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Trieste to Val Camonica – Day 3

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I left the house around 9am and followed the route to the Cattedrale di San Giusto. The other day I’d gotten a bit lost in this area, but this time had no trouble following the map to get to the castle. It’s quite a steep walk up as you reach it, and in the heat it can be difficult!

At the back of the cathedral there was a great view over the city, stretching outwards towards the sea. While I sat to rest my feet, two Italian women arrived and started making excited phone calls to their relatives to tell them they were in Trieste. So funny listening… 🙂 Nearby were a set of what looked like Roman ruins, with a few people milling about within them. A couple of kiosks selling drinks and souvenirs were also being set up.

Walking down the other side of the cathedral, I reached the Via del Teatro Romano, and walked over to find the theatre and the Arco di Riccardo, an old Roman arch. I bought an Illy coffee flavoured ice cream (delicious!) from a small gelateria and went to window shop a second hand bookstore/antiques shop.

I walked up to Piazza Oberdan, from which you can catch a tram that takes you uphill to the small village of Opicina north of Trieste. When I arrived, the tram was already waiting outside a small cafĂ© in the square. I popped in to buy a ticket and some water (seriously, I’ve lost count of many bottles of water I’ve bought!), but the tram left while I was inside.

After about twenty minutes or so, the next tram arrived and we went on our way. Most, if not all, of the passengers were tourists. The tram went steeply uphill, and I felt myself sliding across the seat, and had to be careful not to collide into the person sat next to me.

Getting to the stop in Opicina, I got out and popped into the cafĂ©. The TV was on, showing the RAI news. Two middle-aged men were talking politics and their topic turned to the British referendum on the EU. One of them said “ah questi inglesi…sono vent’anni che ci rompono i coglioni!” (Oh, these British…they’ve been busting our balls for twenty years!). I tried hard not to laugh and wondered whether to intervene and tell them about how we’ve been ‘busting their balls’ by giving work to so many unemployed young Italians…

Anyway, moving swiftly on… 🙂

I probably should’ve come out of the cafe and explored the area, but given time was limited, I decided to head back to Trieste. I’m not sure there’s actually much of interest up there anyway—it’s the tram itself that is the attraction.

Back down in Trieste, I decided to go to Piazza Liberta’—not too far, after all—to buy a train ticket to Brescia for the next morning. I was pleased to see that there is a direct route.

Afterwards, I walked along the promenade to the Canal Grande, where I popped into a small souvenir shop and picked up some postcards for my ‘postcard wall’ back home. Walking west along the promenade from Unita’ d’Italia, I arrived at the pier where the tourist ferries were heading towards Muggia and Sistiana. The next boat was just about to leave, but I checked the timetable and decided to have lunch first before coming back.

The timetable posted outside said that the boat would arrive at a place called Barcola at 5:45pm, then Grignano at 6:10pm, and finally Sistiana at 6:50pm. Unfortunately, the last boat of the day would then leave Sistiana at 6:55pm for the reverse journey back to Trieste, leaving me all of 5 minutes to enjoy the place…I decided I would instead hop off at Grignano and spend an hour there while waiting for the boat to come back at 7:30pm.

All well and good, right? Well we’ll see…

I found a nice restaurant tucked away in a rather windy area off the Piazza Unita’ d’Italia, and sat down for lunch: melon and prosciutto for starters (I love this!), mixed fish grill for mains, and a chocolate crepe for dessert. As I ate, I realised I was actually the only one in the outdoor area of this restaurant. It was around two o’clock now, and most people wouldn’t be eating at this hour! Besides, I realised they might well be closing soon for their afternoon nap.

After I finished my dessert, an age seemed to pass where there was no sign of the waitress. I didn’t mind so much as I was happy just to sit for a while and watch the world go by, as one does…However, I eventually began to wonder what on earth I was supposed to do. In the end, I got up and wandered over to the restaurant entrance, tucked away in a side street from where I had been sitting. It was all dark inside, but there was someone there doing cleaning. Luckily, she had my bill on the counter (the waitress had left it there…), but as they didn’t accept credit cards I had to trudge out to go looking for a bancomat.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the rest of that. Having paid, I bought a bottle of water and headed off to the port to catch the boat to Sistiana. It was now half past five. I was clearly still digesting my big seafood meal, and I drank lots of water on board to help me along. I got a bit drowsy in the heat and closed my eyes on and off for a bit. The boat arrived at Barcola, and I perked up to make sure I got off at the next stop, Grignano.

The boat went back onto the water and eventually made its next stop. I got off and wandered onto the pier. There was a backdrop of trees everywhere, in front of which were a row of little kiosks selling food and drink of all sorts, including one that looked like a little outdoor pub. Before settling for a drink, I decided to wander a bit and explore the area. Walking along the pier and the nearby car park, I arrived at this luxury resort area with lots of new buildings. I was slightly curious to see that many of the signs said Sistiana rather than Grignano, but I guessed that was just due to Sistiana being the name of the area as a whole.

At this point, walking back to the kiosks, I checked my watch. To my surprise, it said 7:15pm. I was surprised by how fast time had gone by, since I knew the boat coming back was arriving at 7:30. Oh well, I thought. Then, as I again began looking at the signs saying Sistiana, I realised…

I wasn’t in Grignano. I was in Sistiana…

I’d obviously dozed off at some point during the boat trip and missed a stop.

Oh dear. This meant that the boat that had left was the last boat of the day back to Trieste. I just stood there for a few minutes, wondering how on earth this had happened. For all I knew I was in the middle of nowhere. I trudged back to the car park, trying to think about how I was going to get back. That’s when I noticed a bus stop not far from where the kiosks were. Checking the timetable, I saw that a bus towards Trieste would be stopping here at around 8pm. However, it seemed a bit dubious that a bus would actually come here, but you couldn’t argue with the sign and the timetable!

Reassured that I had some transport after all, I stopped at the mini-pub to have a glass of wine (my first of the trip!). In the meantime, I kept glancing at the car park to see if the bus was arriving. As 8pm came round, I began to worry, as there was no sign of any bus. Maybe it was just late? I waited and waited, then decided to ask the bartender, who said that she didn’t think the bus stopped here anymore. I went again to check the timetable in the car park, and realised I’d read it incorrectly. The bus didn’t stop here after 6pm during the summer, so I’d missed the last bus as well.

Sigh…

The sun was beginning to set, and I began thinking about what to do. Spend the night in Sistiana? Unfortunately that would mean missing my train to Brescia at 6am and also inconveniencing Alessandra and her brother, who were driving from Val Camonica to pick me up.

I went to ask one of the bartenders on the row, and at first my heart sank when he told me that there were definitely no buses from here to Trieste. However, he said that I could catch a bus every half hour from Sistiana—the town. I could get there by taxi or by walking up a long series of steps through the surrounding forested area.

Just great. Luckily it wasn’t sunny anymore, which although spared me climbing in the heat, meant I had to walk through trees in the fading light. Still, these areas can’t be too dangerous, right?!

After a ten minute climb, and having to cross a main road at one point, I arrived in Sistiana itself. The bus stop was just yards away. Almost the moment I got there, I saw the bus for Trieste arriving. Talk about a bit of good luck for a change!

Finally, I got back, shattered after a long, hot day, but full of activity!

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Born and raised in Scotland, Hamish lives in London and works in the hectic world of the financial industry. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, eating out, swimming, dancing the tango, and, of course, planning his next trip to Italy.

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