Today I will write about the foreign town I had visited the most time in my life and have a special connection to: Trieste, city in northern Italy.
The main reason why I have been such a frequent guest in this town is because it is close to my hometown, Rijeka. Only 60 km away and you can pass through Slovenia and enter Italy, all in about an hour.
The second reason I am so connected with this town is its history and similarity to Rijeka. Some may know Rijeka was a part of Italy decades ago. The others may know that Trieste was always divided between southern Slavs and Italians. I had a Slovenian roommate who would say “Trst je slovenski”, which means that some of them still see it as their own. If you look at the demographic info, the number of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs is very high. That’s why there are plenty of signs written in Slavic languages (usually Slovenian, sometimes in Croatian), there are newspapers for the widely spread Slovenian minority and in the stores almost everyone knows at least basic Slovenian.
My memories of Trieste come from an early age. I revoke the memories of numerous family trips to Trieste for shopping. We would usually buy food because, believe it or not, it was a lot cheaper than buying it in Croatia. It still is, what is again ridiculous compared to the monthly salaries in Croatia (average of 800 Euro) and Italy (average of 2000 Euro!). In the early 90s everyone was referring to Trieste as “Shopping Mecca”.
I remember buying all sorts of Kinder chocolates, Nutella and the other sugar happiness. We would sometimes buy clothes, but it was food that made us happy the most. We would rarely go sightseeing, which is why I started doing it last year when I deliberately tried to connect with the city the most as I can.
Another way I am connected to Trieste is because of its historical connection to Rijeka: it is important to mention that both of them were a part of Austria-Hungary (Austro-Hungarian Empire). Yes, there are other cities from A-H with many similarities, such as Austrian Vienna and Croatian Zagreb who have similar architectural approach but Trieste and Rijeka are so much alike because of their main streets, their size and the architecture. My friend said last summer when we were roaming through Trieste “Thank God they didn’t annex it to Yugoslavia, it probably wouldn’t look so nice now” so I guess Trieste is definitely more polished and esthetically pleasing. But both of them cities are quite relevant in this region: they are both important harbors and primary industrial cities so, even though on the sea, the tourism is the second main income (at least that’s how it was through history).
Of course, Trieste is still Italy so you can enjoy sweet little cafes with their perfect espresso, warm croissants and gelatos and all that with really affordable prices (unlike in the other Italian touristic cities).
There is one good restaurant in the center of the city, right next to a canal and Orthodox church, where I am always going with my mum. They serve great pizzas and pastas there (because what else were you going to eat in Italy) and for about 10 Euros per meal which is affordable.
So to conclude: if you are visiting Italy, I am sure there are places which are higher on your list than Trieste (Venice is my all time favourite, tbh). But if you are around and just want to hang-out and take it slow, take a walk through its streets and drink coffee in its little cafes because it is not only a city of Italian vibes, it is a place where you can feel history.