Trieste is the ideal city to be visited in the summer, magically suspended between the blue of the sky and the sea: once one of the most important ports in Europe, today it is the perfect destination for a weekend between castles overlooking the cliffs and grand hotels with a Central European charm.
In Roman times one of the most important commercial ports in Italy, Trieste became a free port in 1719 under the rule of Austria, assuming a role of enormous strategic importance for the Empire, as it was its only outlet to the sea.
Thanks to the development of the naval industry, and therefore of the international exchanges of those years, the city benefited from large investments and became the capital of the trade of many products, such as coffee; activities thanks to which the first banks and insurance companies were born, including the famous RAS Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà founded in Trieste in 1838.
Trieste is a beautiful, marvelous city; all seaside cities are beautiful, but Trieste is particularly so because it is right, abruptly on the sea.
Our weekend begins right here, in what is one of the most important buildings in the city: the majestic palace, inaugurated as the RAS headquarters in 1914, which houses the DoubleTree by Hilton Trieste hotel. Reopened to the public in 2019 after a long restoration, the structure has seen, in particular, the revamping of all its precious areas with particular historical-artistic value.
The hotel, a true “museum” of Trieste’s history that tells all the splendor of one of Italy’s most important insurance dynasties, houses 125 design rooms inspired by the maritime life of the city port and the style of its yachts. The historic suites are truly remarkable, unique in the world, as they keep intact all the charm of the early 19th-century company’s offices and executive spaces, among stuccos and refined boiseries that belonged to the ancient library.
Two other treasures are also hidden inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Trieste, also open to non-guests of the hotel: the Berlam Coffee Tea & Cocktail, a magnificent literary café located in the hall on the first floor once dedicated to RAS’ executive meetings, and the Novecento restaurant, with a contemporary deco style, which offers traditional Trieste dishes with Austrian and Balkan influences.
The hotel, located in the center of the city, is the perfect starting point for exploring it. In the morning, you can start with a walk along the Grand Canal up to the magnificent Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia, where you can stop for a break at the Caffè degli Specchi and a traditional capo in bi (coffee with milk served in a small glass) or a gourmet lunch at Harry’s Bistrò, located just opposite.
In the afternoon, driving along the seafront that leads from the city center to Sistiana, you can visit the Miramare Castle and its beautiful garden, from which you can enjoy a romantic panorama. Built right on the cliff between 1856 and 1860, it was the legendary residence of Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg.
Upon returning, an aperitif at sunset at Pier The Roof is a must, the only bar and restaurant right “on the sea” in the center of Trieste, which offers a wonderful view of the docks of the city’s port, a few meters from Piazza dell’Unità d’Italia. Here, at the end of the 19th century, the first sailing clubs of Trieste arose and, right on the pier to the left of Pier The Roof, is the oldest sailing company in the Adriatic, sea the Yacht Club Adriatico founded in 1903.
Another area very popular in Trieste for an aperitif is Borgo di Città Vecchia where the district called Cavana is located. A name – which seems to derive from the “cavity” where the fishermen hauled their boats ashore – which reveals the origins of the area, once the very ancient port frequented by sailors.
Here we find many small places where to stop for a drink, including Al Ciketo with its typical wooden tables just perfect to socialize, and La Muta, a new cocktail bar inspired by the red-light history of the neighborhood (“la muta” is the nickname of one of the ladies of the brothels of the past), where you can get lost until late in the evening.
The next day you can visit Palazzo Revoltella, one of the most beautiful house museums in Italy. A protagonist of imperial Trieste, Pasquale Revoltella was born in 1795 and enjoyed a dazzling career that led him to become one of the first shareholders of Assicurazioni Generali and to build a dream residence in the center of the city.
Bequeathed to the Municipality, the Revoltella Museum now has two souls: the private residence of the baron, still furnished exactly as he had conceived it, and the modern art gallery which exhibits masterpieces by De Nittis, De Chirico, Guttuso, Pomodoro, and a magnificent selection of early twentieth-century artists active in Trieste, such as Timmel and Dudovich. On the top floor, there is a wonderful terrace which from 19 July hosts a café open until 11pm, from which a unique panorama that embraces the entire Gulf is revealed.
At the end of the visit you can have an informal lunch at Mimì e Cocotte, a bohemian bistro which also hosts exhibitions by young local artists. Returning to the DoubleTree by Hilton Trieste, you can visit another absolute novelty: it is the original ITS Arcademy – Museum of Art in Fashion which, starting in April 2023, offers the opportunity to visit the exhibition of “first works” by some of the most talented contemporary fashion designers from all over the world, who took part in the prestigious award held in Trieste.
In the evening, you can dine at Sal de Mar, a fish restaurant housed in an old Venetian fort on the sea in Muggia, 20 minutes from the center of Trieste, once used as a warehouse for salt coming from the Noghere salt pans.
And if you fancy a dip in the bluest sea, you can go to one of the “wild” beaches most loved by the locals, Le Ginestre, or, for a 5-star swim, you can opt for a day on the beach or in the poolside gazebos of Portopiccolo, a wonderful resort with a marina carved into the rock of the Sistiana Bay.
If you are staying at the DoubleTree Hilton Trieste, it is a must to “get lost” in its rooms, maybe requesting a tour from the hotel staff, and enjoying all its marvelous original decorations, such as the wrought iron friezes of the gates, handcrafted by the Calligaris company of Udine, the leaded glass engraved with the RAS logo and the wall clock inserted in the boiserie of the historic library.