Episode 315 – A Thursday in Trieste.

01:00 (that’s 1 a.m. in North American parlance) We’re just settling in to sleep. There’s no point in trying to go to sleep earlier on a hot summer night, since windows need to be open (no AC in most homes here) and the church square and streets are hives of activity until well past midnight. The restaurants that use the square as their patio close at 22:30, but that by no means suggests that there is nothing else going on. Plus, the young guys in fast cars only come out to play and rev their engines once the streets are fairly empty of traffic.

01:43 I’m awakened from a brief sound sleep by the smashing and crashing noise outside of what sounds like hundreds of glass bottles mixed with cans. Ah. The Trieste municipal garbage trucks are emptying the communal containers down the street. Unlike Berlin where city apartment blocks have their wheeled garbage and recycling containers in their courtyards, picked up during the day once per week, this part of Trieste has no courtyards; residents and businesses carry their bags of garbage and recycling to the nearest row of industrial-sized curb-side bins. We wondered how and when they got emptied. Now we know.

Imagine a truck “tipping” the contents of one of these into its hold, and then setting the empty bin back down. Repeat 5 times. It is NOT a quiet process.

As I look out the window, there are still a few people sitting on a bench in the square chatting (probably too hot to sleep), and a couple of cars race around the corner at speeds much faster than they could achieve during the day.

Back to bed. With the garbage trucks moved further down the street, relative quiet returns.

04:30 Sunrise may officially be 06:08, but the streets are already light, and people’s preparations for the workday have begun, which means MOTORCYCLES. Lots of motorcycles. There are at least as many motorcycles as cars here, and they are LOUD. I get up to use the bathroom and go back to bed. We’re both becoming experts at sleeping through the traffic noise. The fact that the gulls in the park are doing their weird combination of cry/laugh/meow, and dogs are barking, is of absolutely no consequence.

Left: the line of motorcycles parked under our bedroom window.
Right: motorcycle parking beside the church.

07:15 Holy kazoly! WHAT IS THAT?!? The sound of a jackhammer and concrete cutter jolt us awake. The bodega on the ground floor just below our flat is being renovated, and the past few days’ sound of concrete walls and floor being broken up using sledgehammers and the resulting chunks of concrete thrown into the back of a metal flatbed truck have nothing on this shudder and whine. We didn’t have much planned for today, but may need to wander down to the waterfront sooner rather than later for some peace.

At least construction jobs usually take a 2 hour lunch break, and finish by about 16:00. When the concrete cutter briefly stops, we can hear the music from the boombox the workers are using as entertainment. I guess wearing ear protection isn’t required. Maybe that’s why all the older men seem to speak so loudly. (Safety boots don’t seem to be required either.)

08:40 Wide awake. Amazing husband (also wide awake) delivers coffee to me in bed. While that sounds glamorous and decadent, keep in mind that our flat only has 2 options for seating: kitchen chairs, or bed.

09:00 One of our favourite sounds breaks through: the bells from San Giacomo across the street.

10:00 Off to the Grand Canal to walk around. The route there from our lodging is via Bus 10. (For anyone who doesn’t know our history with “Bus 10”, check out Episode 236)

We start by walking through the pedestrian shopping area and Piazza della Republica, where we’re awed by the facade of the Palace Suite Hotel. It is probably the most Italianate building design we’ve seen in Trieste.

Casa Terni Smolars, at 6 Via Dante Alighieri, dates to 1906 when it was commissioned by the knight Augusto Terni. It now houses ground floor retail shops and the Palace Suite 4-star Hotel.

We keep strolling until we reach the Piazza del Borsa, an area dense with buildings that are reminiscent of Vienna, with good reason since they were almost all built during Trieste’s tenure as an important Hapsburg seaport.

This gorgeous 1806 Greek temple–style structure is now the Chamber of Commerce, but was once Trieste’s Stock Exchange.
Poseidon features on top of the former Stock Exchange and in the fountain in the centre of the square. A second magnificent building also bears the word “Borsa”, which means “exchange”.

11:23 On Via San Nicolo we’re entertained by members of the Cambridge University Brass Ensemble, busking while they’re on holiday here from England.

Then we head to the Grand Canal, where Ted takes more wonderful photos of the amazing architecture that makes up Trieste’s city centre.

Looking from the bottom of the Grand Canal up toward the pillared Church of Sant’Antonio Nuovo, the largest church building in Trieste. Ted then took pictures beginning at the front left of this photo and working all the way around to the front right.

12:09 Salumeria sighting. What could be better than an entire store dedicated to cured meats?

12:40 Lunch break. Pizza again. (When in Italy… this time it’s tomato sauce, mozzarella de bufala, mushrooms, artichoke, basil, and prosciutto cotto.)

That’s HALF a “single person” pizza on Ted’s plate!

13:09 James Joyce sighting.

Ulysses might have been a much different book had James Joyce not lived for so long (15 years) in Trieste.

13:12 Since there’s not an Aperol in my hand, I have to find some way to hint to Ted that there should be.

13:25 I do a record fast shop for a pair of wide-legged pants (stylish and, more importantly, cool!) en route to our bus stop, and we head for home, intending to do some grocery shopping in preparation for a “rain day” tomorrow.

13:50 The skies open and the wind starts to blow fiercely, less than 2 minutes after we get back onto our apartment and a full 4 hours ahead of schedule for those of us counting on the accuracy of our weather apps. Much needed rain (with occasional thundershowers) is predicted for the next 24-36 hours. Unfortunately, we didn’t get out to replenish our wine supply before the downpour. On the up side, there should be very little noise from the square tonight if the rain continues.

Suddenly the square is empty of people, but full of the vibrant colours that summer rains elicit.

15:45. The rain stops. The sun reappears, as do the motorcyclists. San Giacomo square instantly fills with people. Concrete cutting restarts downstairs. Ted and I head to the Bosco Maxi supermarket where we buy the necessities for tonight’s mushroom risotto, plus wine (of course).

18:30. Dinner, accompanied by Placido Domingo tunes tonight. Ted is enjoying curating an Italian Spotify playlist.

20:10 Time for our nightly walk to the gelateria, where the girls behind the counter are starting to recognize us. Tonight it’s fresh coconut for me, and stracciatella for Ted.

20:25 While sitting in the park enjoying the last bits of our cones, live music starts at Bar G, whose outdoor patio is right on the square. We sit for an hour or so and listen to the vocal duo, accompanied by a very good keyboard player, croon a series of jazzy Italian standards and a couple of English ballads. Cloud cover means there are no stars, but the sky is as black as the blackest velvet. It’s magical.

21:50 We head back to our flat, from where we continue to enjoy the entertainment. It’s a fluke of the square’s acoustics that sound gets pushed upwards, so the music is actually clearer in our rooms than down in the piazza.

22:45 The show outside turns into a sing-along as everyone in the square apparently knows all the words to the last couple of songs being sung. It’s quite fabulous really.

23:00 The music has ended, but folks stay on, and the sound of happy chatter and the patio chairs being stacked away carries into our flat through windows that have to stay open in the night heat. Unless the predicted rain arrives, it won’t be long before the rev of racing engines joins the music of the night. Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise comes to mind.

"Beautiful Noise"

What a beautiful noise
Comin' up from the street
It's got a beautiful sound
It's got a beautiful beat

It's a beautiful noise
Goin' on ev'rywhere
Like the clickety-clack
Of a train on a track
It's got rhythm to spare

It's a beautiful noise
And it's a sound that I love
And it fits me as well
As a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does

What a beautiful noise
Comin' up from the park
It's the song of the kids
And it plays until dark

It's the song of the cars
On their furious flights
But there's even romance
In the way that they dance
To the beat of the lights

It's a beautiful noise
And it's a sound that I love
And it makes me feel good
Like a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does
What a beautiful noise

It's a beautiful noise
Made of joy and of strife
Like a symphony played
By the passing parade
It's the music of life

It's a beautiful noise
And it's a sound that I love
And it makes me feel good
Just like a hand in a glove
Yes it does, yes it does
What a beautiful noise

Comin' into my room
And it's beggin' for me
Just to give it a tune


  1. I could hear your need for quiet!! Lol. I want to go home/ to the desert/ … I could feel the night murmuring sounds of summer. I once told Randy I enjoyed hearing them sitting on the patio at night. Summer sounds!! You cook well!! Love your clothes!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a day!

    That pizza looked AWESOME!, by the way !!!!! As was your recount of the day’s events. Very funny. I’m glad the rain stopped long enough to get wine – I was concerned…. LOL!!!!!

    Sounds like the combination of heat and lack of A/C (and motorcycles) is somewhat problematic…. As long as you don’t run out of wine and your sense of humour….

    Happy (short) dreams!

    Liked by 1 person

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