Trieste, Italy

A touch of Austria in Italy

IL Palazzo del Governo, Piazza Unita

Trieste is one of my many homes around the world, I use it as a base when travelling in Europe and I've watched it being slowly restored to its former grandeur. The city was at its peak during the time it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and it was the major port for the Empire. (Having done some research I found out the in the 19th century it was the fourth largest city of the Empire after Vienna, Budapest and Prague! Quite a stunning group of cities!) However Trieste went into decline and during the later part of the 20th Century was quite rundown. By the turn of the 21st Century the restoration of the city began and now the city centre is a fabulous area to explore.

Piazza Unità is the large square that faces the sea. It was constructed during the Austrian era and marks the end of the old Italian (Venetian) town and the beginning of the newer Austrian section. The buildings that border the square all have to do with the government local and provincial and but one is a shipping company's, highlighting the importance of the shipping industry to the city.

Looking into Piazza Unità from the sea, the building at the far end is the Town Hall, the Lloyd Triestino (shipping company) building is on the right. Over the past 20 years I watched the facades of each of these buildings get restored! The piazza as well, the 2 long thin pillars are topped with a trident, which is the symbol of Trieste. (Couldn't get them in the picture!)

The piazza is the location of Caffè degli Specchi, the only cafe left from the four that were to be found in the piazza during the Austrian era. The cafe dates back to 1839, it was a centre of 19th century cafe society, there were concerts and it was an important gathering place for the 'intelligentsia'. While it's lovely to sit outside and watch the world go by, the restored inside harks back to the Austrian Empire days. (The cafe has also been restored, the wide blinds coming from the building offer a bit more protection from the elements)

From the piazza it's possible to walk out onto a stone pier, it's called Molo Audace, originally Molo San Carlo as it was built on the wreck of the ship the San Carlo.The pier was built between 1743 and 1751.It was renamed 'Audace' in 1922 after the destroyer Audace, the first ship of the Italian navy to arrive in Trieste in November 1918 (so the end of World War I) when Austria was broken up and Trieste given to Italy. The name has stayed and it's a place to stroll and meet friends and get some air.

The pier is occasionally used for ships to moor to, however during the annual 'Barcolana' the regatta that's held in Trieste in the early autumn, the pier is in full use. That's it in the background with the boats alongside, I happen to be in Trieste for last year's Barcolana.

Opposite Piazza Unità, with the pier in the background are these statues. The statue is dedicated to the bersaglieri who arrived at the end of World War I. The statues to the right are the 'Le mule di Trieste' the 'Girls of Trieste' (Mule di Trieste is a popular folk song) I cropped the picture as there were a group of middle school boys on a school trip messing around.

The boys had gone so safe to take a picture! The girls are sewing the tricolour Italian flag to give to the bersaglieri. I thought the bersaglieri statue was quite old but both statues were placed in their current location in 2005 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Trieste being returned to Italy after World War II. (It had a period of time of being the Free City of Trieste, run by an Anglo-American force)

The old Stock Exchange building, the commodity exchange was founded in 1755 by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and it's one of the oldest in the world. The triangular shaped building to the right has a sign saying 'borsa' stock exchange I've always thought that was the exchange building! Perhaps a newer late 19th, early 20th century one? The fountain has Neptune holding his trident, Trieste's symbol.

Just along from the old stock exchange building is another beautiful, recently restored (2011) building the Palazzo dei Tergesteo. It was built between 1840 and 1842 and conceived to have a commercial area on the ground floor, with the upper floors to house offices and appartments. The ground floor now houses restaurants, the arcade links the Piazza della Borsa with the Verdi Theatre.

Many of the small city streets have now been turned into pedestrian zones so it makes walking around really pleasant.

The newer Austrian era parts of the city have some substantial buildings such as this one, which are banks. The piazza infront, now gets used mainly for parking! I can remember it being a very busy outdoor market and during the Barcolana it was again full of market traders. Mainly food stalls.

Trieste has seen an influx of summer cruise ships and that has livened up the businesses in the centre of the city. The cruise ships come right up to opposite Piazza Unità as Trieste is a deep water port. The bows of some of the ships come over the road! It's wonderful to see the city being brought back to its best, its history makes it very different from other cities in Italy.