/Trieste, City of Svevo and the Bora

Trieste, City of Svevo and the Bora

Trieste’s Piazza Unità d’Italia.

After two months in the States, I could have just stayed put in Rome, done housework, run errands, and gotten my sleep schedule back on track. But when my buddy Nat proposed meeting in Trieste, a city he had not been to in a decade and one which I had never visited, the offer was too good to pass up. Within 24 hours of landing in Rome, I was back at Fiumicino airport ready to depart once again.

I met Nat at the airport. He had flown in from New Orleans and god knows how he was still functioning. My week-long jet lag was in full effect. It is quite possible that the events that follow were mere hallucinations.

The frozen Adriatic Cost.

The short flight to Trieste was uneventful, save for the long descent along the Adriatic Coast that showcased a frozen coastline. I always thought moving water doesn’t freeze. This would not be the only preconceived notion that Trieste would undo.

We got settled at the hotel and had a bite eat at Buffet da Pepi, Trieste’s most famous dining destination. Behind a nondescript exterior, caludrons of brine contained pork in its myriad forms. Locals stopped in for a quick tongue sandwich on their feet or lingered for a plate of zampone dusted with fresh-shaved horseradish. We opted for the mixed platter of every cut of meat and scrap of pig they had. We submerged each bite in a smooth and mild mustard. The accompanying saurkraut was a caraway-seed-flavored dream.

Brined tongue with horseradish.

Full from our down-home meal and ready for a nap, we retreated to our 90F hotel room for a rest. Between the heat and jetlag, I could have slept for days, but we had places to go and people to see. Nat was the guest at an Italo Svevo conference that evening, so we bundled up and dragged our groggy pork-loving selves to the venue, Palazzo Gopcevich on the canal.

Nat talks Svevo.

On our way there we had our first proper introduction to the Bora, a wind so fierce it injured 10 people the day after my departure from Trieste (thankfully, the only harm it did to me was blowing away my lens cap). To be honest, I had never even heard of the Bora until Nat mentioned it a few weeks earlier when we were discussing our trip. Apparently it is synonymous with the city (what do I know?). He told me it could reach 220km/hr and routinely drives people to the brink of insanity. I thought that couldn’t be. Turns out I was wrong.

Pasticceria Saint Honore’s chocolate mouse cakes.

For the next three days we would just about survive the Bora. Another few days in town and I’m quite sure I would have gone insane. The wind was relentless and carried a chill that cuts to the bone. At times it is calm, then it creeps over and down the hills above Trieste and threatens to carry you away. In defiance of nature, we took the tram up to Villa Opicina above the city. In hindsight, approaching the Bora’s origins was a ridiculous act, but at least we found Pasticceria Saint Honore where a chocolate mousse cake, an ancient remedy against the Bora is made and sold.

2017-02-17T15:19:45+00:00 February 24th, 2012|Categories: Culture, Food & Wine, Travel|7 Comments


  1. Cindy February 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    My food-obsessed son ate at Buffet da Pepi this summer and raved!

  2. Mart February 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Ah Trieste has been high on my wishlist for years, even more after reading the pilars of hercules. Funny americans sending you around Italy (no offense). If you want to know about the winds that blow learn the names of all Volkswagens and you’ll have a nice collection.

  3. A Day Trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia February 29, 2012 at 3:06 am - Reply

    […] can feel the chills even now, as I write burrowed under a flanel duvet. After being frozen solid by the Bora in Trieste for a couple of days, my friend Nat and I decided to rent a car and head northeast to the Slovenian […]

  4. Bonnie March 1, 2012 at 4:45 am - Reply

    I was all set to go to Trieste from Rome a few years ago until I read about The Wind. Actually I hadn’t read about the Bora, but about the handrails installed around the city because of it. That was enough to scare me. I went to Lecce instead. I still want to visit Trieste (thank you, Jan Morris) but I just need to figure out when the wind doesn’t blow! Thanks for the post! That chocolate mouse cake might nudge me to visit as well.

  5. Katie March 5, 2012 at 11:42 am - Reply

    @cindy it’s pretty special. in the 40 minutes we were there eating, a hundred people must have come in and gotten a tongue sandwich to go. it is quite an institution!

    @mart whoa! i was not aware of that. ill never look at a jetta the same way:)

    @bonnie lecce is the best place on earth. i mean, 50 and sunny in the winter! c’mon! the bora is a winter thing and is quite an experience. to avoid it, check out the city in the summer months

  6. aventine March 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    I’m sorry to report that I was in Trieste on Friday February 24 and it was so warm that we took a nap on the pier!

  7. Travel Year in Review, 2012 January 3, 2013 at 12:08 am - Reply

    […] late February, Nat and I met up again, this time in Trieste. The bora was in full effect, but we survived its insanity-inducing gales only to nearly freeze to death in Ljubljana. This […]

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