The province of Trieste is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of land in south-east Friuli-Venezia Giulia, between the Adriatic Sea and Italy’s border with Slovenia.
This is an extraordinary destination for its historic treasures, art works and its mid-European character. It inspired important writers such as Rilke, Joyce, Svevo.
On the coast there is the big gulf where Trieste lays, with its harbour and numerous bays, small harbours and breathtaking reefs with castles by the sea, like the wonderful Miramare castle.
The area of Trieste is characterized by the steep karstic landscape continually revealing different, amazing and charming features. Close to the coast it is a rocky moor with Mediterranean vegetation where the Bora wind blows, while in the inside there are hills with hollows and scrubs.
There are also interesting protected areas: Riserva Naturale della Val Rosandra where special plants and flowers grow, Riserva Naturale Marina di Miramare that lies in a coastal sea landscape with sharp rocks and a wide variety of underwater flora and fauna, Riserva Naturale delle Falesie di Duino, with white cliffs overhanging the sea.
In the Karstic area of Trieste it is possible to admire impressive natural wonders, like the renowned Grotta Gigante, the inlets of the river Timavo with green and flourishing banks or the characteristic dolina of Percedol, a special valley rich in flourishing vegetation. There are also many interesting caves and grottos, and many of them are unexplored.
The charm of the area is not only in its naturalistic aspects: the elegant city of Trieste, where the Habsburg influence is noticeable, the inland small towns with their traditions and also the small touristy areas on the coast are priceless treasures of this tiny strip of land.
The first step in visiting this area is Trieste, a charming city on the sea, surrounded by the impressive Karstic plateau.
The old city centre has a rich historic and artistic repertoire like the Arco Riccardo (arch), the Roman Theatre, the Cathedral of San Giusto (14th century) with mosaic decorations and San Giusto Castle. Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia (square) is extremely charming with its austrian imprint. It is surrounded by neoclassical buildings, with one side of the square facing the sea.
Trieste is a really suggestive city, thanks to its monuments of different periods, old coffee shops where literature fans and writers would meet, the harbour and the impressive examples of Art Nouveau architecture. The Faro della Vittoria is unmissable: it is an impressive lighthouse on the Gretta hill, a modern monument made with the white rock of Orsera, dedicated to the fallen during the First World War. A unique panoramic route is offered by the old Tram of Opicina, that connects the centre of Trieste to Villa Opicina, climbing the Karstic plateau along impressive ramps with a wide view on the gulf and the city.
Along the coast one can admire three old castles, located in amazing panoramic positions: the Duino Castle, surrounded by a big park with terraces and walkways; the wonderful Miramare Castle - made with the white rock of Istria - overhanging the sea, near Trieste and the Muggia Castle, in the picturesque small town of Muggia located in the Italian part of Istria, facing the sea.
Muggia is a source of surprises for its visitors: the city centre has a Venetian influence with calli (narrow streets) and campielli (small squares), a majestic cathedral and wonderful buildings. Moreover, it is a renowned tourist resort, perfect for a relaxing beach holiday, with Porto San Rocco, a modern tourist harbour with any comfort.
Also there's Baia Sistiana - considered one of the best beaches of the area - and Duino - with rocks overhanging the sea - charming destinations for beach holidays.
As far as naturalistic attractions, the Grotta Gigante is well worth a visit. It is considered the biggest hypogean karstic cave, with many stalactites formed with the steady trickle of the water. A route in the karstic inland will lead to characteristic small towns like Monrupino - with its fascinating fortress - and Rupingrande, with its characteristic Casa Carsica, a kind of ethnographic museum with costumes, tools and country pieces of furniture.
Prosecco, Samatorza, San Dorligo della Valle: these are just some of the small villages in the Karstic plateau, with their characteristic stone houses and their “osmize”, cosy small restaurants to taste local wines and specialities.
The sea and the karstic landscapes offer a wide variety of excursions in wild areas. Walking lovers can follow the “Sentiero di Rilke” (Rilke’s path). This route dedicated to the poet goes from Duino to Sistiana along the spectacular reefs of the Riserva Naturale delle Falesie of Duino and reveals breathtaking landscape views.
The Karstic plateau is perfect for many activities: trekking and mountain biking or extreme sports like free climbing in Val Rosandra or on the cliffs of Karst. Speleology lovers can explore many caverns and Karstic caves.
Rivers and waterways are perfect for rafting, going on a kayak and canoeing. In the area there are many centers to practice golf and to go riding.
Along the coast it is possible to practice any aquatic sport and sailing. The rocky coast and the clearness of depths are perfect for diving, exploring the wide variety of underwater flora and fauna.
This area has a schedule rich in folkloric events from different traditions. There is the Carnival of Muggia with floats and people in costumes and the Cerimonia delle Nozze Carsiche - a historic performance of a Slovenian ritual (it takes place in Monrupino every two years, the last Sunday of August).
In Trieste there are many events during the whole year: The Festival dell’Operetta (between July and August) with many international musicians, the Latin-American Film Festival (in October) and the Trieste Film Festival, dedicated to Central and Eastern Films (in January).
Also the sport events are really important: the Barcolana or Regata d’autunno is an historic boat race (the second Sunday of October) in the Gulf of Trieste and the Bavisela or Maratona d’Europa (marathon) that takes place in Trieste the first Sunday of May.
In almost every small town it is possible to taste local wines and there are feasts with typical products.
The food in this area is rich and varied, due to Austrian, Venetian and Friulian influences.
Typical dishes: jota, a soup made with white cabbage, beans, pork and potatoes; the zuf, a polenta dish; many kinds of risotto; gnochi de pan (bread dumplings) and gnochi de susini (prune dumplings). As far as seafood and shellfish the granseola alla Triestina (with spider-crabs) is really famous.
The karstic inland food is characterized by stronger flavours: cheese, sausages with sauerkraut and pork shank, ham baked in the oven.
Desserts (mostly deriving from Austrian and Slovenian tradition): presnitz, a pastry filled with dried fruits, strucolo, apple strudel, the pinza (sweet pizza) and gubana (Easter bread).
The typical Karstic wines such as Terrano, Malvasia and Refosco are excellent.
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