Queen of the North

November 23, 2011 / Places
Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Nestled in the curve of the Istrian Peninsula on the northernmost shore of the Mediterranean Sea, Trieste is a city of grand palaces and fortresses. It became Roman during the 1st c. BC, but continued to use its pre-Roman name, Tegeste. From 1382 until 1918 Trieste was the most important port of the Hapsburg Monarchy. After World War I, the city became Italian territory, along with the Istrian Peninsula and the Dalmatian coast. (The peninsula and Dalmatian coast became Yugoslavian after World War II and are today Slovenian and Croatian).

The ambiance here is Italian and yet there remains the imprint of Austria, of the Hapsburg, which flavors the city, not only with kraut and apple strudel, but with one of the most enchanting grand palaces in Europe, the Miramare. Designed by Carl Junker, the palace sits angled to the coast, with spectacular views of the sea. It was built in the mid-19th century for Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, brother of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but he lived here only four years before going off to Mexico to become Emperor. He died there, shot by a revolutionary, and never returned to the palace.

Original furnishings and sumptuous blue fabrics decorate the private apartments of Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte. Upstairs, the red throne room leaves no doubt that royalty lived here; the rooms on this floor are lined with portraits of other kings and princes from around Europe and the world. There are Art Deco treasures in the castle, as well as art and antiques. Surrounding Miramare castle are acres of woods and splendid gardens.

Back in the center of Trieste, the expansive Piazza dell’Unita’ d’Italia crowns le rive, the two-kilometer seafront lined with walkways, ristoranti and bar. At night, when the palaces are alive with light, the piazza is as impressive as anywhere in Europe.

Trieste is also a literary city, where the Irish writer James Joyce, as well as the Italian poet Umberto Saba and writer Italo Svevo, lived and worked.

-final photo courtesy of Luigi Perrella, licensed GFDL 1.2

– Contributed by Sharri Whiting (www.sharriwhiting.com). Sharri writes about culture, food, wine and travel, including her blog, UmbriaBella. Her app, Olive Oil IQ, is available at the Apple app store or at iTunes and includes the fascinating history of this Mediterranean staple, as well as recipes, fun and interesting facts about olive oil, and culinary travel details for visitors to Italy.

Sharri Whiting

by Sharri Whiting

Sharri writes about food, wine and international travel from Umbria, where she and her husband grow olives. In addition to articles, she writes a blog,  UmbriaBella. Her app, Olive Oil IQ is a portable encyclopedia for foodies and culinary travelers (iTunes & Android). Follow her on Twitter: @umbriabella and @oliveoiliq. Facebook: www.facebook.com/UmbriaBella, and www.facebook.com/oliveoiliq

10 Responses to “Queen of the North”

  1. giuseppe spano (jojo)
    giuseppe spano (jojo)

    You must also take note of a past part of history in that region, Drioli. Drioli dates back to 18th century Dalmatia, to a place called Zara (also known as “Zadar”), a port city which is now part of Croatia.
    The tradition of Liqueur production, from the Venetian period through history grew into a large industry with a high quality product sought after throughout Europe. The high quality is reflected in the fact that numerous European royal households enjoyed Liqueur from Zara, especially maraschino. It is here that Francesco Drioli first produced his liqueur made from maraschino cherry. The “Fabbrica di Maraschino Drioli di Zara” was established in 1759.Now gone as it was obliterated during war,the only remnant is the bottles,empty now yet very collectable. Sig. Drioli (the younger) is my neighbor.

  2. Peter Masullo

    We’re there in April this year for two days. We wished we could have stayed a little longer. We took the train from Venice and rented an apartment for the visit. We took the tram which goes to the top of the mountain and looks down on the city. If you are going to Venice it makes a great side trip.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this Sharri. I had never considered visiting Trieste but now its near the top of my list for our next trip to Venice.

  4. Virginia C. Mars

    It was very informative and whetted the appetite for a visit. Thank you.

  5. Eligia Cocolo

    Thank you so much for the wonderful article. Trieste ( my home town) is finally being discovered. There was a nice page on face book as well recently and in the N.Y. times as well.
    One little note: the antique name was Tergeste.
    Eligia C

  6. Anne Robichaud

    Enjoyed all the notes above and your article, Sharri.
    Been trying to unearth the wonders of Italy for over 30 years and Trieste has still eluded.
    I’ve got it targeted now – for exploration soon!

  7. My husband and I took a day trip to Trieste from our stay in Venice in October. We loved the feel of the city – I think, the old Austrian Elegance combined with the warmth of the Italian influence was palpable. The city is beautifully situated at the base of the hill which was walked up. I’m looking forward to returning. PS – I have a lovely photo of my husband standing with his close friend James Joyce!

  8. Ann Keefe Ferguson

    We lived in Trieste (then the Free Territory of Trieste) when my father was stationed there. My brother and I visited in 2007 and both brothers and I returned in 2009. Walked the city, visited Miramare, and took the tram to Opicina. We remembered those years as some of the most pleasant in our lives.

  9. Dominick Conte

    Dear Sharri,
    When I was 9 years old, I went to Italy to visit my grandparents.
    On the return trip on the Andrea Doria, a gentleman who was in the chours for the Metropolitan Opera, introduced me to a song about young lovers from Trieste who were separated by political changes of sovereignty, it was called “Vola Columba.” It was my introduction to that part of the world and on our next trip, we will visit. Thank you for your article.


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