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Zurers in Italy 2018

Italy 2018: Tuesday, April 17: Day 1: Bologna

The trip from home to Italy is long but not too onerous. After driving to Newark and dropping off the rental car, we check in quickly and have lunch at a dumpling shop in the new United terminal at the airport. We spend an hour or so in the crowded United lounge before boarding the plane. The plane takes off about a half hour late but arrives in Rome on time. It's far from full and we are able to change our seats so that we each have a middle row to ourselves. Luxury!

There is a long line at passport control and our bags are waiting for us on the carousel. We make the well traveled route from baggage claim through the terminal to the car rental office. The Europcar person upsells me to a fancy Mercedes with a built-in GPS which costs us about 20 minutes as we try to figure out how it works. (It turns out not to be a touch screen but is manipulated by a small control knob in the console between the front seats. Who knew???)

The nearly 4 hour drive to Bologna on the A1 is familiar but the scenery is beautiful as usual ... very green. It is sunny and warm in Rome but there are some rain showers on the way. We stop for coffee and cornetti (the cornetti at autostrada rest stops are always delicious) and later on for a very mediocre sandwich. By the time we get to Bologna the sun is shining again ...

Our GPS takes us very efficiently to the Nuovo Hotel in Bologna which is in the center, not far from the train station.

Our Swedish friends have already arrived and gone out so we get settled into the room. Diana needs a nap, not having slept on the plane, and I set out for an exploratory walk.

We have been here several times before so the city feels familiar ... very busy with the distinctive sidewalks covered with long porticos, some with decorated ceilings.

The most famous sights in town are Neptune's fountain in the main square,

the San Petronio Basilica with its unfinished front facade (lots of people in the piazza are enjoying the warm sunny weather)

and the Torre Asinelli.

On the way back to the hotel, I walk through the extensive market area near the main piazza and past one of the few remaining visible canals in the city.

I take a short nap before we go out for apertivi near the hotel with our Swedish friends, Ulf and Elinor. We have dinner together at the Trattoria del Rosso which was a short walk from the hotel. We had eaten there on a previous trip and have a very pleasant dinner sitting outside. We share a plate of crescentine (fried bread) with prosciutto, mortadella, salami and cheese which was excellent. Diana had a deliciously simple pasta -- tagliatelle with prosciutto and butter and I enjoyed my gramigna (short curly pasta) with a sausage sauce.

We stroll back to the hotel. It is great to be back in Italy ....

Jim and Diana
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Here is an explanation of the "canabis" inscription on the portico ceiling....

Bologna is a town of voracious appetites, a place where visitors and locals alike splurge on indulgences at quality restaurants and bars into the early-morning hours. It’s also legendary for the open-mindedness of locals when it comes to healthy pleasures like cannabis and sex. Every year toward the end of September, a festival called Cannabis Protectio is held in Bologna. It takes its name from a famous inscription on the roof of a portico in the city center: “Panis vita, canabis protectio, vinum laetitia,” which translates to “Bread is life, canabis protection, wine happiness.” It’s a clear sign of how important the plant was to Bologna in past times.

Apparently hemp was very important to the economy of the region in the past.

I actually didn't notice it when I took the photo.....
I posted my itinerary for our trip in the Italy forum, but have copied it here.

It is the 25th anniversary of our first trip to Italy in 1993 when we visited my sister who had a teaching Fulbright in Florence. We have gone back at least once every year since then. This year we will spend most of our time in the northeast--Friuli and the Veneto. We were last in Friuli in 2000 so it is about time for another look.
  • We fly out of Newark to Rome on April 16 ...
  • April 17-19: Bologna: Meeting our Swedish friends Ulf and Elinor
  • April 19-22: Conegliano: in Prosecco country between Treviso and Belluno
  • April 22-26: Trieste
  • April 26-29: Gorizia
  • April 29-May 3: Udine (We had to rearrange this part of the trip because Udine was full the week before as it is the location for the Far East Film Festival.)
  • May 3-7: Asolo: foothills of the Dolomites
  • May 7-10: Crema: location of the film "Call Me By Your Name"
  • May 10-13: Lerici: one of our happiest places in Italy
  • May 13-17: Rome
  • On May 17, we fly back from Rome to Newark.
This is the second time we are flying out of Newark because the United non-stop to Rome is about half the price of flying on a connecting flight out of Washington DC. We are driving there and back in reasonably priced one-rentals from Alamo....I find it preferable to drive and fly non-stop rather than connecting in NYC or somewhere in Europe.


A. Leonardo da Vinci International Airport Rome
B. Bologna
C. Conegliano
D. Trieste
E. Gorizia
F. Udine
G. Asolo,
H. Crema
I. Lerici
J. Rome
Italy 2018: Wednesday, April 18: Day 2: Bologna

We wake up to a blue cloudless sky after sleeping through the night ... this usually means that from now on we will not be affected by jet lag. We appreciate the blue sky even more because the long range forecasts we had seen before the trip were predicting rain for Bologna.

We have a good breakfast ... I am impressed with the coffee machine which enables me to make a big cup of strong coffee by myself. We hang out in the room doing some work and reading before heading out to meet Valentina Misgur -- the daughter of one of our Italian connections dating back to the Compuserve Italian Forum from the early days of the internet -- at a bar in the center.

After catching up on her family, she tells us about her current project, a book about the modernist Italian architect Giuseppe Terragni -- who was active during the Mussolini era.

She then goes with us to the Piazza Maggiore, walking under some stunning portico ceilings

and takes us inside La Borsa, the old art-nouveau stock exchange building that has been transformed in a stunning public library and urban center.

After saying goodbye, we sit at a bar on the piazza with a spremuta (fresh squeezed orange juice) enjoying the view. The market area is directly adjacent to the Piazza Maggiore and the narrow streets are lined with shops selling all types of delicious looking food and with restaurants where customers are enjoying big plates of prosciutto and salami.

Heading back towards the hotel to meet Ulf and Elinor for lunch, we walk through the old Ghetto area which is marked with wall plaques indicating the old Jewish landmarks.

Lunch sitting outside at the Trattoria dal Bissoniat is fine ... the food is mostly okay (tortellini with butter and sage is memorable, the lasagne is not). Our table is located right next to one of Bologna's odder tourist attractions -- a window that opens up onto the Reno Canal.

While we are eating, many tourists (both individuals and groups) line up to take a peek.

After lunch, we all need a rest (wine with a big lunch).

Later in the afternoon, I take a walk and pass the art museum, the university district and one of the twelve
gates of the walled city.

(Note the unintentional shadow selfie.)

No one is hungry for dinner after our large and late lunch so the four of us decide to go the neighborhood bar for prosecco, snacks and conversation.

Tomorrow we leave for Conegliano in the Veneto ...

Jim and Diana
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Italy 2018: Thursday, April 19: Day 3: Bologna-Conegliano

Another beautiful day ... we have to pack up to leave for our next destination -- Conegliano in the Veneto.

After breakfast, I take a last walk in Bologna and go to see the Bologna Holocaust memorial which is on the far side of the train station, less than a mile from our hotel. The streets are crowded with people going to work and children on their way to school. I don't think I have ever seen so many bicycles locked up in one place ....

The memorial is located next to the railroad tracks at a busy intersection. It is very spare and stark ... two horizontal walls in an open plaza and two facing vertical rust colored iron slabs with a small space in between. On the interior walls -- separated by only a couple of feet -- are layers of "shelves" meant to simulate the bunks in concentration camps. It is a couple of days after Yom Hashoah so there is a wreath left in front of one of the walls.

More photos here: https://www.archdaily.com/782297/bologna-shoah-memorial-set

Ulf and Elinor join us for a walk over to a nearby park, the Montagnola Gardens, where we enjoy thepeace and quiet and say goodbye. We have been meeting them in Italy regularly for the past several years so we expect to see them again next year.

(We had met Ulf on line -- at the ticket office -- at Pompeii in 1994 and we have become good friends over the years. He and his family have visited us in Washington and we have even traveled to Lund Sweden to visit him.)

We check out, pack up the car, get the GPS set for our trip and start out.

Our lunch destination is at pizza place near Verona that was recently written up in the NY Times ... but when we get there, there is a sign in the window saying that they are closed for a special occasion. We should have called ahead.

I get on Google Maps and find a possible place for lunch in San Martino Buon Albergo (a suburb of Verona) and we drive there through a busy commercial and industrial area before reaching the Ristorante Al Maglio. The restaurant sits on the side of a fishing pond at the beginning of farmland. The place is very busy with customers coming for the 12 euro fixed price lunch. We are seated in the far corner of the attractive room and go over the menu, which has numerous options for less than three courses. Diana has a plate of excellent tortellini with butter and sage and a salad and I have a "mixed grill" -- sausage, a chicken drumstick and a slice of porchetta -- and a plate of vegetables (roast potatoes and swiss chard). This all comes with water and a quarter liter of wine. The food is great and the bill comes to Euro 18.00!

We may try to go the pizza place later in the trip.

Conegliano is a busy town with a very attractive historic center. We had been here in 2007 and this is what I wrote then ...

After lunch, we head back to the Stradadel Prosecco for a look at another of the wine trails and we make a short stop in Conegliano, another small Veneto city with a lovely historical center and an attractive vibe. There are arcaded sidewalks and buildings with flowers hanging from pots and biblicalscenes painted on walls.

We walk around the main street, make a short visit to the Duomo and admire an altarpiece by the famous local Renaissance painter, Cima di Conegliano, have a gelatoand leave town but we would happily come back for another visit on our next trip to the Veneto.

Our first impressions on our return trip are the same. We check into our very comfortable hotel -- the Canon d'Oro -- which is located just down the street from the Duomo. Our room looks out over the garden and the hill behind.

We go out together for a short walk and stop for our first gelato of the trip.

After resting in the room for a while and doing some work, I go out for an exploratory walk to check out possible places for dinner. Just outside the historical center, I walk along the Monticiano River

and admire some more grand historic buildings ... this one is a pizzeria.

We discuss the possibility of dinner but we are both too full and too tired to go out for a full meal. Instead, we go to a bar down the street and have some prosecco and a plate of prosciutto and mozzarella which is just what we wanted.

Tomorrow we will explore the town and drive out into the countryside.

Jim and Diana

PS I meant to include a picture of Valentina Misgur and me from yesterday.

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Italy 2018: Friday, April 20: Day 4: Conegliano

Bright and sunny again this morning ... we are definitely lucking out with the weather.

After a fine breakfast at the hotel, I do some work before heading out to do some sightseeing. We start out for the Duomo in Conegliano but come across a weekly market filling the street down from the hotel.

The market is very extensive and seems a bit higher in quality than most recent markets we have seen. The biggest selling item -- judging from what people are walking away with -- are plants ready for the ground.

After finishing with the market, we go into the Duomo which is located on the same street. The exterior facade is heavily frescoed which gives the building a very distinctive look.

The interior is not quite as distinctive as the facade ... but the altarpiece is a Madonna Enthroned, painted by the famous local artist, Cima di Conegliano.

There are some frescoed columns from 1491 that stand out

and I am struck by the number of Old Testament paintings -- Noah, Jacob, Moses, David, etc. -- that are displayed around the interior.

I have brought an old copy of my favorite Italian guide book series -- the Cadogan Guide to the Veneto -- which recommends a visit to the city of Oderzo -- just to the east near the border with Friuli. I have never heard of Oderzo but I take their advice and head there first. The drive over to Oderzo is not that interesting -- a busy, straight road through industrial areas and unremarkable towns.

Arriving in Oderzo, we find a parking space just around the corner from the Piazza Grande. We don't even have to pay; the meters are inactive from noon to 4 pm. The Piazza Grande is just that -- very expansive with the clock tower, the Duomo, cafes and shops on the perimeter.

Walking through the arch under the clock tower, we enter the historic center -- a lovely collection of arcaded streets, attractive shops and a network of pretty canals.

We are surprised and impressed since Oderzo does not attract many tourists ... but it should. Oderzo also has an extensive archaelogical district; in Roman times it was known as Opitergium and was well known in the ancient world. We don't have the time to visit the sites today but may try to return on Sunday when we move to Trieste.

Lunch is sandwiches at a pleasant cafe on the Piazza Grande and then we get back in the car to head back to Conegliano. We take a different route and make a stop at the small village of Portobuffole ... also recommended in the Cadogan Guide. Portobuffole is a quiet village known for its Renaissance painted buildings which are in various states of preservation. The village's slogan -- shown on signage promoting tourism is "Ascolatare il silenzio" (Listen to the silence.)

There was a good sized Jewish ghetto in Portobuffole and the Duomo was built in the 16th century on the site of the old synagogue ... A brief but interesting stop on our way back to Conegliano.

End of Part 1
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Italy 2018: Friday, April 20: Day 4: Conegliano: Part 2

Back in town, I do some more exploring, stopping by the house of Cima di Conegliano, which is now set up as a museum with many reproductions of his work. I also find the area that had been the Jewish quarter which is marked by one of the town's historical markers.

While walking around, I see a sign directing me to the Castello located at the top of the hill behind the town and start climbing. The climb is pretty steep -- passing some defensive walls built in the Middle Ages

but worth the effort for the views from top. In addition to the Castello, which is now the town's civic museum, there is a pretty park and a big restaurant. It is six more flights to the top of the castle where I get a wonderful 360 degree view over the town and the snow-capped Dolomites in the distance.

Dinner is at a seafood restaurant called Citta di Venezia, just steps away from the hotel. We sit outside on this pleasant evening and have a mostly excellent meal. We share a perfectly cooked branzino after a saute of mussels and clams for me and an unremembered dish for Diana. The white wine from the hills around Conegliano was excellent.

Tomorrow we are going to take the drive along the Strada del Prosecco.

Jim and Diana
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Italy 2018: Saturday, April 21: Day 5: Conegliano

We are getting spoiled with the weather ... another sunny and warm morning.

After breakfast, we set out to drive the Strada del Prosecco, a route through the heart of the vineyards that grow the grapes, as well as past the wineries that that produce the popular sparkling wine. (When we order aperitivi in Italy, all we need to ask for is "due prosecchi".)

Maps in hands and GPS set, we leave Conegliano and immediately get lost. The markers that are supposed to direct you on the route mysteriously disappear when they are most needed and it takes a couple of stops for us to puzzle over the maps and get on the right road.

Despite this annoyance, the countryside is lovely -- hills full of barely sprouting vines, busy towns with many places to buy prosecco and, at frequent intervals, snow covered mountains making appearances in the distance. Our last visit to the area was in the fall and my memory is that even in October, the hills were lush with a vibrant green ... more so than in April this year.

I don't have any pictures that show the beauty of the area so I am including this link from the local winegrowers association that gives you a better idea of the landscape. Strada del Prosecco pictures

We finish the loop in a few hours with a brief stop in the town of Valdobbiadene for a walk around and a photo op of the sweet war memorial

and the free-standing campanile on the main piazza.

We have a quick lunch at a roadside restaurant on the way back to Conegliano and then take the "scenic route" on a road that straddles the top of a ridge giving us great views in both directions.

Later in the afternoon, we go back to the Duomo to see the adjacent "Sala dei Battuti". This large hall -- originally the headquarters of a religious order that practiced flagellation -- is beautifully frescoed with scenes from the Old Testament and the life of Jesus.

A friendly volunteer in the hall greets us and guides us through all the panels. In the middle, a couple from Conegliano (also apparently volunteers in the Sala) come in and are introduced. They had just returned from three months in San Diego and we got into a brief discussion of American and Italian politics. (Diana: siamo di Washington DC ma non mi piace Trump.)

I was able to collect another Last Supper from among the frescoes ... this one quite unique I think.

I take a few photos of the main street of Conegliano ... the theater which is set on the main piazza

an intricate stone archway

and the painted facade of our hotel ... which we hadn't noticed until we walked on the opposite side of the street.

Dinner is not a highlight for me ... we go to a local place recommended by the hotel staff -- A Casa del Giorgio. To be fair, Diana enjoyed her food but I was put off the place from the moment we walked in and the host sat down and started running through the menu in mannered English. He would recommend one dish at time ... if you said no, he moved to the next one. I just wanted to see the menu. (He also did the same thing with the Italian customers.)

Anyway, Diana had stuffed squash blossoms, an excellent tagliata and an unusual marinated thinly sliced pineapple for dessert. My salumi plate was okay and my roast rabbit was not to my liking. To add insult to injury, I asked for panna cotta and when the waitress brought it, she said it was cheesecake. I said I didn't order cheesecake but she said that they didn't have panna cotta. The person who had said there was panna cotta came over and said that she didn't understand ... this was their special panna cotta. It wasn't ...

We paid -- after he took the panna cotta off the bill -- and we walked back; the street was still thronged with people enjoying the lovely evening and their aperitifs.

Tomorrow we are off to Trieste.

Jim and Diana


100+ Posts
Loving your descriptions of your trip & your photos!! Your time in Bologna brings back wonderful memories! That tower in Valdobbiadene looks like a very cool tower to climb! Excited to read about your time in Trieste & Udine (both places I visited for the first time last year). I never ended up getting to Conegliano and am really wishing I did now that I am reading about your time there.
Italy 2018: Sunday, April 22: Day 6: Conegliano-Trieste

After having our last breakfast in Conegliano, we take our time packing up, checking out and leaving for Trieste, which is less than two hours away on the autostrada. We leave the autostrada while we are still on the high limestone plateau called the Karst (Carso in Italian) and make the long descent to sea level. Our hotel is right on the waterfront and it is easily found.

The Starhotel Savoia Excelsior Palace is our splurge hotel for the trip ... we have a large junior suite on the fifth floor with a balcony overlooking the harbor. The shift manager who checks us in says it is his favorite room in the hotel. I think they think I am more important than I really am because in addition to having him escort us to the room, we have all sorts of goodies -- a box of chocolates with a hand written note from the hotel manager, complimentary bottles of water, upgraded fast internet -- given to us.

The room is truly special ... you can see the actual room in the pictures at this link.

Parking is not a problem ... the hotel has a valet service that costs 26 euros a night but there are big public lots just across the street that are busy on weekends but during the week, it is easy to park. It costs a euro an hour, and nights and holidays are free.

We settle in and unpack, check out the balcony and then go out to get a sandwich for lunch. I find a place called Dolomitiko which is a pleasant ten minute walk from the hotel. It turns out to be quite an unusual place -- giant hamburgers, pizza, salads and a strange but ultimately delicious array of sandwiches ... and our lunch is quite good -- prosciutto and cheese for Diana and delicious salami for me -- served on on excellent toasted focaccia. This is a foreshadowing of the slightly strange ambiance of Trieste ... Italian but not exactly Italian.

Diana stays in the hotel after lunch and I head out to explore ... I feel that I am remembering the geography of the city but I'm struck by how many streets in the center are pedestrian only; I don't remember it being that way when we were here in 2000. And on this sunny Sunday afternoon, the streets and piazzas are full of people -- it is a very lively scene.

In my exploration, I come across a massive food festival -- the Mercato Europeo

photo from www.solosagre.it

being held in the area around the Canal Grande ... right in the heart of the center.

photo from wikimedia.org

On both sides of the canal and for a number of nearby blocks, there are scores of mostly food stalls representing regions of Italy and foreign countries. This mercato will be open from 9 in the morning to midnight and it lasts for three days. We may have missed a chance to eat lunch there today but we will be back.

This is just one example of the scale of the stalls ... from Sardinia.

Here is a link to the Facebook page which tells you more about it and the upcoming schedule. Mercato Europeo

There is also a canoa tournament being played in the canal ... a sort of water polo played in kayaks. We first saw it in Lerici and later watched it played in Siracusa.

I go back to the hotel to bring Diana over to see the Mercato but when we return, I am feeling feverish and achy so take some aspirin and lie down. I feel really tired and we end up not going to dinner. By about 9 I am feeling somewhat better and we watch some television ... I hope that I had the six hour flu.

Tomorrow if I feel better, we will explore Trieste .

Jim and Diana


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I think they think I am more important than I really am because in addition to having him escort us to the room, we have all sorts of goodies -- a box of chocolates with a hand written note from the hotel manager, complimentary bottles of water, upgraded fast internet -- given to us.
You are Jim Zurer!!

I hope it is a 6 hour bug and you get back on your travel feet quickly!
I seem to have recovered by the next morning...I had something similar years ago in Volterra. Thankfully nothing like my bronchial infection two years ago ....that was serious.


100+ Posts
Hope it was a quick bug and you are over it! I discovered a great gelateria while I was in Trieste last June. It's called Cremeria Teresiana and is located very close to the Canal Grande on the right side of the church when looking from the harbor towards the church. Really yummy and great prices.
Italy 2018: Monday, April 23: Day 7: Trieste

I am feeling much better in the morning ... whatever I had yesterday evening has passed.

It's another beautiful day in northeastern Italy ... we have really lucked out so far.

Breakfast is served in the fancy dining room of the hotel (they have an arrangement with the local Eataly branch to run their food service) but it is not that special. After breakfast, we get in the car for a ride along the water to Duino, a small village on the sea just up the coast from Trieste. After getting turned around several times -- we are finding the built-in GPS in our car hard to get along with -- we get down to a pretty harbor with some boats and a jetty covered with sunbathers.

Photo from wikipedia. Sunbathers missing from this shot.

We sit on the terrace at this hotel having a coffee and enjoying the view.

Photo from tripadvisor.com

Further out on the water, we see a very large cruise ship passing by, probably enroute from Venice.

There is also an historic castle here which we don't visit

photo from www.bitn.it

and a walk along the coast made famous by the poet Ranier Maria Wilkie in his Duino Elegies.

Heading back to Trieste, we drive on top of the Carso through small villages, vineyards and farmland before dropping back into the city.

Lunch today is at the Mercato Europeo ... I find a parking space a couple of blocks away and we decide on the Sardinian booth. We share a large plate of roast pork, spareribs and sausage and for dessert we enjoy a delicious farinata (chickpea pancake) from the Ligurian stall.

photo from the internet

We meander through a few more blocks of stalls and then head back to the hotel for a quiet late afternoon.

We are meeting Theresa Conti for dinner ... she is an American who has moved to Trieste and was written about by our friend Valerie Fortney Schneider on the International Living web site.

I go to scout out the neighborhood so we have no trouble later when we meet her. On the way, I walk through the streets that were in the old Jewish Ghetto and make a stop at the Trieste branch of Eataly, which has a beautiful setting right on the harbor.

The evening is a lot of fun ... we have a glass of wine at her apartment and then go out to dinner at a neighborhood restaurant -- Trattoria da Mara -- where she is "known." We have lots to talk about -- her experience moving to Italy, our experiences traveling around Italy, politics, etc.

We walk her back to her place, say our good-byes and stroll back to the hotel through quiet streets.

Tomorrow we plan to visit the very imposing synagogue that we missed on our previous trip to Trieste.

Jim and Diana
Italy 2018: Tuesday, April 24: Day 8: Trieste

This morning we will finally get to the Tempio Israelitico, the large synagogue in Trieste that we missed on our last trip in 2000. There is not much street parking available in the area but there is a handy underground parking garage just three blocks away. We park there and walk over. The building is one of the "newer" synagogues in Italy -- those built after the ending of the ghettos in the late 19th century -- which are notable for their visibility and scale. Up to that time, Jewish places of worships were mostly constructed in existing buildings and hidden from view. These new synagogues were large and imposing -- built in a monumental style -- and frequently designed by the leading architects of the time who were usually not Jewish.

We wait for the guide to arrive and we are taken into the sanctuary and seated in the rear, sharing the space with a group of schoolchildren who are sitting in the front. The "tour" consists of a 45 minute detailed lecture (in rapid fire Italian) about the history of the Jewish community in Trieste. Interestingly the lecturer is a not Jewish but a well prepared historian. Needless to say we miss a great deal but luckily we had read enough to get the main points.

The Jewish community in Trieste goes back a long way (to the 14th century) and became more prominent under the Austro-Hungarian Empire when Trieste was declared a "free port" to encourage trade and eastern European Jews were invited to come to Trieste. Later there was a large influx of Sephardic Jews ... many from Corfu, who were fleeing from persecution in the Ottoman Empire. Before the construction of the new building in the early days of the 20th century, there had been a number of synagogues reflecting the differing religious traditions -- Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Italian rite, etc -- but the new synagogue incorporated these into one congregation.

By 1938, there were 6,000 Jews in Trieste but due to the Italian racial laws of 1938 and the German occupation during the war resulting in many being murdered in concentration camps, the community now numbers about 600. But they do maintain the synagogue, a religious school, a old age home and a museum so it is a very active community.

The interior of building is quite ornate and grand ... lots of marble and gilt.

but we prefer the smaller chapel that is used for most services.

Diana thinks that most of the people on the tour are not Jewish because of the questions they asked. If so, I think they got a lot more than they bargained for.

Leaving the synagogue, we do a bit of shopping. Diana is looking for a thimble and I have located a fabric and notions store nearby. While Diana is shopping successfully, I take a look at a nearby laundromat since we will have to do a laundry before we leave Trieste.

Our next stop is a house museum a few blocks away ... the home of the rich Jewish banking family -- the Morpurgos. The home is decorated in the style of the well to do in mid-19th century Italy. There is nothing particularly Jewish about the place but it unashamedly elaborate and shows off the family's wealth.

Not my style but certainly interesting to see ...

Lunch time and as luck (or planning) would have it, we were just a few blocks from the Mercato Europeo. Today we go to the stall that serves food from Florence and I enjoy an especially Tuscan treat -- a lampredotto (cow stomach) sandwich. Diana orders a porchetta sandwich that is heated and served with grilled onions. Both are delicious ... a bit ironic if you consider where we had been in the morning.

The Duomo, the Castello and many of the Roman remains are at the top of the hill in the middle of town -- San Giusto. It takes us a few approaches to find a comfortable way to drive up to the top and a couple of passes to find parking ... but once we do, we walk around the very interesting Duomo and the remains of the Roman basilica next door.

(End of Part 1)
Italy 2018: Tuesday, April 24: Day 8: Trieste (Part 2)

We decide to skip the Castello

and make a momentous decision -- we will leave Italy and visit Slovenia. The border is now wide open since Slovenia is in the European Union so we get in the car and head south. Our destination is the nearby seaside resort town of Piran, about 35 minutes away. My initial impression once we cross the border is that the towns and countryside in this part of Slovenia are more manicured than an Italian town in the area but, other than the signs in Slovenian, it is not a dramatic difference.

Once we get to the town of Koper, things begin to seem different. Koper is a bit port city and we see scores of automobile transporters on the road full of new cars and we pass acres of lots completely crammed with cars waiting for shipment.

photo from the internet - automotivesupplychain.org

In addition, the roads in the area are brand new and the shopping centers are quite impressive ...

The approach to Piran is beautiful ... sweeping views over the water with the town stretched out on a narrow peninsula.

photo from the internet - www.adventureliesinfront.com

Once we get down to the town, we are taken aback because entrance to the town is restricted to permanent residents and hotel guests. We figure out that we have to park at a lot up the hill and take a bus or walk down. After we park, we look around for a bus stop and finding none, we start to walk down the hill. Once in town, I see that there is a shuttle bus and we take it to the center of town, saving us a considerable hike.

The town is attractive and lively ... a pretty town square

a busy harbor with many sailboats

as well as a long seaside promenade.

We have a drink at the bar in the foreground (no snacks served with drinks here), enjoy the view and walk back to catch the free shuttle bus. I had figured out by this time that the bus did go to the parking garage but it went to the bottom, not the top. Sure enough, as we were exiting the lot, we saw the sign explaining this which we had missed on our way in. Dumb tourists ...

We arrive back in Trieste safe and sound from our foreign adventure ... we may even repeat the experience before we leave Friuli.

Dinner is at a nearby restaurant that we had eaten at on our previous trip ... Ai Fiori. It is very nicely if a bit oddly decorated. It's quiet and the service is friendly and professional. The food was not quite up to the ambience unfortunately but, in the end we enjoy our meal. Diana starts with carpaccio with an anchovy sauce served with very bitter wild asparagus and followed that with a local version of ravioli (cjarsons) filled with cod and served on top of a pesto sauce. I had an odd (too refined) plate of spaghetti with vongole (clams) and zucchini followed by a dish of nicely fried and breaded sardines (sardoni). Diana's apricot tart with mixed fruit was outstanding. The house white was easy to drink and we finished a liter.

Luckily we were just steps from the hotel ... a very full day.

Tomorrow we plan to attend the Liberation Day ceremony.

Jim and Diana.
Italy 2018: Wednesday, April 25: Day 9: Trieste

Today is the Festa della Liberazione in Italy ... Liberation Day ... commemorating the end of the Nazi occupation of the country in 1945. In Trieste, the program is being held at the Risiera San Sabba, the only Nazi concentration camp in Italy. We think that it is quite significant that the city of Trieste would choose to hold its ceremony at this site.

It's a good thing that we arrive early because the next door parking lot is filling up. Walking into the Riseria, we pass many organizations passing out literature ... some from anti-fascist organizations, some from labor unions. Many people are wearing red shirts or red bandanas. Inside the Riseria, we are able to find places in the front row so we will have a good view of the program.

This is a screen shot from a local newspaper's web site.

We are leaning on the fence watching the participants arrive ... politicians, soldiers, representatives of labor unions, social organizations, religious groups, etc. The area behind the microphones fills up fast as does the area where the audience is gathering.

There are a number of introductory speakers but when the mayor of Trieste begins his speech, many in the audience -- many carrying small signs with anti-fascist slogans and wearing red -- start to whistle, jeer, sing the partisan anthem "Bella Ciao" and otherwise try to drown out the mayor. He continues without acknowledging the disruption. We are not sure at this point exactly what the issue is. The next speaker is a mayor of another town -- he speaks first in Slovenian and then in Italian. Again we miss much of the content but he is very well received by the crowd. Then the religious representatives give their talks or prayers ... Catholic, Greek Orthodox, evangelical, etc.

As the Trieste rabbi speaks, we understand that he is objecting to the tone of the commemoration and when he finishes, he and the rest of the Jewish delegation shake hands with some of the dignitaries (including the Mayor) and then slowly walk off the the stage and out of the Risiera. The ceremony finishes with a lot of organizations laying wreaths and flowers and then a Slovenian partisan choir gives a short concert. (D: one of the songs they sing is the Jewish Partisan hymn - Zog Nit Keynmol. They sing it in Slovenian, not Yiddish, but I'm moved that it is included.)

We later learn -- from talking to some English speakers and seeing reports on the internet -- that many in the crowd object to the right leaning politics of the mayor of Trieste and were expressing their opposition to his meetings earlier in the year with leaders of far right Italian parties. And we discover that the rabbi was objecting to the presence of several Palestinian flags in the audience and the assertion of those waving the flags that Israeli actions were equivalent to Nazism. There had apparently been an understanding that the Israel flag (shown in an earlier picture) and the Palestinian flags would be removed. It apparently didn't happen.

This just underscores how much we miss when we are at Italian speaking events ... but we are glad to have taken part in the commemoration and to have experienced this political tension.

Next, we drive the short distance to the fishing village/beach town of Muggia. I have found a laundromat in town and we will do our laundry after we have some lunch. We pass through town and are surprised at how different it looks from our memories of being here 18 years ago -- lots of restaurants along the water, sailboats in the harbor and a long waterfront promenade where locals are sunning themselves on the rocks. We find a parking space near a bar kiosk, sit at a table in the sun and eat sandwiches while looking at the activity in the port of Trieste just across the harbor and enjoy the warm, sunny weather.

We then circle back into town and discover the laundromat is in the pedestrian-only "centro storico" so I have to park and walk into the center to find it. We park in the town parking lot, walk to the laundromat, put the clothes in the machine and go to the soap dispensing machine to buy soap. Disaster ... the machine eats our money and there are no stores open on this holiday to go and buy detergent. Before giving up, I call the telephone number I find on the internet (no numbers anywhere in the laundromat) and, miraculously, a woman answers, understands what I tell her in halting Italian and tells me (in English) that she will come in ten minutes.

Elisa, the owner, lives nearby and comes over, apologizes for the inconvenience, opens the machine, gives us the soap and instructs us on the proper operation of the washing machine. We then have a nice conversation in a combination of English and Italian ... she tells us that she loves the United States and spent six weeks there last year, driving from coast to coast. We tell her about our experience at the Liberation Day ceremony and she says that she had heard a report on the radio about the disturbances. She said that she didn't know why people were angry with the Mayor, that he had been a good mayor of Muggia in the past and was now serving his third term as mayor of Trieste. She thought a lot of the development in Muggia and Trieste was promoted by him.

We exchange contact information ... it turns out she also has a vacation apartment available for rent next door ... and say goodbye. Maybe she will contact us on her next trip to the States.

Laundry accomplished, we feel we have earned a gelato and find a busy gelateria in town. Delicious ...

Walking back to the car, I take some pictures of the Duomo and the harbor.

Back in Trieste, we rest up before dinner ... We eat at a typical Triestine restaurant called Siora Rosa, recommended by Osterie di Italia and by our new friend Theresa. The place is packed and we get one of the last tables inside. For a while, we are feeling ignored but finally the very charming waitress takes care of us. Diana has a hearty farro and vegetable soup followed by a mild white fish called saragni. I have a dish of prosciutto meatballs -- heavy on bread filler but tasty -- and some spinach. Not the best food of our trip but a pleasant experience.

We take our last evening stroll on Trieste's pedestrian streets ... we have enjoyed our stay here.

Tomorrow we drive north a short way to Gorizia.

Jim and Diana
Italy 2018: Thursday, April 26: Day 10: Trieste-Gorizia (Part 1)

The streak of beautiful weather continues ... sun, blue skies, warm temperatures. We pack up, check out and leave our bags at the hotel for one last excursion in Trieste. We are headed to the modern art museum -- the Palazzo Revoltella -- just down the street from the hotel. Diana is taken by the street lights.

The museum is in the palazzo owned by shipping magnate Pasquale Revoltella and was redesigned by the important Italian architect Carlo Scarpa in 1963; he is a favorite of my architect brother-in-law and niece.

The galleries are light and airy and the paintings are beautifully displayed. There is a nice view over the harbor from the roof.

photo from the internet, i.pinimg.com

We move quickly through the galleries ... I take some pictures of paintings that I like but we are making a speedy visit.

Part of the gallery has preserved the orginal furnishings of the palazzo from the mid-19th century. If we had thought that the Morpurgo House was elegant, Revoletella had that beat by a mile.

The floors are particularly impressive.

We are moved by the special exhibition of drawings by Zoran Music, a Slovene painter who survived Dachau and left a collection of stark drawings of what he witnessed. There is also a collection of photographs documenting the conditions of the camps at the end of the war.

Here is a link to a story with some of the disturbing drawings.

Back at the hotel, we collect our bags and head out of town. We have enjoyed staying in the lap of luxury but it is now time to get back to real life.

We make another momentous decision ... we will make the short drive to Gorizia (a town right on the Slovenia-Italy border) through Slovenia. This route takes us through a pretty rural landscape with many vineyards but the towns we pass through are not particularly attractive and we see few people.

Our first impressions of Gorizia are positive ... our memories of our short visit in 2000 are a bit hazy; we only spent a few hours here. Our hotel is on the main street which is broad and tree-lined. The only "shock" is that we have to drive on the broad sidewalk in order to get into the hotel parking ... which seems odd. After we check in, we walk up the street to a cafe, sit at an outdoor table and have lunch -- prosciutto and mozzarella for both of us with a glass of wine.

(end of part 1)


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