Never heard of it? This is Italy with a twist. Teetering on the very northern border where Italy meets Slovenia, Trieste is an intoxicating mixture of Mediterranean sparkle, Eastern European nostalgia and Italian elegance. With one foot still set in history, but with the gaze to the future, this town is the ideal escape if you’re looking for something a little bit different. Here we give you the lowdown on what to see and do.
Start at Piazza dell’ Unita and have a look a the Teatro Romano, which dates back to 100AD before heading up the hill to the 600 year old Castello di San Giusto. Tiny alleys and crumbling stone steps are actually quite fun to scamper around and if you can clamber up a bit higher, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. A bit further along is the Cattedrale di San Giusto. The two most special features of this modest basilica are the Gothic doorway (made of reclaimed wood from a Roman burial ground), as well as the glistening mosaics in the apses.
The Grotta Gigante is an eerie underground cavity which is so large, it could even swallow St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Guides can take you through the maze of walkways, where you can see stalactites and stalagmites that are thousands of years old. Now from the depths of the earth to the highest reaches; jump on the funicular from Piazza Oberdan for a charming ascent to the Carso Plateau. Wine lovers should follow the trail to osmizzas, where farmers serve their wine direct to visitors paired with hearty bites to eat.
Just 10 minutes from Trieste, clinging to the edge of a steep cliff is the 14th century Castello di Duino which boasts 18 opulent rooms still brimming with valuable pieces of the Empires of old. If that’s not your thing, then hop on a ferry for the short ride to Muggia. The quaint seaside village was once part of the Venetian Empire and today ancient stone buildings stand sturdy around the pretty marina and pristine beaches.
Do you have a favourite ‘undiscovered’ town in Italy? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ box!
*Featured image: Roberto Taddeo.