Spending Two Days in Stormy Trieste and a Special Afternoon in Venice

Next stop, Trieste. Our European train trip took us from Ljubljana to Trieste. and then on to Bologna through Venice. We decided to spend a few nights in Trieste because we had never been there and it broke up the long train rides.

Getting to Trieste was only a short one-hour train ride from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The train station was quite nice and it even had a little conveyer belt to get our bags up to the platform. I saw it when we arrived but we didn’t try it, however, we did try it when faced with carrying the bags up the stairs. It worked great and saved Mike some lifting and sweating. The first-class compartment on the train was very plush and they even brought us water. Overall, a very pleasant trip.

Walking in Pretty Trieste

Trieste is a very old, pretty port city at the easternmost tip of Italy. I had thought it might be gritty but it was clear that the city was very rich from trading. From 1382 to 1918, Trieste was an autonomous region of the Austro-Hungarian empire and its primary port. It lies at the top of the Adriatic Sea, close to Slovenia (8km away) and Croatia (30km away). The city has long been a maritime gateway to Northern Italy, Germany, Austria, and central Europe. Its history and location make it a culturally diverse city with Latin, Slavic, and Germanic influences.

We took a free walking tour and learned some of the histories. Originally, the city was full of canals, like Venice and Amsterdam. But as the city’s wealth increased, the canals were filled in to make roads. The only evidence of the watery history is the small Grand Canal that runs from the sea to the middle of the old town and is lined with lovely cafes. For most of the last 2000 years, Trieste remained a free port and a valuable prize for whoever was ruling the continent.

A Storm is Coming

The walking tour left us in the huge Piazza Unita Italia, which is right on the sea facing west. While we were there, we saw a big storm coming in from the sea. The squall line was very impressive as a backdrop for the huge majestic square. We did manage to mostly outrun the torrential rain by finding a restaurant near our apartment. We only got a little wet. Speaking of restaurants, I was really looking forward to eating Italian food again, specifically pasta. So we spent our two days in Trieste enjoying traditional Italian food.

Going from Trieste to Bologna

Our trip to Bologna through Venice started with a taxi in Trieste. We learned that in Italy if you call a taxi the meter starts as soon as they answer the call. That made Mike unhappy, but we got to the train station quickly.

The train from Trieste to Bologna was a commuter train through Venice with no reserved seats. Because it was also a local it got more crowded as we approached Venice. When we arrived in Venice the scene was chaotic. The Italian train workers decided to go on strike from 9 to 5 that day, so many trains were “Cancellato”. As a result, people were scrambling to buy new tickets and figure out how they were going to get where they were going. It turns out there is a website to tell you what to do in the event of a strike since they are so common.

Luckily, we had chosen to book Venice to Bologna at 5:26 pm, i.e. after the strike, so our train was *probably* going. Going or not going, we could do nothing about so it wasn’t worth worrying about until we learned if our train was canceled or not.

A Few Hours in Venice

You can’t just take a train that passes by Venice without getting off to have lunch and spend an afternoon wandering around. We put our bags in storage and left the train station in much the same way as I had 40 years ago on my first visit to Venice. But I remembered the iconic stairs leading to the Grand Canal being bigger. So much for memories.

We decided to walk to St. Mark’s Square for about 30 minutes. En route, we got a nice, relatively inexpensive meal. We also enjoyed the canals, shops, and the Rialto bridge along the way. Tourism is alive and well in Venice, making our walk a bit difficult because of all the people. When we got to St. Mark’s Square, I wanted to sit at a café and watch the people.

St. Mark’s Square

We almost had a heart attack when we saw the café menu pricing. We decided to order a 10€ bottle of water, which was better than the 11€ can of Coke! After people-watching for a while, we walked over to the Duomo and the Doge’s Palace. The lines to get in were too long, so we didn’t have time to visit them anyway. After spending a few minutes taking in the Grand Canal on one side of St. Mark’s Square, we decided to walk back to the train station via a less crowded route.

The Trains Were Moving Again

When we got to the train station, we waited a while, watching the schedule board to see if our train was going to go. After a while, we learned that our train to Bologna was 15 minutes late, but the trains were moving again. The 1st class compartment was very nice and included snacks and a beverage. We had a pleasant ride to Bologna.

How would you spend just a few hours in Venice?

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  1. Where did you check your luggage in Venice? Last time I transited via Venice the best place I could find was at a gift shop to the left as you exit the station. It was OK though the shop closed several hours before my outbound train was scheduled to depart which cut into the luggage-freedom time. 24 hour access like self-serve lockers would be ideal but I could not find any.

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