"Trieste is actually a non-place" was told to me by the host of the bed and breakfast I was staying in a couple of days ago when I visited the city as part of an overland trip from the south of France to Croatia.
The city lies in the northeastern part of Italy and is just a couple of kilometres away from the Slovenian border. Contrary to the rest of Italy, Trieste has been culturally more part of Central-Europe (Mitteleuropa) as it was until 1918 the seaport of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Between 1947 and 1953 it was even governed by the UN as the “Free territory of Trieste” after Italy’s defeat in WWII.
The architecture reminds the visitor more of Vienna than other Italian cities, there is a big presence of Slavic people who historically have been inhabiting the area, it has a very strong coffee culture (the world famous coffee-brands Illy and Housebrandt are Triestine) and some great cafés such as the fantastic Café San Marco.
This magical, borderland place has also been attracting writers and intellectuals during its rich history and has been the home of James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, Claudio Magris, Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba.
And last but not least; a visit to Trieste will be a rewarding experience as this great, unknown city is never -even not during the mediterranean tourist peak season - overcrowded by tourists.
All images: © Marijan Bilic