An ancient city at the crossroads of empires, medieval castles, beautiful parks, a world class research institute and home to the some of the best coffee brands in the world, this is the wonderful city of Trieste, Italy on the Adriatic coast. I have had the good fortune to visit and spend several months here over the past decade, while visiting the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).
International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP):
Founded in 1964 the ICTP was the culmination of Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam’s (of the Salam-Weinberg theory fame) vision of establishing a center for training scientists from the developing world. What started as a theoretical physics center, now provides a platform for applied and pure mathematicians as well, which is how I got to spend time at the institute.
The institute has a central academic building which houses auditoriums, labs, faculty offices and a central cafeteria plus two residential buildings, Galileo and Adriatico Guesthouses. Adriatico actually overlooks the Adriatic and has spectacular views though the views from the other guesthouse are nice as well. Staying and working at the ICTP is an experience, from interacting with scientists from all over the world, to the leisurely dinner on the terrace of the Adriatico I spent some very memorable days there.
Had the good fortune to explore some of the restaurants and parks in the city. Some of the recommended places I tried out were Principe de Metternich at Grignano, Berriera Frost near Statzione Centrale, Beefed at Barcola, and of course Pizzeria Da Gino (with its very interesting oven) near Piazza Girabaldi.
During one of the visits I rented an apartment near via Conti, which allowed me to get a better feel for the city, as compared to living in the guesthouse at the ICTP which is a few kilometers away from the main town. There are several nice and quaint parks scattered throughout Trieste, including the gardens of the Castello Miramare (open to the public).
Another unique feature here is the funicular train that runs from Trieste to the village of Opicina. I visited this nice cosy village several times and spent many a relaxed afternoons chilling at one of the trattorias or a bar there. Since Opicina right by the border with Slovenia, one sees a mixture of the two cultures here.
From Trieste, one can either take the funicular or a bus to Opicina or trek though a vary picturesque hike to get to the village. Whatever route you take there is great food waiting at the other end for you!
Another interesting trip I made was to the town of Tarvisio in the Italian Alps. The town has been around since ancient times and has a tourist centered economy now. There was a festival going on when I visited, lots of good food and music. An old church at Mount Lussari, accessible from the town by cable car, is a pilgrimage sight and worth the visit.
Having visited the area several times and having spent several weeks there, I have very fond memories of the place. Hopefully sometime in the near future I will be back….till then….ciao bella