26 October 2016

Trieste becomes part of Italy

Fascinating city retains influences from past rulers

The harbour of Trieste in 1885, when it was still under the control of Austria
The harbour of Trieste in 1885, when it was still under
the control of Austria
The beautiful seaport of Trieste officially became part of the Italian Republic on this day in 1954.

Trieste is now the capital of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, one of the most prosperous areas of Italy.

The city lies towards the end of a narrow strip of land situated between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia and it is also just 30 kilometres north of Croatia.

Trieste has been disputed territory for thousands of years and throughout its history has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of the Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures.

Remnants of Trieste's Roman past are still visible
Remnants of Trieste's Roman
past are still visible
It became part of the Roman Republic in 177 BC and was granted the status of a Roman colony by Julius Caesar in 51 BC.

In 788 Trieste was conquered by Charlemagne on behalf of the French but by the 13th century was being occupied by the Venetian Republic.

Austria made the city part of the Habsburg domains in the 14th century but it was then conquered again by Venice. The Hapsburgs recovered Trieste in the 16th century and made it an important port and a commercial hub.

Trieste fell into French hands during the time of Napoleon but then became part of Austrian territory again.

Italy annexed Trieste at the end of the First World War after finishing on the winning side. By the 1930s, thousands of the resident Slovenians had left Trieste to go and live in either Yugoslavia or South America.

During the Second World War the city was occupied by German troops but after briefly being occupied by communist Yugoslavia it was taken back by the Allies in 1945 and came under a joint British and US military administration.

Trieste today is a busy city of many dimensions
Trieste today is a busy city of many dimensions
In 1947 the Paris Peace Treaty established Trieste as free territory. It was divided into two zones, one governed by American troops and one by Yugoslav troops. In 1954 the city of Trieste and part of the zone governed by the Americans was given back to Italy and the territory in the other zone was given to Yugoslavia.

The final border with Yugoslavia was settled in 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo and this is now the present day border between Italy and Slovenia.

Today, Trieste is a lively and cosmopolitan city and a major centre for trade and ship building.

In 2012, Lonely Planet called Trieste ‘the world’s most underrated travel destination’.

Inside one of Trieste's typical cafés
Inside one of Trieste's typical cafés
It is a fascinating place to visit because of the Venetian, Slovenian, Austrian and Hungarian influences in the architecture, culture and cuisine.

As well as Italian, the local dialect Triestino is spoken along with Slovenian, German and Hungarian.

If you stroll along the sea front you experience the atmosphere of being in a major Italian port and there are many excellent fish restaurants to try. Away from the sea you will find restaurants serving traditional Italian, Friulian, Slovenian, Hungarian and Austrian dishes.

Look out for Tocai Friulano, sometimes just labelled Friulano, which is a good quality, local white wine.

Travel tip:

When in Trieste, visit one of the typical coffee houses that date back to the Hapsburg era, such as Caffe Tommaseo, the oldest café in the city. Or, find out why Irish writer James Joyce enjoyed living in Trieste for so many years by dropping into his favourite bar, Caffe Pirona.

Trieste's Canal Grande has echoes of Venice
Trieste's Canal Grande has echoes of Venice
Travel tip:

You could imagine yourself to be in Venice if you linger at a table outside one of the bars or restaurants at the side of Canal Grande, an inlet in the centre of Trieste with moorings for small crafts that is reminiscent of the Grand Canal.

More reading

Writer from Trieste immortalised by James Joyce in his epic novel Ulysses

The fall of the Republic of Venice


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