The northern Italian seaport city of Trieste boast a particlularly rich Jewish history. Trieste is one of the final stops on our Jewish heritage tour of Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia. On the morning when we visit Trieste, we depart from Ljubljana, and our drive through Istria takes us into neighboring Italy, where we spend a couple of hours in beautiful Trieste. In the 15th century, one of the town’s prominent Jews was the influential banker Isacco da Trieste. Notable 18th-century Jewish families included the Parente, Morpurgo, Luzzatto, and Levi. The town came to be know as Gateway to Zion due to its central role in the post-WWI emigration to Palestine. Trieste’s rich Jewish heritage is tangible in the town’s imposing Israelite Temple, one of Europe’s largest synagogues. James Joyce and his wife Nora arrived to Trieste in 1905 from nearby Pula, and ten years later Joyce started working on Ulysses.
The Jewish heritage of Trieste has been featured several times in Hadassah Magazine. Back in 2009, Esther Hecht published an excellent article which will come in handy for anyone planning a visit to Trieste and interested in exploring its Jewish heritage. Hecht’s itinerary starts at Piazza Unità d’Italia; invites readers to stop at Caffé degli Specchi, the iconic coffeeshop where luminaries James Joyce, Umberto Saba, and Italo Svevo would gather; leads you through the site of the historic Jewish ghetto; the Jewish museum, the old Jewish cemetery, and the Jewish school; and, of course, culminates with a visit of the grand and imposing Israelite Temple.
In 2022, Hadassah Magazine “revisited” Jewish Trieste, this time through the lens of travel writer Hilary Danailova. The result was another in-depth and astute journey through the wealth of Trieste’s Jewish heritage. In addition to a rich list of notable Jewish heritage sites, Danilova’s article highlighted the city’s distinct worldly and cosmopolitan spirit, the unique charm of its Canal
Grande, and the beautiful sunset over the Adriatic. Readers also get a recommendation to visit “Castello di Miramare, a Hapsburg palazzo with romantic balconies overlooking the water.”