The smalles province of all but certainly not the most unimportant one.
The province of Trieste
TRIESTE AND ITS PROVINCE. GUIDED TOUR OF TRIESTE
The province of Trieste is not only the smallest province of the region but also the smallest province in the whole of Italy! This has not always been this way. Trieste only belonged to Italy after the end of the First World War. Before that it was part of the Habsburg Empire (later Habsburgse- Hungarian Empire) starting from the middle of the 14th century. Between the First and Second World War the province of Trieste included a large part of the present neighbor area Istria.
However, this part had to be returned to the former Yugoslavia after the Second World War.
What has remained is, you may say, 'small but beautiful' and certainly worth visiting. Not only for the culture but also to see with your own eyes what the karst landscape looks like. This province has a highly calcareous soil which ensures that there are no surface rivers here (with the Rosandra river as an exception), visitable in the nature reserve Val Rosandra. this special characteristic of the soil has shaped and formed several caves in this area.
The giant cave "Grotta Gigante", is the most famous one . The Karst landscape provides a rugged landscape with white rocks and cliffs that has also affected the kind of flora and fauna because not all plants and animals can live here. Especially along the coastline, this landscape offers spectacular views. The province has no sandy beaches but only pebble ones. Driving your car directly over the cliffs along the coastline is absolutely a feast for the eyes.
The main attraction is of course Trieste the capital of the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, also known as the Vienna by the sea. In addition, the castles Duino and Miramare, both built on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, are well worth a visit. From Duino you can make a beautiful walk on the 2 km. path that leads you right along the coastline. It's called the 'Sentiero di Rilke' which will surprise you with great views overlooking the sea. What remains to visit is what we call the 'Sister of Venice', the port town of Muggia. The last town in Italy before you drive into Slovenia and where it seems like you are walking through the alleys of the real Venice.
As I mentioned earlier, Trieste is also called the 'Vienna by the Sea', you notice here very well the influences of the Viennese Neoclassical architecture style that was so popular in Austria int the 18th century. This is because Trieste from the end of the 14th century until the end of the First World War belonged to the Habsburg Empire.
Only in the 18th century, the city began to play a really important role. In this century Venice lost more and more of its power and the former Habsburg Emperor Charles VI, decided to exploit the weakness of Venice by establishing the 'Porto Franco'- a free port of Trieste in 1719. This meant that no tax had to be paid for the imported goods. So it was financially very attractive to settle in Trieste. In no time the city began to expand.
CASTELLO MIRAMARE AT GRIGNANO
The white fairytale castle gets its name from its location. Miramare - overlooking the sea.
The mid 18th century castle was built by the Habsburg Archduke Maximilian of Austria. He has known some happy years here in the beginning of his marriage with his wife Charlotte, the Belgian princess. Their happiness came to an end when Maximilian was sent to Mexico to become the Mexican Emperor. This story has no happy ending because unfortunately he was killed there by the Republican supporters. His sister in law, Sissi, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph came here regularly on a visit.
CASTELLO DI DUINO AND THE KARST ROCK LANDSCAPE 'IL CARSO'
Actually you can find two castles in the village of Duino. Both are built on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, but that's where the similarity ends. The 'youngest' dates from the 15th century, while his older brother, was built about 400 years earlier. Of the oldest one only remains a ruin and a legend. The legend of "la dama bianca" - the white lady.
In the early years of the 20th century, the 'youngest' castle was a playground for famous persons from the art and literary world who came here as guests. The most famous one is the writer Rainer Rilke who was inspired by the castle in his work. His name was given to the nearby path, 'il Sentiero Rilke', an exquisitely beautiful trail of 2 km. which runs right along the coastline facing the sea. While walking you can enjoy the view of the Adriatic sea and with clear weather you can see the coastline of Slovenia and the Gulf of Trieste. You are surrounded by a big variety of flora and fauna that grows well in and on the karst rocks.
Muggia is the last port town in northeastern Italy. If you drive a little further then you arrive in Slovenia. If you stroll through the town then it seems like you are walking in Venice. How did that happen? Well because in 1420 the Republic of Venice decided to occupy this town. They had already taken Friuli but couldn't get a grip on the 'Venezia Giulia' part of this region because of the powerful position of the Austrian earls and the House of Habsburg.
That is why the cities of Trieste and the County of Gorizia were still in Austrian hands. Muggia, because of its position near the sea, was plagued continually by pirates and the nearby city of Trieste who wanted to use its port and salt banks. Muggia therefore decided to surrender to Venice in exchange for protection.