In any case, leaving Turin for the second to last leg of my journey this time around included a 2-day conference in Venice and while I liked the format, improvements could be made. The conference hotel was well located, only 250 meters form the train station, but the storms had headed in, so getting drenched with my luggage for the 5 to 7 walk was not fun and the food offered at the hotel was nothing special. The meetings I had over the next few days, were good for the most part, but too, too many. Almost 30 each day and no coffee breaks, so honestly, I am not sure I would attend such an event again. I understand everyone wants to have a meeting, but by the end of each day, I was, as I am sure many were, exhausted and by then I was on the 4th week on the road. The prize at the end, this past Friday, was meeting Rosa at the train station in S Lucia, and I took a local train across, dropped the luggage at the hotel and returned for her arrival.
The past 4 days, one in Venice, one in Gorizia and two in Trieste from where I am writing this post, were wonderful. Did we have ideas of what we wanted to do? Yes!! Did we accomplish them all? No, of course not, but that does not mean we did not do a lot and we had a wonderful time together, ate local foods and walked many a kilometer, on average, over 10 kilometers a day and our longest, the first day in Venice from the Jewish Ghetto to San Marco and many other back areas of Venice where we end up on the lagoon, away from the crowds. We tried squid ink pasta and other foods here and also included a walking tour of the ghetto where I actually learned something new. That is the ghetto comes from an Italian word getto, which means family, so the whole history is fascinating. In any case, we were off and running with 16 kilometers, yes, it is possible, even with how compact Venice is. Remember, she and I were together this summer and we did time here also.
The next day, we were off and took a two-hour regional train to Gorizia which has a sister city and no border Nove Gorica which is in Slovenia, and it was so fascinating to understand the history of this region, which is called Fruili – Venezia – Gulia, which also included the next stop. The history of this region is fascinating as places like Gorizia were not even a part of Italy, but part of the Austro – Hungarian empire and when WWI started, this part sided with the Axis, but then, Italy switched sides in a savvy political move, so when the war ended, the empire was broken up and it became part of Italy. There is certainly more and during the Cold War, there was a border between the countries of Italy and Yugoslavia. Do you remember Yugoslavia. Yes, it was a country ruled by a man named Tito until his death in 1980, but the fascinating part is there was not a physical barrier between the two countries. Just a psychological one and fear was the factor to keep people from trying to leave, but eventually, there was a special passport and much smuggling allowed. The most valuable commodity for the Yugoslavs was coffee, as it was horrible in their country and Italy had some of the best. Apparently, there were limits, but it could buy you a car, if you could accumulate enough. In the end, thank you Boris for a very cool guided tour and an explanation of the history. Today, there are no borders and Slovenia, and Italy are part of Schengen and the EU, and the border was arbitrarily set, and rally made no sense. One other noteworthy point. These two towns ae to the co Capital Cities of Culture in 2024 – 2025.
The past few days were spent in Trieste, which also has an amazing history including being divided between east and west for a time after WWII, during the Cold War. I believe it was 9 years, so somewhat like Berlin with an Anglo – American presence and the Yugoslav army, the other. Rosa wandered the city including the cathedral, the castle and enjoyed a very nice meal in a restaurant 15 minutes from our hotel, Osteria G. Stehler and enjoyed an amazing goulash with gnocchi and Rosa has a risotto, both excellent. The hotel in which we stayed was the Doubletree by Hilton and when you arrive, you are amazed by the architecture. Very much recommend it. Our second day, more exploration and did you know that the coffee maker, Illy, originated in this area. Well, it did. The highlight for us today, was the castle at Miramare, a 12-minute train ride from Trieste. It is a bit of hike down to the water, but what you see is beautiful and it is protected marine area, as well. We learned, however, that taking the train back, even though it is only one stop, has a very long wait, so it is best to either take the bus, or even a taxi, if you are not renting a car in this area. In the summer, the 9 to 10 kilometers to walk to get there or back would be very doable, given you also have much more daylight. It is just weird when it is totally dark, and it is not yet 5:00 pm. This evening’s dinner was Joti, a stew of meat, potatoes, sauerkraut, carraway seeds and along with a shared meat platter. Pepi’s buffet, had been around since 1897. Check it out when you come to Trieste.
For the last word of this very long post, Winston Churchill in a very important speech, or so I thought, put Trieste on the map. It was called the Iron Curtain speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946, and it starts out “From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent,” and that is why I wanted to visit this city. When I asked about it with people who lived here, no one knew anything about it, nor any mention in museums or anything. I was not necessarily disappointed, just surprised that such an important speech, where Trieste was mentioned, did not register. In any case, this city and this area has such an amazing history, and what once started as a small place, grew significantly when it was named a freeport during the time of the Hapsburgs and so much to offer in terms of history, culture, food, nature and so forth. A place worth visiting and apparently, also named number one city to live in Italy, beating out Milan. I will return here to explore more.
In any case, and from this crazy nomadic puffin and Rosa di Roma, until next week, and greetings from Italy, the last 6 days of this latest marathon trip, ending in Rome. I thank you for your support of my crazy little world and of my small business. It is truly appreciated, and as always, I am interested in your thoughts, comments, questions and adding to the discourse is always appreciated be in on the site itself or on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you read this.
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin