It was the first time I was leaving the country on my own, I was going to live away from my parents and from home for what seemed at the moment such a long time (6 months) and the first time I was getting in a plane on a one-way trip by myself with only one (terribly) heavy luggage I couldn’t carry. I didn’t speak the language that well (or at least I lacked the confidence to try it), I didn’t know my flatmate whom I was going to meet at the train station upon my arrival, but I was not scared at all, to the contrary, my heart was bursting with excitement.
The country was Italy, the place Trieste. And after a few months there, I knew my heart will join James Joyce’s and will live forever in this magical gem city: “…la mia anima è a Trieste!” (my soul is in Trieste). I fell in love hopelessly, right from the moment I dragged my heavy luggage up the hill on a rainy cold January evening, carefully observing the narrow street and counting the stairs I would have to take everyday, just to realize the apartment I was going to live in was romantically set next to a castle, overseeing the sea, almost torn from a story.
The city has an all Italian flavor to it, from the big central square where people meet up before aperitivo, to the Illy coffee shop and the oh so crowded gelaterias, straight to the narrow colorful streets going up to San Giusto Castle. Even so, Trieste is at a crossroad of cultures, having a lot of influences besides the obvious Italian ones: Germanic (having been the fourth largest city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and Slavic (being a stone’s throw away from the Slovenian border).
That summer was carefree, it is only a pity one realizes it once the moment is gone. Long lazy days passed by and I’ve spent them fighting for my life during the Bora winds, enjoying traditional wine and dine at the osmizas during spring, getting wonderfully tanned during the summer days and getting hopelessly lost in the book antique stores whenever hunger for books struck. I’ve learned that food is love, best shared with friends; that one does not have to spend a lot of money to gain the greatest memories in life; I’ve learned that the small things make us the happiest.
People tell you all the time stories about life-changing experiences, but you refuse to believe something similar will happen to you, even if deep down inside your heart you cling on to hope. It might not have been Thailand or the Philippines, but this was my half of year spent in a Paradise filled with old buildings and intensely flavored coffee.