Trieste is a city in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Northeast Italy. Once a very influential and powerful center of politics, literature, music, art and culture under Austrian-Hungarian dominion, its importance fell into decline towards the end of the 20th century. Today, Trieste is often forgotten as tourists head off to the big cities. It is, however, a very charming underestimated city, with a quiet and lovely almost Eastern European atmosphere, pubs and cafes, some stunning architecture and a beautiful sea view. Trieste is the capital of the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia with 201,261 inhabitants. It is situated on the crossroads of several commercial and cultural flows: German middle Europe to the north, the Balkans to the east, Italy to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Its artistic and cultural heritage is linked to its “border town” location. You can find some old Roman architecture, Austrian Empire architecture similar to styles in Vienna, and a nice Mediterranean atmosphere. The region of Friuli Venezia Giulia is officially quadrilingual (Italian, Slovene, Friulian or Eastern Ladin, and German), but the city itself is generally Italian-speaking; the local dialect is a form of Venetian. Surrounding villages and towns are often inhabited by mostly Slovene speakers.
During the 1970s and 1980s Trieste was the number one shopping destination for tourists from Yugoslavia. Local cuisine reflects the living traditions of the many populations that have passed through over the centuries. In the city’s restaurants you can find delicious examples of the local Austrian and Slavic tradition. Trieste has a strong passion for coffee: its inhabitants’ consumption per person is 2 x the national average. Across the countryside you can find a local tradition called “osmica”. Osmicas are wineries predominatly located on the Karst Plateau, small beautiful farms where you’ll find different kinds of home-made salami, cheese and ham, and a characteristic red wine. Opened for only certain months of the year, they owe their Slovenian name to the word “osem” = “eight”, as under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, farmers were allowed to open them for only 8 days per year. Trieste has a reputation of being one of Italy’s safest cities, possibly due to it being a border city and therefore formerly full of border police and other security services.