Trieste's most authentic and largest centre - defined by buildings with political, financial or meeting functions - still retains the layout it was given at the end of the Austro-Hungarian 19th century, when it was named after the Emperor Franz Joseph. For the past ninety years, however, two poles towards the sea have been flying the flags of Italy and the Municipality of Trieste on feast days.
From the square, you can see the Molo Audace, where the Regia Nave Audace, an Italian destroyer, had docked on 3 November 1918, when World War I had effectively ended. Strolling along the long pier and taking pictures of the square and the waterfront, is a temptation few can resist.
The eclectic façade of the late 19th-century City Hall, with its plays of light and dark, acts as a backdrop to the square. Facing it, to your left is the legendary Caffè degli Specchi and the neo-Renaissance early 20th century Government Building, now the Prefecture. On your right are the late 18th-century Palazzo Pitteri and a 19th-century French Renaissance style building. Finally, towards the sea, there is the palace built in the late 19th century as the Austrian headquarters of Lloyds and, since 1919, Lloyd Triestino, the first private shipping company ever established in the Peninsula. The Lloyds Building now houses the presidency of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, of which Trieste is the capital. Lastly, towards the sea, almost opposite the Molo Audace, is Caffè Tommaseo, Trieste's longest continuously running café.