Trieste is one of the most beautiful Italian cities. It is spectacularly placed in front of the sea, nestled foothills. The beautiful nineteenth century buildings that line the waterfront testify to a past of great maritime traffics with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Trieste has always been, and still is, a frontier town, both culturally and geographically: Slovenia is not far from the Carso heights leading there, and from where the Bora wind sweeps the city.
It is the capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia with about 210,000 inhabitants. Trieste is a fascinating and aristocratic city. It is the last city of northeast Italy, the extreme southern part of Central Europe, the first city in the new Europe at the same time. The three notations enable us to understand a rich fabric of history, art and culture linked to the world of technology and scientific research, and to nature that here shows only some of its most fascinating phenomena.
Really, you can not understand Trieste at a glance. Viewed from the sea, it appears in a semicircle between the promontory of St. Andrew, where the lantern rests, and Ripa. The bank is barricaded by a long row of houses and buildings. The row is interrupted by a flight of streets that are lost within the city. Only toward the Portonuovo, between two rows of buildings, the Grand Canal opens a hole in the heart of the city for about 300 meters, forming one of the most characteristic spots of Trieste: the casual walker is startled by the sudden view of ships in the middle of the city, unexpectedly appearing to those coming off the main street going into the Pontegrosso, Canal Grande, and the likes.
At the bottom of the canal stands a Roman-style church, St. Anthony, beside the church of the Greek schismatics, St. Spyridon in purely Byzantine style. Viewed from the sea, therefore, Trieste appears almost tiny. Two hills, springing from the heart of the city, San Giusto and San Vito, make believe here are two possible limits to the city. On the contrary, after climbing those two hills, the city rushes to occupy the valleys that open behind, fending a new assault on to other flanking hills, then continuing to grow between walls of rock, and the jolly vegetable gardens and groves. Therefore, there never is a single point of the city from which the observer can embrace the whole city.
According to many visitors, few Italian cities have such natural beauties as Trieste. Due to its enviable position, Trieste has always attracted many artists, who searched for their inspiration in its purple sunrises and fire sunsets. Byron, Charles Nodier, Carducci, are just a few.
Trieste shows the changing of times with ruins that attest to its Roman origins, its alleys in the old neighborhoods, the remains of its medieval walls, and towers, the patrician houses, now poor, battered, but still with a noble character, the legends carved on nude rocks, the wells in the courtyards, and the preserved tombstones with Latin inscriptions.
The city has experienced long years of political extremism, which has sometimes been national irredentism, sometimes a real clash of civilizations. The definitive passage to Italy in 1954 is still alive in the memory of Trieste, during a time when the return to the homeland appeared uncertain. Almost by a miracle in Trieste, just like in other border cities of transit, the constant psychological tension, dictated by the many political upheavals and uncertainties, refined intellectual sensibility and produced fine reflections of intellectuals born here, or that here found their creative habitats: James Joyce, Rainer Maria Rilke, Umberto Saba and Italo Svevo. The legendary Cafes of Trieste are imbued with memories of great conversations and discussions that took place within them. They happened at a time when politics and art, literature and philosophy were discussed in various languages, in a twilight world with an uncertain future that was darkly looming ahead.