Ten year have passed since I last visited wonderful Trieste and Sandra had never been there at all! It was time to return and show her a city which, above all other European towns, showed the way to a cosmopolitan European continent where different nationalities could meet in harmony and where progressive ideas could be formulated.
Described by “Lonely Planet” guide as “the most underestimated of Italian tourist destinations”, Trieste is a truly fascinating place to discover, not least because of its location at the crossroads of three worlds, the Italian Mediterranean, the Mittel-European Austrian and the Slavonic Balkans.
Trieste was also James Joyce’s favourite place and Italo Svevo’s birthplace too (who was taught English by Joyce before setting out to our London borough of Greenwich to run a paint factory – the subject of my talk which you can read about at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/two-italian-connections-in-my-old-se-london-work-place/)
We approached Trieste via the old coast route which passes by such mythical places as the palazzo Miramar and Duino castle, where, as guest of the Princess Marie Von Thurn und Taxis, the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote his transcendental Duino elegies. Here is a favourite extract from these great reflections on life and death:
Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,
just once. And never again. But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.
The entry into Trieste and its bay was truly spectacular as we drove along the corniche.
Our hotel was right in the centre of Trieste and, as it was the week-end, not only did we find a parking-place in front of it but also paid nothing for it. Here is our dear little car with its even dearer driver before where we stayed.
In the late afternoon and evening we walked around lovely Trieste and met old book-friends like James Joyce and Italo Svevo.
Trieste could be described as Vienna-by-the-sea. Its impressive buildings do have a strong taste of classic Ringstrasse architecture.
But Trieste is also typically Italian with its narrow streets in the old town and its beautiful cathedral dedicated to San Giusto which we would visit the following day.
The evening sunset over the great Piazza Unità d’Italia was spectacular. We voted this among the very best Piazze of Italy ranking with Saint Marks, Palmanova and il Campo di Siena.
Our evening ended with a great impromptu rock concert outside a bar in the old quarter which included Joyce’s favourite red light district. Who needs to pine for Stones tickets when such exciting free events happen in Italy?
‘My heart is in Trieste’ said Joyce and it remained with him until the end as it still does with us!