Northern Italy – the Miramare Castle and Triest (July 2013)

So, after a pretty long break, here’s a new post, finally. It’s about a short trip we took to the beautiful city of Triest and the Miramare Castle, which is just a short drive outside the city. Since our girls love both castles and the seaside, this trip seemed like a perfect combination.

First things first – the Miramare Castle. It’s been built for Ferdinand Maximillian, a member of the Habsburg family, and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium in the mid-nineteenth century. It’s situated on a cliff a bit outside Triest, one of the largest harbour cities of the Northern Adriatic. It is open to public and the ticket costs merely €4 for adults and the admission is free for EU citizens up to the age of 18. The castle is surrounded by the beautiful botanical gardens overlooking the sea, a mixture of the Mediterranean plants and plants that had been brought from all around the world by one of the gardeners. If you happen to be in this area or are planning to visit it, I would recommend including the Castle into your trip.

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Along the road connecting the Castle with the city, there is a beautiful, long beach with lots of chic cafes and places to hang out. So, if you’re into taking a swim, you can do it right there, with the view of the castle.

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Triest, a large harbour city, is merely a short drive away. Although not as famous or attractive as the nearby city of Venice (which we’ve visited the previous year, please check the links on the right), it is definitely worth a visit. Once a lively merchant city, at the beginning of the twentieth century Triest has given refuge to many of the artists and writers, the most famous being James Joyce, who was permanently living in Triest, Paris and Zurich. Today, there are many signs of Joyce’s presence in the city and many restaurants and cafes boast being his favourite places.

We’ve dined at the Tommaseo, a mixture between a coffee house and a restaurant well known for its famous patrons from la Belle Époque, such as James Joyce and Sigmund Freud. Surprisingly, the prices were very reasonable, the food and wine were excellent and there’s even a children’s corner, where our girls spent some time after lunch reading, drowing and playing while my husband and me drank our coffee.

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Did you now that there’s Canale Grande in Triest as well? Here it is – it starts at the seafront and ends with the Catholic church Sant’Antonio Nuovo.

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Piazza della Unita d’Italia of the Italian’s Unity Square is the main square, housing palaces such as the City Hall. It is very large and I’m afraid I haven’t really managed to capture its size in my photos.

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A short walk through the busy streets will get you to the Roman Amphitheater from the 1st century AD. It is situated in the city centre and is currently being renovated.

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Now, it can’t all be perfect, can it? As we were tired from the sightseeing, we decided to sit down at a nice street cafe in the midst of the pedestrian zone, in one of those chic shopping streets filled with beautiful designer stores. Alas, the Caffe Stella Polare was a big mistake. I sat at the table with our younger daughter, while my husband and our older daughter went in to see what sorts of ice cream they offer. So, the two of us placed an order with a grumpy old waiter and when my husband and other daughter came back to the table, he simply didn’t want to take their order! He just ignored their attempts at talking to them either by looking through them or by turning his back. It was unbelievable and it was only when my husband, after twenty minutes of failed attempts to place an order, went inside and talked to someone else, that they’ve got what they wanted. So, unlike the Tommaseo, which I would gladly recommend, the Caffe Stella Polare is to be avoided.

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As the plate beside the entrance boasts, Joyce was a regular here as well and I think that I’ve discovered the secret to his long sentences; he was just immensely bored and had to do something with his time while he was waiting for his coffee.

However, the story with the arrogant waiter didn’t ruin our trip. We still had a great time, visited a lot of nice places and would love to return here. Triest is a very charming place.

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