Trieste, Italy: Having a short break – Part 3

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Trieste, Italy: Having a short break – Part 3


If you’ve drunk Illy coffee, then you’ve tasted Trieste. The firm has its global HQ south of the city, shipping in green beans from all over the world to blend and roast. To celebrate the city’s caffeinated connections, the Trieste Coffee Cluster is a co-op of over fifty local businesses, including five historic cafés. If you enjoy a cup then these five are well suited to a ‘coffee crawl’. A good starting point is the Piazza Unità. The Cafè degli Specchi opened in 1839 and is named after the engraved mirrors (specchi) that line its walls, and was once a haunt for Anglo American servicemen. For a late coffee or something even stronger then walk over to the Cafe San Marco on Via Cesare Battist. This magnificent 1914 corner café, a favourite with Italian nationalists, houses a bookshop and serves local wines such as Refosco and Malvasia. One of the San Marco’s best-known clients was James Joyce, who spent periods in Trieste before and after the First World War. A small but fascinating pit stop is the Museo James Joyce, where you’ll also learn about Joyce’s friend Italo Svevo, Trieste’s best-known native author and supposed model for Ulysses protagonist Leopold Bloom.


Take the old tram at Piazza Oberdan and head to Villa Opicina, on the edge of the Karst region. The route is even steep enough to warrant a funicular cable to pull it up. Stop off at Obelisco station, from where the Strada Vicentina, a 3. 7km path above Trieste, begins.

It’s an easy, partly shaded walk with fine views over the city and bay. From Obelisco, the tram continues to Villa Opicina station, from which trains depart to Ljubljana in Slovenia. Around the fringes of the Karst are dozens of place to stop for something to eat, known by the Slovenian word osmice. It means ‘eights’ and comes from a 1784 imperial decree allowing farmsteads to sell surplus food and wine for eight days or multiples of eight days per year, tax-free.

Lots of farms keep up the tradition, inviting visitors into their flower-filled patios to feast on wine, cheese and meat. You can easily spot an osmice restaurant because another tradition requires they dangle a leafy branch over a wall or from their roof. To make things easier, there is also an app, look up osmize, that tells you which ones are open and at what times, and even which buses to take to get there. Alternatively, just grab a local taxi and enjoy the food.

This is only a quick look at what the city can offer and I hope it encourages you to think of this as a possible city break location.

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Page added on: 15 September 2018
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