Miramare and San Giusto Castles, Trieste

Sunday, July 28, 2019
Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
We awoke before 5am and couldn’t get back to sleep. We had had a good 7 hours sleep, and decided that that was probably enough. The bed was a little hard and so it was impossible to drift back to sleep. 
In Michael’s research, he had come across a nearby hotel that offered breakfast for 10 euros each (just over AU$15). Although we could easily have purchased supplies and made our own, the reviews were excellent, and as our accommodation cost only $100/night, Michael decided that we could afford to splurge, and so had pre-booked our breakfasts for two mornings. The only problem was that this place was rather difficult to find! Sharing my umbrella to shield us from the light rain, we wandered up and down the street looking for a door that might lead to a hotel. Eventually, Michael looked up the number on his iPad and we were able to locate the entrance. If you didn’t know, you would never suspect that upstairs inside was a small, but very flash, restaurant/bar. I imagine that it is mostly frequented by its hotel guests.
The beautifully presented breakfast deserves a mention — served on a two-tiered tray laden with fruit, toast, croissants, etc. with hard-boiled eggs on the side; and as many cappuccinos as we wished (even decaffeinated soy!). 
Breakfast (and lunch!) over, we returned to our apartment to deposit our iPads and check the ferry timetable, having decided that we should travel to Miramare Castle by boat in the morning. The rain had eased, but the forecast for the day wasn’t particularly good. With 20 minutes until the next ferry departure (and 1.5 hours until the one after that), we set off at a fast pace, stopping to purchase some bus tickets from a tobacconist along the way, having been told by the person in the tourist information office that you can’t buy them on board the bus. It was just as well we picked up the pace with a slow jog, as we made it with only a few minutes to spare — AND the ferry departed a minute BEFORE schedule (most unusual for Italy)!
The windy trip gave us a good view of Trieste and then Miramare Castle, even though everything did look a little flat due to the lack of sunshine. I decided to pay the extra 4 euros for the audio guide for our tour of the castle — it helps to have some understanding of what one is looking at, and the information boards in each room only provided minimal details. The castle was built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, later Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico. The ground floor was built for the family to live in and was designed to resemble the ship that the archduke had sailed in his expeditions around the world. It was surprising to see how his own bedroom was very small, with a lowered ceiling — to give the feel as if he were sleeping on his ship. He and his wife accepted the role of Emperor and Empress of Mexico, but were not welcomed by the locals. She returned to Italy with mental health issues, and he was executed — a sad ending to their story.
After wandering through some of the rambling garden, we found our way up to the main road, emerging on to it right near a bus stop with the bus we needed to catch pulling up within a minute — perfect timing!
We alighted at the railway station and headed over to the adjacent bus station where we purchased tickets for our trip to Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia) for the following afternoon. Then it was off to Aldi to buy some supplies for dinner, a stop-off at our apartment to freshen up. As we crossed the road from Aldi to our apartment, a convoy of police cars and motorcycles wizzed past us, with their sirens blaring. An official waving a red flag directed them down the road next to our building. Michael wanted to walk to our apartment entrance from the other direction, but I insisted we follow the police and see what was going on. As we walked down the road, I looked back and saw a mass of cyclists tearing down the road next to us. I just managed to video the stragglers, as they passed by so quickly. Michael felt we’d been in danger of the cyclists riding up on to the footpath and hitting us, but I am sure his fear was unfounded. I found it all quite exciting! I have no idea what the event was, but I had noticed a large banner and bicycle on display in front of the city square earlier in the day. It was obviously something like the Tour Down Under. (Unfortunately, I am unable to post my video, as the format I record in won’t import on to my iPad.)
 After a short stop at the apartment, we set off on foot in the rain that had now set in to visit the San Giusto Castle that overlooks the city. We visited all the museum rooms in the castle (the displays included weapons and remnants of stone statues, mozaic floors, plaques and pillars), peeked inside the adjacent basilica, and then checked out the Art & Culture Museum before wandering back to the city centre past the remains of an old city gate or part of an ancient aqueduct (no one knows for sure). 
My feet and legs were a little achy by the time we arrived back at our apartment. Michael cooked us a delicious meal of tortellini with a basil sauce and salad which tasted just as good as any restaurant meal, I’m sure — but at a fraction of the price. 
Exhausted, we crawled into bed at about 9pm.
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An interesting day. I did not, however, experience the sense of beauty in the architecture of Trieste and Miramare Castle in any way like the splendour of Venice. I would imagine that Emperor, Maximilian 1 and his wife did not feel any great joy in those surroundings either. Looking forward to your next report. XXX


Our hotel in Rome sounded much like your breakfast venue, just a door way that once inside opened up to an amazing area. Sounds like some lovely sights were seen despite a little rain all finish by a meal with chef Michael sounds delightful


Hi Dad — apparently, Maximilian and his wife owned a villa in Trieste, but upon returning from one of his sea voyages, Maximilian had to seek refuge from a storm in the cove next to the headland on which Miramare Castle stands. It is said that he was so taken by the beauty of this spot that he decided to build a new residence there. Given how much he loved the sea, the castle was designed so that most of the rooms had sea views. I’m not sure whether his wife shared the same appreciation for the location, but I guess she didn’t have any say in the matter.


Hi Tracy — it is indeed amazing at what can lie behind fairly ordinary looking doors. When we entered this one though, we were faced with an old lift and a flight of stairs — all very dark and foreboding. I can’t recall if there was even a sign indicating the existence of a hotel or dining area in the building. However, at the top of the stairs, we entered the very modern-looking hotel breakfast area. :-)