My original plan was to visit Aquileia on Friday and Trieste on Saturday, but since I was awake super early again (jet lag effects) and I needed to take an early train to Trieste to take the 10:00 tour of the city, I changed plans and headed to the bus station at 6:45 am! The bus stop was a quick walk from my hotel and the bus arrived soon after I arrived at the bus stop. Good thing another person was taking this bus. I forgot that you need to put your arm out to indicate that you want the bus to stop, or the bus may not stop even though you are standing at the bus stop.
I was able to quickly purchase a ticket using the train ticket machine and made the 7:09 train/arriving in Trieste at 8:29. There were quite a few stops along the way. Towards the end of the train ride, the views of the Adriatic Sea were beautiful. Once the train arrived, it was an easy walk to the historic center. I stopped in front of the famous Canal Grande and took this photo.
Trieste is a bustling city with lots of tall buildings. I was glad to see cross walks with lights. It would have been much more of a challenge to navigate this city on foot without the lights.
It was only a bit farther to walk to the tourist information center, located in Piazza Unità d’Italia. The tourist information center was not open yet, so I went in search of Antico Caffè Torinese. I read that this was supposed to be a very cool old caffè. I wasn’t that impressed but the coffee was good.
After my coffee, I returned to the tourist information center. I wanted to make sure to get a spot on the tour, which I was able to take for free with my FVG card. I rarely take tours but wanted to take a tour while in Trieste since I would only be there for the day and thought that would be the best use of my time instead of wandering aimlessly, not really knowing what I was seeing or trying to find places and getting lost all day.
I showed the woman in the office my card and was told to come back at 10:30. For some reason, I thought the tour was at 10, but now I had time to kill. I asked her where I could find a little fruit store. She told me that there was a food market in the Canal Grande area. I walked back there, admiring the buildings along the way.
When I arrived at the market, I checked out all of the fruit and vegetable stands and chose one with delicious looking nectarines. I asked for one nectarine and the man gave it to me for free! What a nice man! I wandered around a bit more, looking in shops and admiring more of the beautiful buildings before heading back to Piazza Unità d’Italia
Back out in front of the tourist information center, a few people started to congregate. I struck up a conversation with a nice couple from Pisa. At 10:30, a woman came outside and introduced herself to all of us. I can’t remember her name, but she was a great tour director. There were about 12 of us in total taking the tour, half speaking Italian and half speaking English.
We started the tour right in Piazza Unità d’Italia. Piazza Unità d’Italia is the largest piazza in Europe located next to the sea. Before 1919 it was known as Piazza Grande or the Great Square. Below are the buildings you will find in this beautiful piazza…
Palazzo del Municipio with the Fontana dei Quattro Continenti:
Il Palazzo del Governo, which houses the offices of the Prefecture and the Palazzo del Lloyd:
and Palazzo Stratti, with the historic Caffè degli Specchi:
Next, we walked over to see two churches which are located on the slopes of the hill of San Giusto in the oldest part of the city. The larger church on the left – Il Santuario di Santa Maria Maggiore, which was built between 1627 and 1682 by the Jesuits and was not completed until the beginning of the eighteenth century and the smaller church on the right – La Basilica di San Silvestro, which is one of the oldest churches in Trieste, dating back to the 12th century.
Not far from the churches, we stopped in front of the Arco di Riccardo, which possibly dates back to 33 BC and is an ancient archway or Roman gate built into the Roman walls. There are other stories about this arch, including something about Richard the Lionheart but they may be just legends.
Then we walked up another hill to see visit La Cattedrale di San Giusto. It is the major church of the city. This church has a tiny tower located next to it. I had plans to return to climb this tower, but never ended up getting back to this area that day. We were able to spend a few minutes inside of the beautiful church where you will find some very cool mosaics and frescoes. Below are some photos (both outside and inside the church).
Next on the tour, not far from the church was a monument on the left, a row of trees, and on the right, and the Castello di San Giusto along with ruins outside the castle. From there, you could look out into the sea. Our tour director pointed out some of the sights from this viewpoint.
We then started to head back downhill to see a glimpse of the Teatro Romano (I could not get any good photos of the Roman Theater from where we stood. ). On the way to the stopped here first. I just can’t remember now what the significance of this was but I thought it was beautiful.
One of our last stops was a visit to the Chiesa Serbo Ortodossa di San Spiridione, which is located on the Canal Grande. Here are a few photos of this beautiful Orthodox Church. Unfortunately there was scaffolding covering most of the mosaics inside this church. You can sort of see them behind the scaffolding. We only were given a minute to walk through the church. I went back later to spend more time in this church but it was closed. The first photo below was taken when I returned and is the front of the church. The other exterior photos are of the back of the church (or perhaps that is the real front of the church?).
The last part of the tour took us back close to where we started. Our tour director told us about a few more important newer buildings in Trieste in the Piazza della Borsa area. I am really glad I took the tour. It was very informative!
After the tour ended, I asked the tour director for a recommendation for lunch. I wanted to find a place to eat away from the more touristy area of the city. She recommended a place called Trattoria alla Gioconda. She said it was about a 15 minute walk. No problem! Or at least I thought!
I put the restaurant into Google Maps and started on my way. One hour later, after walking around in circles and having Google Maps announce to me twice that I had arrived at my destination, I somehow ended up right in front of the trattoria just as I was about to give up! The main problem I had trying to find this place was that many of the streets have no street signs on the buildings. I did see a part of Trieste (a couple of times) that I would never have seen if I did not go in search of this restaurant, so it wasn’t all bad. I was pretty hungry when I finally arrived.
I was so glad there was a table available when I arrived. I ordered spaghetti alle vongole (with clams). The trattoria was filled with local people. My plate was huge. The food was good. When I went to pay the bill, I started a conversation with the owner. He asked where I was from. I showed him some photos, including our May snowstorm and some moose photos. We ended up chatting for quite a while. When I went to leave, I asked him for better directions. He got out his iPad and went to Google Maps and then decided it would be better to walk out with me and point out the way. It took me just 10 minutes to get back to where I started!
I stopped at a farmacia and purchased some granulated ibuprofen. Thank you, Amy for this tip!! I also stopped in La Feltrinelli to purchase a little journal notebook and a pen to start writing down all my notes about my trip. After I left the bookstore, I saw a few people walking around eating gelato and went in search for the gelateria. I hit the jackpot, finding the very delicious Cremeria Teresiana, which is located near the Canal Grande. Only 1.50€ for a delicious cup of nocciola gelato. YUM!! That’s when I checked on the two nearby churches and both were closed.
I walked over to one of the bridges and took a photo of the statue of James Joyce.
Then I walked back to Piazza Unità d’Italia and ordered a caffè macchiato at the bar inside the very beautiful Caffè degli Specchi. I thought I took a photo while inside, but I guess not. I found some cool photos here.
I took a few more photos in the piazza and then walked over to the sea, spending some time there taking photos and just enjoying the sounds, sights, and smells of the Adriatic Sea.
I checked the train times. The 16:52 train only took 1 hour to reach Udine. The following train, leaving 30 minutes later, would take 1 1/2 hours to reach Udine. I decided to head to the train station to catch the next train, which was leaving in about 20 minutes. The walk back to the station only took about 10 minutes.
I am going to stop here and continue Day 3 in another post…
Next up – Friday ~ back in Udine