Sunday, 19th of February, 2017
Castello di Miramare
My exchange program took us out to Trieste for the day. We caught the train for nearly two hours in the morning and met our tour guide at the other end. A bus ride later we were at the edge of the Adriatic Sea, gazing across at Slovenia and the tip of Croatia. Down a walkway that hugged the coastline, standing atop a small cliff, was the Castello di Miramare.
As we know by now my photography skills are average at best. Luckily, a fellow exchange student has kicked off his own blog and he knows what he’s doing. So if you want good pictures of Europe, including some of this trip, I highly suggest checking out THIS WEBSITE HERE.
Moving on. Taking in the beautiful day, the town behind us and the crazy old man going for a swim in winter, we headed for the castle. We walked under a great stone archway and up a drive, on one side the sea and the other a forest. At the top was a courtyard with a fountain in it (anywhere Italy can put a fountain, it will). On one side the small castle clung to the cliff side and on the other a large expanse of walkways, forests and old buildings stretched. Here the tour guide told us of the couple who once lived there.
Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, lived there in the early 1860s while it was still being constructed. Because of the pressure of the Mexican monarchists and the French Maximilian took the throne to Mexico and lived in Mexico City with his wife for a few years. When the French withdrew their support and Maximilian refused to give up his throne Mexico had him imprisoned and executed. Charlotte returned to their home in Trieste to live a life of seclusion before throwing herself from the cliffs and into the sea. The castle is still haunted, cursing any happy couple who visits it.
Released to our own devices, we wandered the grounds in small groups. There is a small and overpriced café, what used to be a greenhouse, what used to be a church, where I think the couple lived during the very early stages of construction and lots of cats and trees.
Trieste City Centre
After the castle we were lead to the city centre and set lose for lunch. Thomas, whose blog I have directed you to, unwisely tried a nutella pizza. At least it’s not got pineapple on it, was all the Italians had to say about it.
There were lines of stalls set up selling baked goods, jewelry and second hand books, clothes and cheap masks. When we’d all had a chance to eat we met back up and the tour guide showed us around. There’s a roman theatre across the street from the questera (police station) which was dug up in 1938 and is now a proud part of their city. There is a statue of the famous Irish writer James Joyce strolling over a bridge and another of a man called Saba, who was in hiding during the second world war and owned a bookshop which still stands, holding onto the past.
One thing became clear during the tour. Much of the architecture in Trieste is copied, forgive me ‘inspired’, by other buildings. There is a church at the end of their canal that mimics the Parthenon. A large building at the head of the main square that has its own version of the clock in Venice’s Piazza San Marco. It seems nearly every important building was inspired by another. In the main square there is also the Fountain of the Four Continents. Each side is carved to represent a continent. When it was built in the early 1750s they didn’t know Australia existed.
We finished the day in the back room of a pub, talking over drinks. To my amazement people lit their cigarettes, filling the room with smoke. I was the only one to think how strange it was. Others said they remembered, or missed the experience in pubs back home, their country having banned it now. We all caught the train back and arrived quite late back in Udine, splitting into small groups for the walks home.