Our professor took us on a historical trip through his city of Trieste last Saturday. We began at 8 in the morning and finished at 8 at night, huddled inside a Serbian Orthodox church with rain battering the stone ceiling and lightning flashing outside the stained glass. By the end, my ankles were ruined, feet stinky as a wet dog, and heart bursting with the pain of history and beauty of the present. We began in Piazza Oberdan.
The building is an outstanding example of attention to detail on a neoclassical design. It is actually about 50 meters from my apartment and the winged lion and ancient stones are always a pleasure to pass on the way to the crowded bus.
Next, we made our way to the famous castle of the tragically fated, Maximillian I of Austria. He moved to Mexico in 1864 in an attempt to rule as Emperor. The Mexicans weren’t as impressed by his beard as I am, and killed him three years later. Nevertheless, the beautiful white castle he had built before he left still stands astride the waters of the Adriatic.
We spent two hours with an Italian tour guide who explained EVERY inch of the place, perhaps not understanding my vexation bordering on contempt of king worship. Of course, it was beautiful, and that’s what you get when construction workers’ lives depend on creating masterpieces.
After a long traffic jam along the waterside, we made it to lunch at Ristorante Marina San Giusto. It was a perfect place. The chilly Bora winds had just started blowing, kicking up the water to appear as angry white topped waves. We ate a communal lunch of spinach gnocchi, fried calamari and squash, watermelon, wine and an espresso to help digest.
Full of fried goodness, we ambled over to Il Piccolo, the local newspaper. It smelled like cigarettes and information inside. There wasn’t much work happening, as it was after lunch at an Italian newspaper.
We ate a small gelato, and went to the amazing Museo Revoltella, a former house of the distinguished lady killer known as Barone Pasquale Revoltella. We were losing daylight now, and had to rush through the five floors of brilliance. I took lots of photos inside, but these are my favorites.
Next, we hit up the major churches of the hillsides.
There are also some scattered Roman ruins, some houses built right into the arches and pillars. This is a beautiful mosaic from Cathedral San Giusto.
Mercifully, (to my knees and ankles) we finished as dusk approached. We had seen a large chunk of this crossroads town. It was the port of Vienna for years, a competitor to Venice’s might, set within the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Yugoslav borders, and finally returned to Italy in 1954. It retains much of the former inhabitants’ energy and style. But now, it is fully Italian, albeit with lots of Austrian pork, Slovenian beer and Croatian tourists.