Gorgeous seaside scenery, castles, caves, and of course the city itself: Trieste, nestled in Italy's northeast corner, might be a little out of your way, but here are a few reasons it's worth a visit.
The Passeggiata Rilke is arguably one of Italy's prettiest walks, a cliffside path with incredible views over the Sistiana bay. At just over a mile (or 1.7 km) long, the path starts in front of the tourist office in the town of Sistiana (just north of Trieste) and ends at the Duino castle, famous for its legend about an evil husband who threw his wife over the cliff. Before she hit the water, the gods turned her to stone, reminicent of a veiled lady who can be seen today.
The Castle of Miramare and its huge gardens were built for the Austrian Habsburgs a mere 150 years ago, making this a pretty new castle by Italian standards. Visit the inside of the castle or just wander through its English gardens, full of exotic plants.
The Roman Theater is one of Trieste's main attractions, so spend half a day on foot in this nice-sized city. Walk along the water's edge and down the big pier. Spend some time in the majestic Piazza Unita' d'Italia, and shop in the Borgo Teresiano or Chinatown area. Here's a good audioguide of Trieste.
The Gigantic Grotto (Grotta Gigante) is the world's largest tourist cave, big enough to house St. Peter's Basilica. Allow about an hour for a visit, and if you're really into caves (so to speak, hee hee) visit the Museum of Speleology, nearby.
You may notice foreign influences in Trieste that you haven't seen in the rest of Italy, and that's because of its proximity to Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. From a base in Trieste you can easily take a day trip to another country. The impressive Predjamski castle, built into a rock in Slovenia, is under an hour away.
Did I miss any of your favorite spots in or around Trieste?
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