Tales from Trieste
When in Trieste there are several must dos. The funicular tram to Opicina,1200 feet above the city. And the 6km ride on the number 6 bus to the Disney land castle of Miramare.
Most will know that the great explorer Sir Richard Burton so ingloriously buried in his concrete tent in Mortlake ,spent his last years as British consul in Trieste. It was here his devoted wife Isabel so ingloriously burned his papers. He would have hated that and he was none too keen on the posting .
He had been anxious for a grander post in Morocco where his Arabic skills would have been better used. However as Foreign Minister Lord Derby said to Burton “Here is £600 a year for nothing to do and you are just the man to do it.” Other previous official posts had Burton spending the minimum time at the office and the maximum time miles away, exploring, researching and shining in his own brilliance.
While at least nominally in Trieste(1873-90) he escaped further by taking rooms for the weekend in a now defunct hostelry in Opicena. Then a remote wild village now a suburb.The day I went it was raining as it did for half my five day stay. I caught the school kids special at 3pm. Very much the street car, complete with wooden seats, named Opicina.
The views of the famous Trieste bay were negligible and it was not a day to scout around and explore, no Sir Richard me. So a miserable beer in a sad café at the tram stop as I waited for the next car to take me back to the city.
The trip to Miramare was of a totally different class. Miramare was the dream castle Crown Prince Maximalian built, on a promontory, for he and his Belgian princess Carletta. The gothic turrets dominate the view north of the city. He foolishly and famously having renounced the throne of the Hapsburg Empire was persuaded to become the ill fated Emperor of Mexico. More famous than his dream castle is the Goya picture of him being shot.
But the day I went out the weather had changed, a warm mature sun dominated. After three days in the city I had realised that a ticket was an optional extra, to be bought only if you had doubts about going to heaven.
It was the classic out of season, dream of a resort experience. Everything you wanted, the view, the site, the experience, the restaurant ,the calm Adriatic and no people. Sun on my face, now at last I was the flaneur of my fantasy, civilised and knowing, the star of my own movie.
Behind generations of culture and education. In front a plate of sea food, a mixed salad, a glass a local wine. A fifty seater terrace with only four tables taken. A charming waitress with time to flirt for her tip. The sea so flat that a sculler was stroking away. The yachts in the marina contented and quiet. The curve of the bay so feminine and easy. I dallied, a man content. Sometimes life is so worthwhile.