This morning we went to Italy, or more precisely to Trieste. Now Trieste is not a place that’s on most people’s list of top ten, or even 100, paces they desperately want to visit – unless you are a history geek who is fascinated by the fact that it was for a time controlled by two countries.
It is quite a pretty drive through Slovenia, past hills surmounted by churches and little villages with traditional houses. Once you cross into Italy the roads get quickly smaller until you’re on tiny, twisty city roads with Italian drivers.
Trieste itself is nice enough but the short list of four or five ‘things to see’ is pretty much comprehensive. There is a huge plaza facing the sea; there is a long pier out into the sea; there is a short canal leading to the sea; and, for variety, a Roman ruin. I don’t think I’m being very unfair in saying once you’re spent thirty minutes walking around, you’ve seen it all.
We were in Italy so we stopped for coffee and had gelato and cannoli, which made the excursion to Italy totally worthwhile.
About halfway between Trieste and Ljubljana is a series of caves and one of them has a castle built into it. Predjama Castle is very, very lovely. It’s set in a verdant valley bisected by a river. There is a huge cliff-face dominated by a giant cave into which the castle was built. It was built in stages from around 800-500 years ago and had a colourful history being the seat of a ‘knight’ or ‘robber-baron’ depending on your viewpoint.
Now Predjama is just extremely picturesque both from the outside and from the inside looking out. The original cave still exists, and many of the internal walls are the original cliff walls. It must have been horrifyingly damp and cold back in the day, but I guess that was made up for by being very defensible.
As we drove back to Ljubljana the weather cleared and the Sun came out for the first time in days, revealing a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. Slovenia is really proving extraordinarily pretty.