Some of you have clearly understood that when the weather gets hot and I have more free time, one of my favourite activities is traveling. Unfortunately my husband works in the event industry, therefore summer is the period when his job gets more intense and it's not always possible to go on a proper two-week vacation. But Italy offers so much and often one needs only to get a train to discover wonderful towns, unwind and recharge their batteries. I love my country so much that a dream of mine is to take a year off and travel through the so-called stivale and learn more about the huge differences between one town and the other and among all the different regions.
Last weekend as destination I chose Trieste, a wonderful small border town overlooking the Adriatic sea, rich in history, art and mouthwatering food. A city I would easily live in, with a high quality of life and lots and lots of cultural activities. Before enrolling at Ca' Foscari (where I graduated in 2011 in Conservation of the Cultural Heritage), I was actually about to move to Trieste to do translation studies. Its university, in fact, is known worldwide for its Language & Translation (many graduates end up working for the EU!) and Cinema Faculties. Plus, its small dimension allows an easy and slow-paced lifestyle ...
Anyway, this time we slept there only one night, thus this post cannot include everything the city offers, but some tips on how to get the most from one day in Trieste in a relaxed manner. This post is dedicated to people with a medium (or medium-low) budget like us, who still appreciate quality food, art and design and want to enjoy an authentic experience. Hope you will find it useful!
WHERE TO STAY
All these apartments are located in the heart of the city and allow you to go everywhere on foot without renting a car. The apartments are all equipped with a small kitchenette, so you can enjoy total freedom and don't depend on breakfast or reception hours. The rooms are clean, spacious and ideal for couples and families.
Residence Liberty (http://www.residenceliberty.it) As the name suggests, this residence is decorated in Liberty style, with floral motifs, elegant women painted and ancient towns painted on the walls. The rooms are considerably spacious, equipped with private kitchenette (as welcome gift, you'll find some Guatemala coffee and a few biscuits), television and free wifi. Used in particular by the staff of RAI (the Italian state television), it's ideal for independent and easy going travellers. Great staff!
Apartments Old Town (http://www.apartmentsoldtowntrieste.it) Modern and fully equipped apartments with an excellent location! Personally, I find that here you can find excellent deals and that -considering how nice the apartments are- great value for money.
WHAT TO DO
San Giusto Church & Castle (http:www.turismofvg.it) The church of San Giusto martyr is a little jewel located on the top of a small hill. This is really a must have experience and, since you have walked so far, do visit the castle and fortress (the ticket is only 3 euros). The church is a true gem, in Romanic style with the side chapels decorated with golden mosaics made by Byzantine workers and similar to the ones we have in Venice. The fortress, which was erected by the Venetians, has a huge terrace on top and the view is amazing!
Museo Revoltella (http://www.museorevoltella.it) Museum of modern art with a beautiful terrace on the top floor from where you can admire a stunning view of the city and the sea. The collection showcases mainly Italian artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries. A curiosity: it was restored by Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa!
Just behind the city centre, you can see the remains of an ancient Roman theatre. The best time to go if you want to take some nice pics -in my opinion- is in the afternoon, when the light is right and adds extra value to this amazing place.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Torrefazione La Triestina (http://www.torrefazionelatriestina.it) Well... when in Italy do as the Italians! This historical cafeteria is probably the best place for an espresso. Don't ask me why, but be aware that ordering coffee in Trieste requires a little knowledge, for example when you ask for a cappuccino they'll ask you if you want it small or large, small meaning a macchiato (espresso stained with hot foamy milk if hot or with a drop of milk if cold) and large meaning a normal capuccino. La Triestina is a standing-only bar, great for quality coffee lovers and kids willing to buy candies and sweets!
Adoro Cafè (Facebook page) Modern cafeteria with a bright and minimal design, where it's possible to have a relaxed breakfast and also an easy and budget lunch (sandwiches, salads and so on). The staff is very friendly and we enjoyed a slow-paced breakfast reading the papers and leafing through magazines, Vito sipping his cappuccino and croissant and myself a freshly squeezed fruit juice. Lovely design!
Draw (Facebook page) Cocktail bar and restaurant specialising in raw food (veg, fish and meat). Frequented by a youngish public, it's very lively and always crowded with people. I greatly appreciated the modern design, with plants and fancy details all over the place, and would recommend it as a pre and post dinner spot for drinks.
Mimì & Cocotte (Facebook page) I absolutely LOVE this place!!!! It's definitely one of my favourite restaurants and eateries in Trieste and if I lived there I would undoubtedly be a regular customer. Giovanna, the manager, is a lovely woman full of enthusiasm and attentive to all the small details. Modern design, recycled (but very very fancy) wooden tables, design objects (we recognised the Geloso recorder! We have one at home too), books, beautiful photographs and excellent food. Her cooking style is similar to mine, based on simple and fresh ingredients yet very flavoursome. It's possible to have breakfast and brunch and also lunch and dinner. We went for lunch and enjoyed some mixed crostini to start, mine with creamed mackerel with horseradish (OMG, they were sooooo good) and Vito's with burrata, anchovies and lemon zests (these were no less, trust me!) and then I had a salad with mackerel, potatoes, olives and red onions while Vito had a boiled tripe salad (just for you to know, tripe is everything but fat).We were enthusiastic about everything, simple but good. It's a great place also for vegetarians and vegans and from September the menu will change slightly and will include Buddha bowls and other things like that. Highly recommended!
Osteria Salvagente (Facebook Page) A place that has been open forever! A typical osteria offering traditional seafood food and with a great value for money. It was closed this time, but I assure you that if you are the sort of person who enjoys easy going places but don't want to give up quality and freshness, this is the place to go!
Ai Fiori (http://www.aifiori.com) Elegant fish restaurant where we enjoyed a fancy dinner. Just one word: excellent. First we were brought a little amuse bouche with a corn cream and a steamed prawn, lovely. To start we shared a raw fish dish with a tuna and a sea-bass tartare, oysters, red prawns and a croaker fish carpaccio -everything was super fresh and required only a few drops of oil to be enhanced even more- and a surprisingly good octopus, which had been baked at low temperature for some hours, then grilled and served on a burrata cream with toasted fava beans (this dish was so impressive I want to learn how to make it). As main courses, Vito had fried sardines while I had tagliolini with clams and bottarga. Do I need to add more? Exquisite!!!! Simply delicious, really. With regard to wine, Vito had a couple of glasses of Vitoska and I had an excellent Merlot Vigna Traverso. To finish, we shared a Calvados and were offered some super tasty biscuits. With regard to the price, overall we spent 80 euros (40 each), which is very good value for money for that type of quality and service. Highly recommended.
Pepi Sciavo (http://www.buffetdapepi.it) A traditional osteria renowned for the typical prosciutto di Trieste. You will find lots of local elderly men (remember, this is always a good sign in Italy) and other locals. It's possible to enjoy a quick cicheto standing or sit for a proper meat based lunch.
WHERE TO SHOP
VUD (www.vud-design.com) Really cool design shop managed by a couple, Rosa and Filippo, who work wood and ceramics. You will find elm, oak, chestnut, walnut and pear cutting boards, objects and accessories for the house and beautiful ceramic bowls. (BTW, there are a couple of shops in Venice that have their objects and I will let you know very soon because I'm drafting an essential Venice guide, but it will take a little while). I found the shop and lab incredibly fascinating and would have bought everything (but I refrained myself and only go a bowl...).
Just wander about the streets of the centre, close to Piazza della Borsa there are the fancy clothing boutiques, while on the side streets you will find lots of second hand books and antiquities shops!
Below, some pics of our weekend...