Monday, October 10, 2011


Leaving Venice would have been too sad if we hadn't already made plans to return in two weeks.  As it was, we happily boarded the train at St. Lucia Station and concentrated on the last major stop before our final destination, Triste. 

Like so many other cities along the northern Adriatic coast, Trieste has a long, long history.  Evidence of man's presence has been uncovered from as far back as the Paleolithic Age, 450,000 years ago.  The oldest evidence was found in the numerous caves in the area; later evidence was found on hill-tops in the form of fortified villages surrounded by dry stone walls.  Still later, the Romans colonized the area and then the Barbarians invaded.  By 539, the city was under Byzantium's rule, but in 1318 it became a Free Commune.  Then the Venetians decided they would declare war in 1368.  Following the Venetian victory, the city was a pawn in countless power plays among the giants of the day, many long forgotten.  Despite its turbulent history, Triste is a living museum.  Art is everywhere!
Even the street lights are lovely!

Sculpture knows no bounds.  Look for it on top of light-houses, holding up fountains, looking down from roof tops, and clinging to building walls. 

It would impossible to pick favorites, but this one does stand out.  Standing in place of honor in Piazza della Liberta, Elizabeth, Sissy, was wife to Emperor Francis Joseph.  She was quite a character with all kinds of weird ideas, but the people loved her.
In the middle of town, only a few blocks from the main piazza, we found a Roman theatre.  Enough of the structure is in place to help you imagine that you could buy your ticket, take your seat, and watch the show. 

One of the main attractions of Trieste is the Cathedral and Castle of St. Giusto.  All crowded together on top of a hill that feels far more like a mountain before you get to the top, the buildings work as a crown for this lovely city.
Along the front of St. Giusto's Castle, we found the remains of a Roman temple. Much of the building material for St. Giusto's Cathedral came from this early structure. 

The bell tower of the cathedral was built directly on the remains of an ancient Roman bell tower, and the door jambs were once Roman tombstones. A halo and a halbred were added to one of the portraits carved in the stone to convert the freed woman, Tullia, to St. Sergius.  
 Later, inside the castle, we visited the Lapidarium, store house and exhibition center for the surviving sculpture, mosaics, and carvings from the Roman excavations. 

Inside the cathedral, the art work was lovely, but extremely difficult to photograph due to the lack of light.  Although these photos do not capture the most famous or the most interesting pieces in the cathedral, they are the best of my efforts.  

The cathedral was not only built on Roman foundations, but is actually a blending of two small churches built side by side, one constructed in the 9th century, the second in the 11th century.  At the beginning of the 14th century, the two lateral naves were pulled down, creating one church.  Click here for additional information.

The castle was interesting, but not nearly as intriguing as the church.  However, much like the church, it has a layered history.
 During a six hundred year construction, the structure and purpose of the castle changed several times as the needs of the city changed.  Initially, it was to be used for defense; then as a sort of grand estate for the Captain of the Town; later as a prison; and today it serves as a museum and exhibition center as well as home for the Lapidarium.

We climbed the hill the hard way, going through the Parco della Rimembranza, a memorial park for the fallen of World War I.

We took the stairs coming down.  Built over a tunnel for car traffic, the stairs bring you down from the crown of the city to its bustling floor in a matter of minutes. 

One morning, we boarded the tram and took off for Villa Opicina.

A unique combination tram/funicular system winds up the hill to the town where signs are in both Slovenian and Italian and where as much Slovenian is spoken both privately and publicly as Italian. 

We enjoyed peeking through grates, gates, and fences to glimpse the old homes hidden by huge trees and thick hedges.  

The park was the best part.  Miles of trails took us through the trees . . .

From one break taking view of the city below to the next.

Going up was exciting, but coming down was even better with quick sightings of the city, lovely plantings, and some great architecture sprinkled along the way.

No matter how lovely the city, one of my most vivid memories will always be the motor scooters.  This has to be the mother lode of motor scooters for the entire continent.  They were everywhere, ripping through the streets, driven by teenage boys, dashing young women, and middle aged folks who should have known to slow down and be careful, but didn't.  When in Trieste, be careful to look both ways several times before crossing the street.

Another favorite were the flower kiosks.

Yes, I'm still looking for birds!

My friends in Mexico are always on my mind!

All kinds of beautiful little flowers - many of them growing in the grass, but some pushing their way through cracks in stone walls, and one in a flower box.

All this and far more.  I would be happy to meet you in Trieste any time!