Joyce’s Town

Italy is one of the most populous countries in Europe. A plethora of big, globally recognized cities can be found in Italy. One of the lesser-known cities compared to the likes of Venice and Rome is Trieste. Trieste, however, made it on our schedule mostly because of one former Treistine.

A fortress in the hills of Trieste.

A fortress in the hills of Trieste.

In the early 1900s, James Joyce joined the Trieste community and found that it suited him perfectly. In fact, Joyce and his wife, Nora Barnacle fell quite in love with the city. From Zagreb, we drove to Trieste to see for ourselves the charm that won over James and Nora.

The Caffe Trieste.

The Caffe Trieste.

We didn’t have much time in the city so we condensed our touring with a facility that has become very familiar to us over the last year. The hop-on hop-off tour bus carried us through Trieste stopping at various attractions. We hopped-off at a few locations. Our longest stop was at the Gulf of Trieste at the Miramare Castle.

Seamus and Wanda on the Miramare Castle.

Seamus and Wanda on the Miramare Castle.

The commentary of the bus explained that the castle had been commissioned by Ferdinand Maximilian with the intention raising a family with wife, Charlotte of Belguim.  Although the building was carried out through the direction of the Austrian architect, Carl Junker, the couple’s plans were never carried out. Tragically, Maximillian was killed in Queretaro where he was serving as Emperor at the time. Charlotte returned to Miramare without her husband. Shortly thereafter, she suffered a nervous breakdown.

The Miramare castle.

The Miramare castle.

The castle rests on an outcrop reaching into the Adriatic Sea in the northern part of the Mediterranean sea. We wandered the gardens of the Castle and the surrounding beach area. We hopped back onto the bus and drove back into town.

A plaque to James Joyce quoting him to say "my soul is in Trieste".

A plaque to James Joyce quoting him to say “my soul is in Trieste”.

The commentary mentioned as we drove through one of the residential areas that we were passing the apartment that Joyce had stayed in and the apartment where he lived and completed his work A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Although from Ireland, a huge segment of Joyce’s life was spent in Trieste. His first children were born Trieste.

The St. Antonio Church.

The St. Antonio Church.

Joyce managed a living by teaching English to Italians. Joyce was somewhat of a connoisseur of language. Not only did he master his mother tongue and create some works regarded as the best of the English language but he had knowledge of French, German, Greek and some study in Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Finnish, Polish, Norwegian, Latin, Gaelic and of course, Italian. Joyce spoke and sang Italian fluently. Ostensibly, Joyce sang Italian so well that locals in Trieste would gather under his window to listen.

Seamus and Joyce.

Seamus and Joyce.

We hopped-off again near St. Antonio Church where we saw a statue of Joyce. From there we walked to the main town square, Piazza Unita d’Italia. The area was very crowded because of a local election campaign so we made our leave. In our area we found gardens left to Trieste by a rich merchant, Pasquale Revoltella. We strolled through Revoltella’s former property until it dinner time rolled around.

A turtle in pond of Revoltella's grounds.

A turtle in pond of Revoltella’s grounds.

A statue in the Revoltella garden.

A statue in the Revoltella garden.

Seamus, Wanda and Meadhbh in the Revoltella gardens.

Seamus, Wanda and Meadhbh in the Revoltella gardens.

Joyce was known to frequent many of the pubs of Trieste, however we was also known to consume some solids from time to time. To complete our time in Joyce’s town we went to a cafe that Joyce had often dined at called the Caffe Tommaseo.

View of Trieste from the edge of the Revoltella property.

View of Trieste from the edge of the Revoltella property.

The Caffe was a humble establishment with a welcoming atmosphere. The menu had a section dedicated to the meals that Joyce had enjoyed. Every dish sounded delicious. We assumed that the quality was confirmed by the amount of locals in the Caffe.

The statue of James Joyce.

The statue of James Joyce.

One of the local customers introduced himself to us. When he learned that our visit to Trieste was inspired by James Joyce’s time there he revealed that he had been a friend of the man who crafted the Joyce statue. He told us, as a native Treistine, that Trieste had not recognized Joyce’s talent during the time he lived in the city but today everyone in Trieste were proud to have shared a home with such a prominent and great author.

– Siobhan