This is the region that boarders on the Veneto Region (with the city of Venezia) and Slovenia to the east. It is the most north-east region in the country. The capital city is Trieste. The region at one time was included in the Republic of Venice. In 1797, however, Napoleon gave the area to the Austrians. It was not until the Third War of Italian Independence in 1866 that Friuli was united back with Italy. Of this area, it was after World War II that Italy kept Trieste but gave Dalmatia and the Istrian Penninsula to at that time, Yugoslavia. This military events have had a presence in the area.
In fact, when we visited this region in 2009 and I was at one of Trieste's top pen stores, and I asked which were the most popular pens in terms of sales, I was surprised to hear Parker mentioned. Usually Montblanc and other Italian companies would be listed. When I asked why, I was told that this was in part due to the influence of the US military for many years in the area. Allies left Trieste as late as 1954.
Most of what I call the classic architecture of Trieste actually is what is left of when the city was a major port for the Autro-Hungarian Empire during the 18th and 19th Centuries. That was good and bad news for Trieste as much of the old medieval area was replaced with buildings of that time. As a port, when Trieste became part of Italy, it was less important than other key ports that Italy has along its long coastline. It is a big port and it is an unloading point for tankers that supply a pipeline that serves Austria.
We stayed at a pleasant hotel, the Hotel Rivera and Maximillian about 7 km from the centre of town, located a short walk along the water from the Miramare Castle. From the hotel we walked to the marina, took a boat to town, or one of the frequent buses that made the trip in about twenty minutes.
We choose that location it was a better hotel than some of the downtown hotels and it was close to the Miramare Castle. The castle is one of the primary sights of the area.
Built between 1856 and 1860 it sites on a promontory with a commanding view of the sea. There is parking near with a pleasant walk along the coast to the castle. The castle is furnished and you can walk without guide through much of the first two floors.
Unfortunately the owner, Maximillian, accepted a proposal from the financiers of Napoleon III to become the emperor of Mexico in 1864. It was not a good decision and in the end he is shot by a firing squad after being in Mexico for only three years.
After that, his wife Carlotta had a breakdown and left the castle to live in Belgium for the next fifty years. So it was said the castle had a bit of a curse handing over it.
In Trieste itself, the Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia is the main centre of the town and is also one of the largest squares in Italy. The piazza faces the harbour and has the two old palaces, the Palazzo del Commune and the Palazzo del Governo along its sides.
When I was there, however, it was a cold morning and most was closed and there was little activity, but I can imagine that at the right time this piazza can hum.
It is a relatively short walk from the Canale Grande over to the Piazza Italia and walking through this area gives you the feel of Trieste. There are some pedestrian streets and lots of cafes.
Up on the Capitoline Hill is the Cathedral of San Giusto (pictured to the left) and it is worth the walk or a short bus ride to get to the top to see the Cathedral. There were two cathedrals one in the 11th century and one in the 14th century and they were joined.
Here also is the castle which dates back to the 15th century. It held an interesting exhibition of military armour and weapons.
I could not find the right bus so I walked it and took me by a couple of sights that I had marked to see. The Cathedral is closed from noon to around 3 pm so plan your walk at the right time.
The interior of the cathedral has mosaics and frescoes that date from the 12th and 13th century.
On your walk up or down you can pass by the Roman Theatre (pictured to the right) located on Via Teatro Romano, that dates from the 1st Century. By now I have seen a fair number of roman theatres and this one was only of passing interest.
So that was may day in Trieste. Wear good walking shoes as there is some climbing to do. A day in the city is more than enough. There are buses that can take you out to the Miramare Castle if you stay in the city.