has a population of just over 200,000. When you spend a day in Trieste you will see all of these aspects.

The Best of What to See when Spending a Day in Trieste, Italy

We drove down and parked our car in the port area near the Miela Theatre. We were early so there were plenty of parking spaces available, although it may be more difficult later in the morning. The cost per hour was under €2.

Grand Canale

The Grand Canale would have to be one of our favoutires places of Trieste. The canal links to the Gulf of Trieste, and is the perfect place for lots of small boats to park up, waiting for nice weather to go and explore the bay area.

If you wander alongside the canal you will come across the Ponte Rosso or Red Bridge. The original wooden bridge built in 1756 has been replaced with an iron structure in 1832.

It’s also here you will find a statue to celebrate the visit of James Joyce, the Irish writer who stayed in Trieste for 15 years (1904-1920).

Looking up the canal you will see an impressive structure with six columns at the front. This is Chiesa Parrocchiale S. Antonio Taumaturgo or the Church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo.  This building took nearly 25 years (1825-1849) to construct and was modelled on Rome’s Pantheon.

The view up the Grand Canale to the Church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo

Serb-Orthodox and Greek-Orthodox Churches

Just a little bit along from Saint Antonio is the Serb-Orthodox Temple of Holy Trinity and Saint Spyridon.  The Orthodox community in Trieste was established in 1748, this prompted the immigration of Serbian traders. In 1781, the community split into Greek-Orthodox and Serb-Orthodox.

Saint Spyridon Church is the Serb-Orthodox church of Trieste. Its domes can be seen from many points in the city and stands out when viewed from the San Giusto castle.

The domes of Saint Spyridon Church seen from the castle

Of course the Greek-Orthodox community have their own church and this is Saint Nicolò. The church is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, ship owners and all those involved in maritime trade, and to the Holy Trinity.

Saint Nicholas Greek-Orthodox church

Molo Audace Pier

The Molo Audace Pier is named after the destroyer Audace, the first ship of the Italian Navy to arrive in Trieste, on November 3, 1918. The 246m long Audace Pier extends from the city and separates the basin of San Giorgio from the basin of San Giusto of Porto Vecchio.

A view of the Molo Audace Pier
Molo Audace Pier, Trieste

Piazza Unita d’Italia

The Piazza Unita d’Italia is the largest square in Trieste, open to the Gulf of Trieste on one side, with the other three sides to prominent buildings such as the Town Hall of Trieste, The Palace of the Regional Junta of Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Prefecture of the Capital.

An impressive sight in the square is the Fountain of the Four Continents built between 1751 and 1754.  The fountain has four allegorical statues showing the features of the people who lived in the four continents, known at that time (Europe, Asia, Africa and America).

A view to the town hall in the Piazza Unita d'Italia, Trieste
Piazza Unita d’Italia, Trieste, Italy

Piazza della Borsa

The Chamber of Commerce Palace is the prominent building in this area formerly the commercial centre of Trieste.  It is best viewed while enjoying a coffee from one of the cafes in the area.

 

Roman Theatre

After your coffee and perhaps a piece of burek (a kind of flaky dough/pastry filled with meat, cheese or potato), turn right out of Piazza della Borso onto Corso Italia, then right again onto Via del Teatro Romano. Here you will find the Roman Theatre, built between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Concerts are still held here from time to time as it holds up to 3,500 people.

Roman Theatre of Trieste
The Roman Theatre of Trieste

Now the uphill trek starts (its not that bad). Look for Via di Donota on the left of the Roman Theatre as you look at it. This street curves up and around behind the theatre taking you past the Antiquarium di via Donota.

 

Trieste Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Giusto)

The uphill trek takes you up to San Giusto Hill where you will find Cattedrale di San Giusto, San Giusto castle and Roman ruins.

Cattedrale di San Giusto is the Cathedral of Trieste, completed in 1320. The church is a combination of two earlier churches from the 9th and 10th centuries previously on the same site. The beauty of the inside and outside, is a joining of Romanesque and Gothic.

There is an area of Roman ruins next to the church, a Roman forum was uncovered in the 1930s.

San Giusto Castle

In prehistoric times there was a fortified village on the site, which became an important urban centre during the Roman times.

San Giusto Castle on the hill of the same name, was built between 1471 and 1630 under the orders of Friedrich II of Habsburg.  The square tower and the two-storey building, which houses the Castle Museum, date back to this period. The views from different points inside the castle over the city are superb.

Heading down from the castle, two more churches are on the list of things to do in Trieste.

View of inner city buildings of Trieste from San Gusto Castle
View over the city of Trieste from San Giusto Castle

Santa Maria Maggiore

It’s not the first time we have seen two churches next to each other. Santa Maria Maggiore church built between 1627 and 1682 by the Jesuits is the larger of the two.

San Silvestro, built in the 12th century is the smaller Romanesque church, the oldest church in Trieste.

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As a reward for the climb up the hill and back down, treat yourself to an ice cream at Gelato Marco on Via Malcanton.  Marco’s gelato is full of flavour and very smooth. Or if you prefer a more adult beverage, then head back to the streets near the Piazza Unita d’Italia, such as Via Pozzo del Mare where there are several good cafes and bars.

Maura next to ice cream cone sign
Gelato Marco, Trieste Italy

We found Trieste to be a very interesting city, small enough to easily see all you need in one day. But large enough so spend a few days to absorb its incredible history, view its amazing architecture and visit its many museums. There’s enough museums to keep a history enthusiast busy for weeks.

Have you been to Trieste?

A great way to explore the city is to click through here to Walkili.com to download the city walk. This way you can prepare the best of what to see when spending a day in Trieste, Italy.

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The best of what to see when spending a day in Trieste, a travel destination with incredible history, amazing architecture and a piazza open to the sea.

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