Just 20 minutes south of Portopiccolo lies Trieste, the region’s vibrant capital.

This is a city of good food and even better coffee. A place where locals fill the squares and parks, swapping stories and enjoying the balmy breezes that float in from the North Adriatic. Trieste’s position on Italy’s eastern frontier has made it one of Europe’s most culturally unique cities, with a history that stretches from the Romans, through the 500-year period of Hapsburg occupation, and all the way to modern day Italy. As such, the city never ceases to inspire, and Trieste has served as the muse of artists from Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba to James Joyce, who lived here while he worked on his masterpiece, Ulysses.

Start your day with a visit to Castelo di Miramare, just outside the city. This fanciful, neo-Gothic castle is famous for its beautiful botanical gardens and the storied history of its tragic owner, Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Inside, you’ll find an eclectic mix of styles and architecture that reflects the tastes of the imperial age, from oriental-inspired salons to a throne room lined with lush red silks.

Back in town, there’s an abundance of museums and art galleries to explore, as well as a rich selection of shops, boutiques and restaurants. Explore the fascinating collection of modern art at the Revoltella Museum or step back in time at the Museo Storico. Whichever you decide on, you’ll find Trieste’s welcoming streets to be ideal for exploring on foot.

For spectacular vistas across Trieste and beyond, the “Napoleonica” should not missed. This gentle walking trail winds through the hills and clifftops surrounding the city, deliver breath-taking views of the rooftops below and some of the best Adriatic viewing points anywhere in the region.