A little guide to Trieste, Italy

Travel 25.01.2022
Canal Grande di Ponterosso, Trieste

By Liljia Polo-Richards

“Tumbling down to the Adriatic from a wild, karstic plateau and almost entirely surrounded by Slovenia, Trieste is physically and psychologically isolated from the rest of the Italian peninsula. As such, it preserves its own unique border-town culture and retains a fascinating air of fluidity encapsulated in the Triestini dialect, a strange melange of Italian, Austrian-German, Croatian and Greek.” Lonely Planet

This is my gorgeous home town, the place where I spent the first 19 years of my life before moving to the UK to study. For those of you who have not heard of Trieste, you honestly should look it up – it is a beautiful city by the sea on the Adriatic coast, nicely positioned right next to the Slovenian border and only a couple of hours away from Venice. You can easily get a direct flight to the local airport from London Stansted, unless you wish to fly to Venice to then jump on a train to reach the city.

I never thought I would write a blog about Trieste, and certainly I never expected to write a blog that offers useful tips for people avoiding gluten or suffering from food allergies. As I speak Italian perfectly, with it being my first language, and having spent so much of my life in Trieste, it makes perfect sense for me to offer you some tips on what to expect and where you can go if you are planning a trip to Italy soon. 

Things that pleasantly surprised me

One of the things I absolutely love about Italy is the clarity of information disclosed on any food products you buy in shops. Expect very clear labelling, no matter what you are buying: bread, biscuits, chocolate, pasta, ready-made meals, you name it – pretty much anything you see in shops and supermarkets gives you the information you need on allergens contained in products and may contain warnings.

I found the same level of detail to be adopted by the majority of bakeries and delicatessens that had food on display – to me, it felt that there was a much higher level of information offered to the consumer. It didn’t mean that more options were available to those avoiding certain allergens, but at least you knew what you could and couldn’t buy. More UK establishments should learn from Italy, for sure!

Things that I wish were better over there (not that they are better this side of the continent!):

The experience of going for a spontaneous coffee and cake is certainly not what we experienced while we were in Trieste. If you don’t have any dietary concerns, Trieste is home to a number of beautiful bakeries and coffee shops, where you can indulge in the most amazing cakes… all day long. Unfortunately, our experience of enjoying sitting in one of the local cafes was limited to having a cappuccino and freshly squeezed orange juice. People who suffer with allergies have little choice, as pretty much all the cakes are made in an environment that handles gluten, milk, eggs, nuts and peanuts, to name a few allergens!

We resorted to bringing our own treats, and the Fodilicious mini cookies followed us wherever we went so that our boy could enjoy them while sipping his freshly squeezed juice. At least we could soak up the coffee shop atmosphere in some way! Be careful if you suffer with a peanut allergy – the majority of cafes tend to serve peanuts with your aperitif, so make sure you tell them you have an allergy to “arachidi” or “noccioline” before they bring your drinks. If you are a coffee lover, always look out for the “Illy” sign outside coffee shops, it’s the best coffee brand you can ask for and it is also from Trieste.

Here is a list of our favourite cafes, even if you can’t indulge in the cakes:

For those suffering with coeliac disease, there are a couple of gluten-free bakeries you can try:

While we there, we enjoyed eating at the following places:

Where can I sleep in Trieste?

We stayed with family during our visit to Trieste, but decided to treat ourselves and booked a night at the new DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. The hotel has recently opened, so it still feels very new. It’s in a gorgeous building, which was home to a bank for many years before being redeveloped as a hotel. The rooms are spacious, modern and with sleek interiors, and incredibly reasonable for the price you pay (£230 per night with breakfast for 2 large deluxe rooms). We wish we could have stayed there for longer! We only had breakfast at the hotel, which was delicious, and there was plenty of choice with all the options clearly labelled. Make sure you call them in advance to discuss all your dietary requirements so they can make sure they can offer you some safe options during your stay. I thought the staff at the restaurant/breakfast room were all incredibly professional and even showed interest in some of the products we had with us, which were nut free, and took pictures of them so they could buy them for the hotel! Highly recommend.

What are the top 14 allergens called in Italian?

If you are in a shop or need to explain to a restaurant what you are allergic to, here are the top 14 allergens in Italian:

I really hope you enjoyed reading my blog. If you have any comments or you would like to publish your story on our website, please get in touch