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