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The End of the European Peace Walk: Day 23 & 24: Trieste, Italy

Note: My adherence to the itinerary of the European Peace Walk went off the rails on Day 13.  Any information after this day loosely follows the EPW guide. Trieste is the final destination of the European Peace Walk.

Trieste, Italy

Trieste, Italy

Day 23

 

I wake up early to the sound of traffic.  The city is bustling at 7 AM.

The hotel’s host, Alesandro, prepares breakfast while inquiring about my travels.  “Where will you stop?” he asks — a familiar and reasonable question that wrenches at my soul and makes my stomach twist with anxiety, especially at this hour.  “I don’t know” I say, as if asking a question.  A look of wonder, then confusion followed by a look of pity crosses his face.  I tell him how I feel panic some days and elation on others and he reminds me that this is the same as regular life, which gives me comfort.  Momentarily.

While eating, Alesandro receives a message from his mother, who is in Santiago, having just completed the Camino de Santiago  “Do you know it?” he asks.  “Yes. I know it.  It’s wonderful.”

I venture downstairs to gauge the weather and realize how windy it is.  Alesandro tells me this is typical weather in Trieste and in the winter the wind gets extremely fierce. “It’sa called Bora.  But today mora lika borino – little Bora.”  He smiles as if he knows he just said something cute.

Plaza de Unità d' Italia

Plaza de Unità d’ Italia

I walk all over the city passing through the Plaza de Unità d’ Italia which is a magnificent square surrounded by palatial buildings dripping with ornamentation.  It reminds me of Vienna which is no coincidence because the plaza was built when Trieste was a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (until 1918).  This was it’s most important port.  At one end of the plaza is the Adriatic, making this the biggest sea-facing plaza in the world.  So majestic, It certainly does tell the observer that it’s #1.

Continuing on back streets I come upon the remnants of a Roman Theater, built in 100 AD.  It sits unassumingly across the street from a modern government building and next to a grocery store.  Nearly two-thousand years old – no big deal apparently!

The Sanctuary of Santa Maria Maggiore,  beckons me, a church built by the Jesuits beginning in 1627.  It sits above and behind a towering old city wall.  Beside the Sanctuary is Trieste’s oldest church, The Basilica of San Silvestro, built in the 11th Century and still in use today.

Taking side streets, door frames sag with the weight of 600 years.  I walk up the hill which was once a Roman city named Tergeste and pass the remnants of it’s gate.  Views of the city unfold around each corner.  Cats hide behind scooters.  Toy-sized cars navigate steep and narrow streets.

Sagging doors

Sagging doors

Climbing up the cobblestone streets I finally arrive at The Cathedral of San Giusto which was built atop Roman temple ruins.  It was first two churches in 900 AD, and then merged into one in the 1400’s.  Amazing shimmering Byzantine mosaics are inside.  

Satiated with enough culture for the day, I take an alternative route back to the hotel which means I get lost.  Getting lost is often half the fun.  I salivate outside a bakery which displays pastel merengues in the window along with an animated baking bunny.

Beauty stores are everywhere as are people walking dogs.  I observe a weenie dog with wheels in place of back legs.  What a trooper.  I follow him like he’s the Pied Piper and I’m a rat.  That’s spirit!

My hero.

My hero.

Looking for a bite to eat I wander into a pizza place and ask the man behind the counter if he speaks English.  “A little.  Where you from?” he asks.  “California”, I reply, and he smiles broadly glancing at his friend who is sitting on the customer side of the counter.  “California!” he exclaims.  “I from Turkey! You been Turkey?”  “No”, I reply.  “You want go?” he asks. “You gonna take me?” I ask, and he replies by pointing to his friend.  Looking at the friend I ask “You gonna take me?”  The friend nods.  Good then.  Can I get a slice of mushroom pizza?

My slice comes out of the oven and I devour it in a minute. Leaving, I wave. The nice man behind the counter says “See you tomorrow!”

I won’t see him tomorrow.  There will be no trip to Turkey with the pizza man.

 

Day 24, the Final Day of the European Peace Walk

 

Goodbyes

Goodbyes to Mike, Gerry, Helga, Gary, Senja, and Rob.  Not pictured: John and Martin.

In the morning I venture over to Caffè San Marco, the haunt of James Joyce for many years.  It’s a classy place to enjoy a latte and a croissant.  I feel swanky.

Senja arrives in the early afternoon having walked the last four days from Ljubljana, Slovenia to our hotel.  The woman is amazing.  She will have my eternal respect for tenacity.  Even more amazing, after a shower she is ready to hit the town and meet up with the rest of the group.  Although several of us have gone our own way, we have all agreed to meet in Trieste tonight for a final dinner together.

There are hugs upon reuniting and a lovely meal together over numerous bottles of wine.  I ask each member of the group for feedback about the walk that I could share with you.  They are generous with opinions and that post, along with a summary of my thoughts, will be forthcoming.  For now, I am grateful for our experience together and look forward to gaining perspective about the walk through distance and reflection.

And now again, I am solo.  And off to Venice…


Thank you to all my readers (that’s you!) for your interest, support and comments along the way!

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Photos of Trieste, Italy (click to view):

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