The province of Trieste is located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste and throughout history it has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of Germanic, Latin and Slavic cultures. Trieste enjoys a beautiful natural location, as it is surrounded by the Carsic hills and the Adriatic Sea.
The province is located in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy and was first established in 1920. It contained the current territory of the province, as well as, significant portions of the Kras plateau and the region of Inner Carniola in present-day Slovenia. After the end of World War II, the Free Territory of Trieste was established as a free state. In 1954, Italy and Yugoslavia came to an understanding and the territory was divided between the two states. Zone A of the free state became the new Province of Trieste and Zone B was administered by Yugoslavia. The Province of Trieste formally became a part of Italy on 11 October 1977, by the Treaty of Osimo.
Trieste is composed of several different climatic zones according to the distance from the sea and/or elevation. The average temperatures are 6 °C (43 °F) in January and 24 °C (75 °F) in July. The climate can be severely affected by the Bora, a northern to north-eastern wind that can reach speeds of up to 124 miles (200 kilometers) per hour.
The Italian language is spoken within the whole province. In the city of Trieste, many people speak Triestine, a dialect of Venetian. Besides standard Slovene, which is taught in Slovene-language schools, three different Slovene dialects are also spoken in the Province of Trieste.
Trieste was one of the oldest areas of the former Hapsburg Monarchy (1382-1918) and it was one of the most important ports in Europe. As a prosperous seaport in the Mediterranean region, Trieste became the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (after Vienna, Budapest and Prague) and was also known as an important hub for literature and music.
Trieste, which probably dates back to the protohistoric period, was enclosed by walls built in 33–32 BC by the Roman Emperor Octavian. Roman influence continued during the 1st and 2nd centuries. A Roman theater lies at the foot of the San Giusto hill, facing the sea and much of the theater is made of stone. The statues that adorned the theater are now preserved at the Town Museum.
Along the coast, one can admire three ancient castles and the city center boasts Venetian influences, complete with calli (narrow streets) and campielli (small squares) and a majestic cathedral. The Castello Miramare, or Miramare Castle, was built between 1856 and 1860 from a project by Carl Junker working under Archduke Maximilian. The Castle gardens provide a setting of beauty with a variety of trees, chosen by Maximilian. Today, the gardens include: two ponds, one noted for its swans and the other for lotus flowers, a bronze statue of Maximilian and a small chapel.
Since the 1970s, Trieste has had a huge economic boom, thanks to a significant commercial shipping business. Trieste is also Italy’s and the Mediterranean’s (and one of Europe’s) greatest coffee ports, as the city supplies more than 40% of Italy’s coffee. Coffee brands, such as Illy, were founded here and are headquartered in the city. Currently, Trieste is one of Europe’s most important ports and centers for trade and transport.
The cuisine in Trieste Province is rich and varied, due to Austrian, Venetian and Friulian influences and quite distinct from the rest of Italy. After years under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many parts of this region prepare hearty cabbage soups and delicate pastries. Bean soup with sauerkraut is typically served as an antipasto. Frico, another antipasto, consists of shredded cheese with a bit of flour that is baked or fried until crisp.
White fish soup (made with mullet, bream, flounder, etc) is cooked in a cast iron pot with a little oil, whole garlic cloves and fish flavored with white vinegar and black pepper. Pickled turnips are used to accompany roasted or boiled meats. They are made by cutting turnips into small slices and slow cooking them in a pan with olive oil, bay leaves and a piece of pork. Polenta is cooked with cheese and ravioli are made with a potato, cinnamon, raisins and a herbs. In Trieste, lasagna is kept simple and sprinkled with a special sauce made with butter, sugar and poppy seeds.
Desserts include strudel made from a thin layer of dough rolled around a sweet or savory filling and they are either baked or boiled. Gubana, “guba” meaning “piega” (to fold) in Italian, is a very traditional pastry that somewhat resembles strudel and usually comes with a minced apple and grappa filling. Presnitz is a dessert of puff pastry rolled up with walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, figs, prunes, apricots, raisins, grated chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and rum filling. Legend has it that a Trieste baker invented this cake in honor of Princess Sissi of Austria. The cake is popular during Christmas time.
Wines are mostly white and remarkable for the number of grape varieties that are used in their blends, like Refosco, Terrano, Malvasia, Tocai and Rebula. Italy’s popular grappa, distilled from the skins, seeds and stems of many types of grapes left over after wine making, is also produced here. Beer is popular here also. Many Italians, especially in the northeast, finish off their meal with a glass of distilled grappa.
Jota (Bean and Sauerkraut Soup)
- 10 ounces dried cranberry (borlotti) or kidney beans
- 1/2 pound pork shoulder, trimmed and cubed or 1 ham hock
- 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3 quarts cold water
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- Sea salt to taste
- 10 ounces sauerkraut, drained
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Place the cranberry beans in a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain.
In a large Dutch Oven or soup pot bring the cranberry beans, pork, bacon, onion, water, garlic, bay leaves and salt to a boil. Cover and simmer until the beans are just tender, about 1 hour.
Rinse sauerkraut thoroughly in a large bowl of cold water, then drain in a colander and rinse again. Add the drained sauerkraut and potatoes to the pot with the beans. Continue simmering, partially covered, until the potatoes are soft when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 30-45 minutes. Discard bay leaves before serving. Garnish with parsley.
Goulash (Gulash) Trieste style
- 800 g (1 3/4 lb) stewing beef (chuck), cubed
- 800 g (1 3/4 lb) onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Italian diced tomatoes
- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Saute the onions in oil in a large saucepan, over low heat. Add the meat with the herbs and simmer until the meat begins to brown.
Dissolve the paprika in a little warm water and add it with the tomatoes along with enough warm water to make enough liquid to just cover the meat.
Season with salt and simmer over very low heat, covered, for an hour or until the meat is very tender. Serve over polenta.
Brodetto alla Triestina (Trieste-style fish stew)
- 1 ½ pounds cleaned, whole sea bass, without the head, tail and fins, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 2 pounds cleaned, whole striped bass, without the head, tail and fins, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- ¾ pound cleaned squid, cut into 1 inch rings
- 2 eight-ounce lobster tails in the shell, each cut into four pieces
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cups finely chopped onions
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 4 cups fish stock
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- Salt, if desired
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 medium-size shrimp, shelled and deveined,
- 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 14 mussels, scrubbed
Heat the oil in a very large pot with a heavy bottom and, when it is hot and almost smoking, add the onions. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Arrange the pieces of sea bass, striped bass and lobster tails in the pot. Cook, turning the pieces occasionally, over high heat for three minutes. Add the vinegar and stir. Cover and cook about one minute.
Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer. Cover. Cook five minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and cover. Cook three minutes.
Add the squid, salt and pepper to taste and partly cover the pan. Let cook eight minutes.
Add the shrimp, clams and mussels and cook five minutes longer or until the mussels and clams open. Serve immediately.
Trieste Chocolate Mousse Cake
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 4 eggs, separated
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 4 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the cake:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a jelly roll (baking) pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add cooled melted chocolate and beat in egg yolks one at a time.
In a separate medium bowl, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt until the whites cling to the beater. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Then, carefully, fold in the remaining whites. Sprinkle the flour over the batter and, carefully, fold it in without decreasing the volume.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake 12-15 minutes, or until cake starts to pull away from the sides. Do not overbake. This makes a thin cake layer.
Cool a few minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto the rack. Remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.
For the filling:
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in the microwave or in a saucepan and pour over the chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 10 minutes.
Add rum and vanilla and stir until smooth. Refrigerate 1 hour. When cold, whip the filling until its volume has doubled.
Cut the cake in half and place one half on a rack. Spread the filling over the cake and top with the remaining cake half. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the glaze:
Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwaveable bowl. Heat on full power 1 minute. Add vanilla and stir until completely melted and smooth. Let cool 10 minutes.
Set the rack holding the cake over a pan or wax paper to catch the drips. Holding the glaze 2 inches above the cake, pour the glaze evenly, using a spatula to cover the sides, if necessary.
Refrigerate 20 minutes or until the glaze is set. This cake is very rich. Cut it into small squares. Refrigerate leftovers.