Around the Adriatic: Italy - Trieste, Monday, 2019 April 15


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Europe » Italy » Friuli-Venezia Giulia » Trieste
April 15th 2019
Published: June 30th 2020
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Road to Hum Road to Hum Road to Hum

Lovely rolling hills
We had a late start at 10:00, which allowed me to write notes and others to go for a walk on the sea front.

We drove through the 5 km tunnel again. Coming out, Tomas pointed out the top of Mount Ucka shining in clear sun. After some highway travel, we turned onto a local road and then onto a single-lane, recently-asphalted road that wound in an intricate pattern through villages and local houses. That led to a narrow dirt road, bouncing the bus, and winding steeply to the tiny hill town of Hum. The current population is 23 people, although in the 12 century it was 1100. Apparently, Guinness has recognized it as the world’s smallest town.

Inside the high stone walls was the 18 century basilica and tower. Hum is where Glagolitic script was invented by two monks to help illiterate people read the bible. A rare text remains and samples of texts written in the script were on display. The interior was lovingly decorated with textiles and small statues.

On very lumpy cobblestones, we wandered the small, hilly streets, admiring pretty gardens showing spring blooms to advantage. Inevitably, we ended at the souvenir shop, our last
detail of main gatedetail of main gatedetail of main gate

Model of Hum, Glagolitic script
chance to spend kuna currency. Aura is a chain we have seen elsewhere. We were welcomed with samples of mistletoe brandy (smooth and strong) and red wine liqueur (a fine fruity taste). The shop was full of many flavoured brandies, truffle products, jams, honey and chocolate. I bought a small bottle of red wine liqueur and dark chocolate made with olive oil.

We drove away on a much better road, although still rather narrow. I asked Tomas about this, and he said they try never to use the same road twice. Big buses loaded with tourists used the paved road. Fortunately, we had avoided this inundation.

We drove back onto the main highway, but unfortunately the usual restaurant used on this trip was closed on Mondays. Tomas consulted the internet and found a possible alternative. We drove steeply uphill again to Buzet and walked up an even steeper street on lumpy cobbles around the town to near the church. Manka asked a passing woman about any open restaurant, because all seemed closed. She directed us down again to an ideal location. The Vela Vrata restaurant had a terrace with both sun and shade, letting everyone choose. We were inordinately grateful for sunshine after our snowy and rainy days last week. The menu listed dishes quite different from those in other places. My selection was pheasant cooked sous-vide (very mild and tender), served on bean puré, spinach on the side, and a bottle of local beer. All of us were feeling very mellow

Our next drive was ten minutes to the Slovenian border. This time our passports were examined for a length of time. Tomas was asked to pull the bus to one side and open the doors. The official approached, called each of our names and returned our passports individually. Probably he was just bored, because we saw his colleague reading an internet site about lawn-mowers on his work computer! Paul’s bus crossed with no issues.

Twenty minutes brought us to Hrastovlje to see a small, plain church adorned inside with incredible 15 century frescoes. During the Protestant reformation, the walls were deliberately plastered over; in 1949 they were rediscovered and cleaned. The only damage was where windows and doors had been cut, now filled in again. A pre-recorded English explanation was supplemented by an enthusiastic woman who knew the presentation so well she could use
Dance of Death Dance of Death Dance of Death

People of every station become mere skeletons after death
her laser pointer to emphasize the information as it was related. The ceiling paintings represent the eight days of the creation of the earth as told in the Bible. On the walls were painted medallions that showed each month as part of the cycle of the year. On one side at eye level was the Dance of Death, depicting skeletons holding hands in round dance style with representative citizens, such as a government official, a priest, a judge, and so on, with the obvious message that everyone will die and meet his maker. I would have liked another ten minutes to study the paintings in more detail, but time marched on for me, too.

After a short drive, we crossed into Italy without a border crossing, because we were in the European Union now. We stopped at a lookout to see the double harbour of Koper in Slovenia and Trieste in Italy. Still visible in the stunted growth of the trees was the ghostly reminder of the fence that used to mark the Iron Curtain.

Trieste is more industrial than I imagined. Our way into city was through gritty neighbourhoods festooned with graffiti on depressing buildings.

As
Hotel Milano, Trieste Hotel Milano, Trieste Hotel Milano, Trieste

We had the family room.
our hotel was truly in the city centre, without parking of any sort, we had to execute a lightning fast unloading of the buses, because it was illegal to stop on the street. Hotel Milano was sufficiently old to be charming – a faded elegance. Our room was very large, because it was filled with four beds, one almost blocking the entryway, making it difficult for Elizabeth to get her suitcase into the main room.

With our free time, we took a walk. Right outside our door was a large store that seemed the equivalent of an over-stocked dollar store. Of course, we had a look around.

Large buildings along the streets had little shops on the street front. Fashionable clothes adjoined motorcycle gear which nestled with souvenirs. We veered a little from the instructions for reaching the centre to walk along the harbour. At this late afternoon hour, a lot of people were lazing in the sunshine, chatting and laughing. At the harbour front, magnificent Austro-Hungarian buildings dominated the huge square, shining in their yellow-and-white and green-and-white designs.

We returned just in time for quick showers, only to walk back with the group to same area for
Trieste harbour - small boatsTrieste harbour - small boatsTrieste harbour - small boats

reclaimed Porto Vecchio area
an à la carte dinner. I shared an appetizer of octopus salad (very tender, lemon dressing) with Lelia and had spaghetti Bolognese for the main dish, with red wine. In our dark walk back along the streets, the breezy spring air felt a bit chilly.

View map of trip to date.


Additional photos below
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Main gate and bell tower of Hum,1562 Main gate and bell tower of Hum,1562
Main gate and bell tower of Hum,1562

defensive addition to town, dating from 1102
Main gate of Hum  Main gate of Hum
Main gate of Hum

Built anew in 1981
Assumption of Mary 1802 Assumption of Mary 1802
Assumption of Mary 1802

Parish church, that replace a former church
 simple altar  simple altar
simple altar

Assumption of Mary
Adorned pulpitAdorned pulpit
Adorned pulpit

Assumption of Mary
Aura Brandy Aura Brandy
Aura Brandy

special wares
Buzet Buzet
Buzet

Hill-top town
Pedestrian passage in BuzetPedestrian passage in Buzet
Pedestrian passage in Buzet

Well-polished by centuries
View from Buzet View from Buzet
View from Buzet

Wide valley amid steep green hills
Hrastovlje Valley Hrastovlje Valley
Hrastovlje Valley

our first view of Slovenia
Hrastovlje Hrastovlje
Hrastovlje

fortified hill town
Holy Trinity Church, Hrastovlje Holy Trinity Church, Hrastovlje
Holy Trinity Church, Hrastovlje

A medieval meditation in murals


7th July 2020

Slovenia got the short straw when it comes to access to the Adriatic, didn't they? Trieste and that little strip immediately north look like they should be Slovenian. Was that the bit that changed hands 4 times in as many decades? Anyway, it's lovely country with stunning old buildings. I bet you were glad of good walking shoes. My only extended experience with cobblestones was in Guatemala and I'm amazed I got out without turning an ankle.
7th July 2020

Trieste
All of these countries are very close together. Trieste is the city/area that changed nationalities so many times in early-mid part of the twentieth century. And, I do remember during the Dayton negotiations that Slovenia was adamant that it had to have access to the Adriatic.

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