There is no beach to speak of in Trieste – Italy -. This hillside town in the north-east corner of Italy, bordering Slovenia and looking out over the stunning Gulf of Trieste, has waves that crash ceaselessly against its sea wall; a traffic thoroughfare runs right along the front. This doesn’t stop the locals – Triestinis, as they call themselves – from sunbathing.
In Trieste City : Their love of the sun is much joked about and, come the first rays in February, they lie in rows on the tiny strip of tarmac between motorway and ocean. People get hurt. Not the sunbathers, generally, but young men on scooters who get distracted by all the bikinis. Even if you speak Italian, you’ll need to learn the local lingo. Here, a ‘nero’ will get you a black coffee (everywhere else this would be red wine); a ‘macchiato’, a huge vat of coffee and milk (what we know as a ‘macchiato’ is a ‘capo’). This is a small but significant example of the divide Triestinis like to maintain with the rest of Italy.
Principal among these is Maximilian Joseph, brother of Austrian emperor Franz Joseph and later Emperor of Mexico. His castle, Miramare (Viale Miramare), north of the main town, is arguably the town’s most beautiful attraction. The castle is perched dramatically on a cliff edge. It is said that Maximilian fell in love with the cove when he was shipwrecked there. Later, it became the fortress of invading Nazis; later still the base of New Zealand liberators, and site of many a raucous party. These days, summer concerts take place in the courtyard, possibly one of the most stunning music venues in the world.