This is the region that boarders on the Veneto Region (with the city of Venezia) and Slovenia to the east. It is the most north-east region in the country. The capital city is Trieste.
The region at one time was included in the Republic of Venice. In 1797, however, Napoleon gave the area to the Austrians. It was not until the Third War of Italian Independence in 1866 that Friuli was united back with Italy.
Of this area, it was after World War II that Italy kept Trieste but gave Dalmatia and the Istrian Penninsula to at that time, Yugoslavia.
When visited this region in 2009 and visitng one of Trieste's top pen stores, I was tgold the most popular brand of pens in terms of sales was Parker. Usually Montblanc and/or other Italian companies would be listed. When I asked why, I was told that this was in part due to the influence of the US military for many years in the area. Allies left Trieste as late as 1954.
Most of what I call the classic architecture of Trieste is from when the city was a major port for the Autro-Hungarian Empire during the 18th and 19th Centuries. That was good and bad news for Trieste as much of the old medieval area was replaced with buildings of that time. As a port, when Trieste became part of Italy, it was less important than other key ports that Italy has along its coastline. It still remains as a major port and is an unloading point for tankers that supply a pipeline serving Austria.
We stayed at a pleasant hotel, the Hotel Rivera and Maximillian about 7 km from the centre of town, located a short walk along the water from the Miramare Castle. From the hotel we walked to the marina, took a boat to town, or one of the frequent buses that made the trip in about twenty minutes. We choose that location as at the time it was better hotel than what we could fine in the city centre. We also wanted to be close to the Miramare Castle as it is one of the primary sights of the area. It was easy to get to the city town, on a return visit we would most likely stay more central.
In Trieste the Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia is the centre of the city and one of the largest squares in Italy. An outside table at Caffè degli Specchi is the spot to be. This cafe dates back to 1839. The piazza faces the harbour and has the two old palaces, the Palazzo del Commune and the Palazzo del Governo along its sides. On our visit in 2009 the weather was cool and most of the shops around the piazza closed. With little activity we could only imagine the buzz that would be here when it was active.
It's home to one of the largest synagogues in Europe, a relatively new mosque; and a 19th-Century Serbian Orthodox Church decorated with gold mosaics and spires.
It is a relatively short walk from the Canale Grande over to the Piazza Italia and walking through this area gives you the feel of Trieste. There are some pedestrian streets and lots of cafes.
Up on the Capitoline Hill is the Cathedral of San Giusto and it is worth the walk or a short bus ride to get to the top to see the Cathedral. There were two cathedrals one in the 11th century and one in the 14th century and they were joined. Here also is the castle which dates back to the 15th century. It held an interesting exhibition of military armour and weapons.
I could not find the right bus so I walked it and took me by a couple of sights that I had marked to see. The Cathedral is closed from noon to around 3 pm so plan your walk at the right time. The interior of the cathedral has mosaics and frescoes that date from the 12th and 13th century.
On your walk up or down you can pass by the Roman Theatre located on via Teatro Romano. The Roman Theatre dates from the 1st Century.
Wear good walking shoes as there is some climbing to do. A day in the city is more than enough. There are buses that can take you out to the Miramare Castle if you stay in the city.
I remember lots of cafes, and an article by the Brtitish Broadcasting Centre notes that Trieste is the coffee capital of Italy. There are many versions of coffee to consider, however, one in Trieste is to ask for a "capo un b" which is a mini cappuccino served in a glass.
Cafes are a second living room for many Italians.
The BBC article notes Triestini are said to drink twice as much of the stuff per year as anywhere else in Italy – an eye-popping 10kg of coffee beans each annually – but it's also home to the Mediterranean's main coffee port and one of Italy's biggest coffee brands: Illy. Each October the Trieste Coffee Festival takes place. Roasteries are open for tastings, restaurants create dishes spiced with coffee and there's a "Capo in B" championship to name the city's best barista.
Built between 1856 and 1860 it sits on a promontory with a commanding view of the sea. There is parking near with a pleasant walk along the coast to the castle. The castle is furnished and you can walk without guide through much of the first two floors.
Unfortunately the owner, Maximillian, accepted a proposal from the financiers of Napoleon III to become the emperor of Mexico in 1864. It was not a good decision and in the end he is shot by a firing squad after being in Mexico for only three years.
After that, his wife Carlotta had a breakdown and left the castle to live in Belgium for the next fifty years. So it was said the castle had a bit of a curse handing over it.