On Trieste (Italy)

Trieste – TREE est in English, TREE ess te in Italian, Trst (Trist) in Croatian and Slovenian.

I was 11 years old for my last trip to Trieste (1964). Because of the relative closeness of Trieste, Italy to where our Rick Steves ended (Lake Bled, Slovenia), we decided to extend our vacation with a side trip to the city of my birth.

Given its location on the Adriatic Sea’s Gulf of Trieste, Trieste has a storied history. Looking at it on a map should be head-scratching to many because it seems Slovenia would be a more natural fit.


Trieste’s beginning is rooted to the Romans in the second century BC.


After being ruled by Charlemagne then the Venetians – who built local icon sites San Giusto Castle and Cathedral.

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Trieste became part of the Habsburg Monarchy and eventually the main port for Austria-Hungary (1382-1918). Many of the majestic buildings of today were built during this prosperous time.

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With Italy being on the winning side of WW1 and Austria-Hungary being dismantled, Trieste became part of Italy in 1915 – although numerous Slovenes lived there at the time. Italy also annexed part of Slovenia, then lost it in WW2.

TIto’s Yugoslavia wanted Trieste as WW2 was ending. On 5 March 1946, Winston Churchill referenced Trieste in his famous Iron Curtain speech: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

Because Trieste was pivotal, the UN established it as an independent free territory (1947) that was protected by American and British forces. Enter my dad, a member of the US Army – where he met my mother who went to Trieste from northern Tuscany to work. They married and I was born there. We a few months after I was born, and then a year later (1954), Trieste became part of Italy.


With a population today of just over 200,000, Trieste proudly displays its past. Leading back to its Austria-Hungary days, Trieste is Italy’s City of Coffee. There are hundreds of ways to serve coffee in Trieste – and not a Starbuck’s to be found.

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Being on the sea, Triestines love sailing – and a weeklong, large regatta festival (Barcolana) just started. The flute orchestra was part of the festivities.

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I love the way the city is built on the hillside sloping the sea – and then in the city, Piazza Unità d’Italia opens to the sea. (Note: Europe’s largest square facing the sea)

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Even though I recalled some of the sites but not remember where I was born or baptized, it was fun to return to my birthplace. After all, it is part of me. Plus it was a chance to share it with my wife, who didn’t know what to expect.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my trip to Trieste – a special place for me. I invite you to watch the video (with a fitting song) below and visit a post by a reader here, visit Debra @ Bagni di Lucca and Beyond. Also, here’s a past-post of mine about Trieste.

Next Stop: Venice

Click here for past posts of this tour.

47 thoughts on “On Trieste (Italy)

  1. Good morning, Frank! I think I mentioned before that my father’s father sailed out of Trieste when his family immigrated to America. He was a little boy, and he sailed with his mother and sister. His father was already here. They came from Kiev, so Trieste would have just been a stop on their journey, and it was still part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. I remember him telling me that ship was stuck in the harbor for a while. In any case, Trieste is lovely. I’m glad you got to revisit the city of your birth. I didn’t know about the coffee there. I love Italian coffee, and it was good everywhere, so it must be exceptional in Trieste! 🙂

    Oh–in the paragraph about the Iron Curtain speech, I think you meant to write Churchill referenced in the sentence after Tito.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Merril,
      I remember that about your grandfather … and actually thought of that as I was there.

      Trieste was into coffee long before it became a craze in Seattle. 🙂 Sadly, I’m don’t drink coffee very often.

      Thanks about Iron Curtain note. How and the heck I left Churchill out of the text is beyond me … but it was in my head! 😉 … Nonetheless, I clarified … so many thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yahooey,
      Brilliant point about Europe’s history of shifting borders. I recall (on the trip) learning about a time when Poland was gone by being subdivided to become part of other countries. Meanwhile, that little extension of Italy toward Trieste is a bit odd to the eye.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tim,
      Now that’s funny … but my involvement through these posts of giving others ideas may be about as good as I can do. Meanwhile, glad you enjoyed my little jaunt to this interesting city at the top of the Adriatic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful tour this was! I had to come earlier than I expected to, after your mention last night. You ain’t kidding when you talk about iconic sites! I love the way these European cities blend the old with the new.
    And speaking of blending, of COURSE there are thousands of ways to make coffee that are not spelled Starbucks. That stuff ain’t coffee! Not real coffee anyways . . .

    Love your ‘home town’ tour!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marc,
      Ah ha … you must be a coffee drinker – and one that I anticipate would enjoy a coffee journey across this city!

      You hit one of the reasons why I like Europe so much – not only the blending of the old and the new – but also how they incorporate the old by reusing it (as opposed to our method of letting buildings fall apart, which then leads to the bulldozer. BTW – did you know I was Italian born?

      Liked by 2 people

      • You could say that, you could definitely say that . . .

        Yes, it is a much more aesthetic way, not to mention sensible, way of doing business, ain’t it?

        And no, I don’t think I did know that! Welcome to the party, paisan!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Patti,
      I left there at the young age of 3 months, but I remember more from a visit at age 11 (which was my last visit) – so it was a place I wanted to revisit. On the flip side, my wife didn’t know what to expect. Thanks for tagging along. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, well, that was a super interesting post. The history, not just of Trieste, but of you, as well, is a great journey. I did know you were Italian born, but the story is now part of the knowledge.
    I love history, and it’s true that man should learn from it, but he seems doomed to repeat it in slightly different ways.
    I certainly know Illy coffee. There are several tins being reused for other things gracing my cupboard’s shelves.
    Great shots, and I’m happy for you that you made the side trip!!!!
    I don’t drink Starbucks, anymore. Haven’t for years. Although, as far as it’s employee practices go, it sounds like a decent corp to work for.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Resa,
      Trieste’s history is definitely interesting – and (as one pic shows) there is a separatist movement still today … but I don’t know how strong it is. Technically, I would be Triestine born – not Italian – because of the time period – so legally after the transfer, I don’t know. Even Google has a hard time finding the answer! (See my answer to Betsy below to add to the complexity).

      Although you pass on Starbucks these days, I’m thinking you still enjoy coffee – so Trieste would be for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Trieste is a beauty, Frank. I am always fascinated with the history and reminders of the Roman civilization. I would enjoy walking among the sites you’ve shared. I can imagine this was a very meaningful stop in your trip, and a delight for you and your wife to share the city together!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Debra,
      This city has many layers – then again, that’s probably true for all European cities. You would love the history here because so much of it is in the past 150 years. You mentioned the Roman Theater. Many times this sites are more isolated, but not this one! It’s location/surroundings would surprise you.

      Liked by 1 person

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