Trieste In Five Books To Enjoy This Summer

Illustration: Sofi Deyneka
Reading Time: 3 minutes

by Theodora Negrea

The InTrieste Summer Reading List is back! In last year’s summer edition, I shared with you six titles to try out during those warm days of dolce far niente. This year I’m back with five more books that you can grab from a local library or bookshop, and take with you on a trip to one of the city’s beaches, parks, benches, or sidewalks (we won’t judge!). As always, grab your beverage of choice and dive into this list of literary perspectives on the city of Trieste.

“Svevo and Trieste” by Jan Morris is a great place to start your exploration. This book focuses on the city’s most famous literary figure, Italo Svevo, and provides a fascinating look at Trieste through his eyes. Svevo’s novels, such as “Zeno’s Conscience” (included in the last year’s Reading List), offer a unique perspective on Trieste’s history and culture. Morris, an accomplished travel writer, delves into Svevo’s life and work and paints a vivid portrait of Trieste as a city of artists and intellectuals. Try reading it during a walk through Miramare castle, or sitting on a bench in Parco della Rimembranza.

For a more literary take on Trieste, “Trieste: A Novel” by Dasa Drndic is a compelling choice. This novel tells the story of a woman searching for information about her father, who disappeared during World War II. Along the way, the reader is treated to a richly detailed portrait of Trieste and its complex history. Drndic’s writing is poetic and evocative, and the novel’s exploration of memory and identity is sure to resonate with anyone interested in the city’s past.

This book simply asks to be read in one of the city’s literary cafes – so pay a visit to Antico Caffè San Marco and hide from the heat inside its solid walls.

While not exactly a light summer read, for those interested in literature and history, and eager to find out more about Trieste through those two lenses, “Modernism in Trieste: The Habsburg Mediterranean and the Literary Invention of Europe, 1870-1945 (New Directions in German Studies)” by Salvatore Pappalardo can be an interesting quest. This book examines the idea of Europe in the modernist literature of primarily Robert Musil, Italo Svevo, and James Joyce (but also of Theodor Däubler and Srecko Kosovel), all authors who had a deep connection with the port city of Trieste. To tackle this book, I recommend grabbing a few highlighters and visiting the Biblioteca Civica Attilio Hortis. You’ll have peace and quiet guaranteed to dive into the history-filled pages!

For a more personal take on Trieste, “The World in the Evening” by Christopher Isherwood is a must-read. Although the novel is not set exclusively in Trieste, it is partly inspired by Isherwood’s time living in the city and includes vivid descriptions of its landscape and culture. He moved to the city in 1929 to work as a private tutor for a wealthy family and stayed there for several months before moving on to Berlin. Isherwood’s writing is poetic and introspective, and his exploration of the themes of memory and identity are particularly relevant to anyone interested in Trieste’s complex history. Grab a reading spot at Molo Audace during late afternoon hours and dive in while waiting for the sunset.

Finally, “Borderliners” by Peter Hoeg is a novel that explores Trieste’s identity as a crossroads between different cultures and nations. While the majority of the novel is set in Denmark, a significant portion takes place in Trieste, and the city’s unique character and history are woven throughout the narrative. Hoeg’s writing is both gripping and insightful, and his exploration of the tensions between different cultures and identities is particularly relevant in today’s globalized world. To enjoy this read, visit the Caffè Umberto Saba on Corso Umberto Saba nr. 30, and grab the comfy couch as your reading spot for a few hours (and try their delicious cakes!).

Whether you’re a history buff, a literature lover, or simply interested in exploring new places and cultures, Trieste is a city that is well worth getting to know. By reading these books, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the city’s rich history and culture, and be inspired to explore its many museums, galleries, and cultural events. So why not add a few of these titles to your summer reading list and discover the magic of Trieste for yourself?

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Theodora Negrea
I'm Theo, a 'part-time' digital nomad working remotely for a tech company and currently living between the Netherlands and Italy. I enjoy traveling and exploring cities and nature alike. I love languages and find myself learning a new one rather often (Italian was actually my COVID-19 project). My long-standing passions include reading, hiking, museums, and the outdoors. You can always wake me up for an early-morning hike to catch a beautiful sunrise on a peak somewhere or for any conversations about words, languages, books, or art.


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