Italy Today

Discovering the different souls of Trieste

A journey throughout diversity and art

Discovering the different souls of Trieste

Claudia Astarita

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"A Central European city, where you will breathe a multicultural atmosphere, which will charm you with historic cafés, art, heterogeneous architecture and enchanting sea": this is how a tourism website describes Trieste.

This enchanting Italian city is the capital as well as the most international city of the Italian Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Used to be labelled as the "Little Vienna on the Sea", it is now a truly cosmopolitan city.

As the travel writer Jan Morris once wrote, Trieste "offers no unforgettable landmark, no universally familiar melody, no unmistakable cuisine", yet it's a city that enchants many, its "prickly grace" inspiring a cult-like roll-call of writers, travellers, exiles and misfits. Devotees come to think of its glistening belle époque cafes, dark congenial bars and even its maddening Bora wind as their own; its lack of intensive tourism can make this often feel like it is true, and it is not a coincidence that the Lonely Planet describes the city as enchanting and diverse.

Trieste is certainly renowned for the diversity of its architectural style: Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Eclectic and Baroque coexist in a harmonious blend with Roman remains, eighteenth century buildings and Hapsburg style buildings.

Coffee is one of the flagship products of Trieste. A Free Port for the importation of coffee since the eighteenth century, the port of Trieste is the most important in the Mediterranean for the trade of coffee: the beans that arrive here are not only intended for local coffee roasters but also for those all around the world.

But coffee in Trieste is also a synonym for literature, art and history: many and beautiful are the literary cafes, which are historical premises with retro charm, frequented by poets and writers such as James Joyce, Italo Svevo, and Umberto Saba. Taking a coffee break in one of the historical cafes of Trieste is a real ritual that is absolutely not to be missed and whose appeal has spread even through word of mouth.

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