Trieste is a large port city on Italy’s northeastern coast, in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region. Trieste sits on a sliver of land jutting into Slovenia and Slovenian influence is evident in its architecture, food, and language. It was the only port in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and influences from that period are also evident.
Trieste is known for its large main square, Piazza Unita d’Italia, with one end opening to the sea. Stately 19th and early 20th century buildings line the other three sides, including the Palazzo del Governo and Palazzo del Municipio, or city hall. In the square is the Fountain of 4 Continents.
Things to See and Do in Trieste
- The Castle of San Giusto, built during the 15th – 17th centuries, sits at the top of a hill overlooking the city. Inside is a museum. From the square in front of the castle, you’ll have great views of the city and sea. Roman temple ruins can also be seen in this area.
- Saint Justus Cathedral is also on the hill, just below the castle. Built in 1320, the interior is richly decorated with Byzantine style mosaics.
- The Serbian Orthodox Church, or Church of Saint Spyridon, on via Genova is one of Trieste’s top churches to visit. The current church was built in 1861 on the old church’s foundation. It’s topped with several domes and has mosaics even on the facade. Stunning Byzantine mosaics and art work decorate the interior.
- In Piazza Verdi is the neoclassical Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi built in 1801. Operas and ballets are performed in the theater.
- Inside an a 19th century villa on Largo Papa Giovanni XXIII, Sartorio Civic Museum has paintings and sculptures, both old and contemporary. Other museums include the Natural History Museum, the Civic Museum of the Sea, an aquarium, and botanical gardens.
- Trieste is known for its coffee and cafe culture. Historic cafes include Caffe San Marco at via Battisti 18, Caffe Tommaseo in Piazza Tommaseo, Caffe Torinese on Corso Italia at via Roma, and Caffe Stella Polare at via Dante 14.
- Wander through the narrow streets of the citta vecchia, the medieval quarter.
- Remains of the Roman theater that once held about 6000 spectators are at the bottom of San Giusto hill just outside the city gates. Near the theater, the Antiquarium has Roman remains but limited opening hours.
- Trieste has a large Christmas market. The Barcolana Regatta, the biggest gathering of boats in the Mediterranean Sea, is held in October. The festival includes various boat races, including illuminated night races, and music, food, and wine.
Plan Your Visit to Trieste
Trieste is on the rail line, a 2 to 3 hour train ride from Venice. Since travel is by regional train, be sure to validate your train ticket before boarding. There’s a small airport about 30 minutes from the city.
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Miramare Castle is a beautiful 19th century villa by the sea, about 5 miles from the city. The castle sits in a nature reserve and has English and Italian style gardens. You’ll have a great view of it from the train as you approach the city. It can be reached by bus from Trieste. The 14th century Duino Castle is about 9 miles from Trieste.