Trieste, Grado, and sliding into summer


in the woods above the Strada Napoleonica


Summer is here, and the weather is hot again. Getting up into the woods off the beaten trail was nice, as always. A lot has been going on in the world and I’ve done a bit of traveling. I’ve been wandering a bit in Trieste, as well, and finally got up to tour some of the Castello San Giusto and the cathedral with some of the folks from the local Internations group.

The original cathedral was built in the 6th century, adjacent to what had been a temple of the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.


Roman ruins at the cathedral and castle of San Giusto, tower dating to 1337

The original church is long gone. Two basilicas were built there between the 9th and 11th centuries, and the base of the current church and a bit of the artwork inside date back to the 12th and 14th centuries. Mosaics and paintings from several periods remain on the walls within.


17th century wrought iron gate to the treasury


cathedral interior – paintings from 17th century


San Giusto Servolo and Christ Pantocrator, 14th century


candles in San Giusto


13th century frescoes from the life of San Giusto

To help preserve the artwork, lights are only turned on in some areas for a minute or two at a time if you drop a euro in the control box. The background of the mosaics in the two apses is brilliantly reflective in bronze tones, and was made by artisans from Venice and Constantinople. There is a central mosaic over the nave as well, made in the 20th century but with what look like similar materials.

The castle overlooks the cathedral and the city of Trieste. There’s a civic museum inside but the entrance for the museum and the castle are separate. I didn’t pay to go into the museum, just the castle grounds.


detail from the castle bell


bell ringer detail


Trieste and the carso from the castle


roses and lizard on the castle grounds


Trieste observatory tower from the castle

That weekend, the Amerigo Vespucci was in port. She is the oldest commissioned ship in the Italian navy, a square-rigger built in 1930 and has been used as a training vessel that circumnavigated the globe in 2002-2003. The lines to go aboard were over an hour long every day that she was in port, so I never did have a chance to go and visit her, but one of the guys I was hanging out with that day had actually sailed aboard her many years ago. Her full crew and training compliment are 480 people.


Amerigo Vespucci in port in Trieste

June brought the Cantine Aperte, and several of us met in Gorizia to head out on the wine road again. We tasted and snacked our way around the area. We stopped at one of the vinyards that had a restaurant open when we were there two years ago, but the restaurant wasn’t open this past year. They did, however, recommend a really nice restaurant not that far away.


Dave, Sere, and the antipasti


vineyard roses on a rainy day


wine barrels

The day was rainy, with lots of breaks between the weather. We ate inside the restaurant rather than going al fresco, which was a good choice, as a huge thunderstorm blew through while we were eating. The rain pounded down on the roof, and the people outside had to deal with the wind blowing the umbrellas around.

A couple of weeks later, we were off to Grado, a small beach resort town on the coast between Trieste and Venice. The place was packed with Austrians. It has a gorgeous sandy beach, and a lot of really lovely looking restaurants.


the beach at Grado

We toured the Basilica of Sant’Euphemia there, with early floor mosaics similar to the ones in Aquileia. The original basilica dated from the 4th century, though parts of the current one were built in the 6th and 7th centuries.


6th century floor mosaic


the pulpit of the basilica


a quiet piazza


boreto and polenta at one of the traditional castrum restaurants in Grado

Boreto is a traditional dish made by the families of the Grado fishermen with whatever fish they had to hand. There’s some garlic, oil, salt and pepper, usually, and the fish (or sometimes shellfish) is stewed and served with polenta. Depending on the fish, the flavor could at times be quite strong – as might the scent! We ate at the Ristorante Alla Pace, in the heart of their tourist district. The food was good, and it was our last outing with Gillian, who was done teaching English for the school year and would be heading back to Liverpool to consider what she wanted to do next.

And, because the world is often a cruel place, as well as containing a lot of beauty and wonder, Trieste had a vigil in memory of the 49 people who died in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. I attended and I think there were a couple of hundred other folks there as well. The memorial was sponsored by the local Arcigay group.



memorial for the murder victims of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, in Piazza Sant’Antonio Nuovo, Trieste

Not long after, I headed out to London for the London Occult Conference. I came down with a nasty cold the day before I flew out, though, and didn’t really have the energy to cope with taking photos. Mostly I was concerned with staying upright and trying as best I could to keep my germs to myself. I did get to see two friends from Seattle, though, and a couple of friends from New York as well. I also had dinner with a couple of my World of Warcraft friends, which was fun. I’ll be heading back to London in late September for the Sherlocked con, and am hoping I’ll have a little more energy for that when I do, but my mom will be here for the three weeks prior to that, so I will probably be running my butt off to keep up with her!

And, lastly, a couple of bits of art for your edification and amusement.


notice for an art exhibit of goddesses in Trieste by Rossella Paolini


carved stone warrior based on the Papil Stone in Scotland by Dave Migman





Rewind: August, 2012

I’d only been to Europe once before, in 2007. I’d been given a trip to Ireland by a friend who ended up having to move the same week as the tour she’d booked. She couldn’t get a refund and called me up out of the blue, saying, “If you can get yourself to New York and back, you can have this trip to Ireland. I want someone to have it who would really appreciate it.”

I said yes, of course. I had the time, and managed to pull together enough money for a round trip ticket to New York in very short order. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you it took magic.

Last year, I went back to Ireland, this time to lead a pilgrimage to sacred sites. Since I would already be in Europe, and since the pilgrimage organizers were paying for my flight to Dublin and back to Seattle, I asked if it mattered where I flew home from. “No,” they said. “We don’t mind, we’ll book your round trip ticket.”

“How does Venice sound? Then I can visit my brother.”

They were agreeable, so I spent a couple of months planning my couch-surf across Europe as we planned our pilgrimage and our writing exercises.

My second trip to Europe was as much a gift as my first. In July and August of 2012, I traveled around Ireland with the pilgrimage for ten days, then took a ferry to the Isle of Man, where I spent the better part of a week in a backpacking tent, with gales blowing every night. I sailed to Liverpool and took a train north to visit some friends in England — Pendle Hill and the Lake District and Penrith. I flew from Manchester to Brittany and stayed with friends there, in a village whose population consisted of ten people and eight dogs. A few days later, I was on a plane again, visiting friends who teach English in Prague.

My brother lives in Italy. He’s been stationed at the Air Force base at Aviano off and on for the better part of twenty years. He drove up to Prague to pick me up and we road tripped south through Austria, spent the night in Salzburg during the Mozart festival, and the next day ended up at his place in Montereale Valcellina, a small town at the foot of the Dolomites, not far outside the base.

I spent four days in Italy. We went to Venice, and out to Aquileia, had a snack in the walled city of Palmanova, and visited the small mountain town of Poffabro, where I took the photo that heads the blog here. I walked the shores of Lake Barcis. I saw an entire river emerging from the side of a mountain, and walked along a stream rising from the deep underwater cave of Gorgazzo.

I had wonderful food and met some delightful and very friendly people. The mountains were gorgeous, the scenery was beautiful, and I was enchanted by Italy, though after Prague I will admit I was a bit cathedraled out. We visited Murano instead of St Mark’s, and I don’t regret it. I think I would not have appreciated St Mark’s half as much after St Vitus’s cathedral at Prague Castle. I needed a rest before I dealt with that much artistic intensity again.

I wanted to spend more time in Venice, and thought that perhaps in a year or so I might be able to spend a couple of months there to see all the things I didn’t have time for in our one day lightning visit. I talked with my brother about the idea after I got home to Everett and he said, “If you really mean it, I’ll help you find a way to do it. Just let me know.”

I never imagined that I would actually be moving to Italy a little over a year later.

I get on a plane in six weeks. I’ve been selling nearly everything. I’ve packed my library for shipping — you can’t expect a poet to live without her books, after all. They are the bulk of what I’ll be taking with me.

When I arrive, I’ll be living with my brother until I get my own apartment. He’s in a small town and I need to be in a city, where I can walk to things, and where I can get public transit for the things I can’t walk to. But I love cities, and the thought excites me and sets my heart alight.

I’ll need to come back for my dog once I’ve settled in my own place, as I can’t bring him with me initially. I’m already dealing with paperwork and looking at my options for transporting him. Even after having been in the military many years ago, the process of getting my residence visa and dealing with everything that needs doing before I get on that plane has been a huge project; it’s one I’ll talk about in other posts. The work of it won’t be over when I arrive in Italy. There’s so much still to do.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey.