An itinerary along the border, a bike route partially in Slovenia, less so in Italy, that takes you from Trieste to Capodistria (Koper) and to Isola d’Istria (Izola) returning to Trieste.
Point of departure is the FS train station at Trieste, where nowadays the train line from Venice terminates. On the piazzale in front of the station, in the middle of the garden, is a statue of Empress Elisabeth (popularly known as “Sissi”) that recalls the Habsburg roots of this city, that for centuries was the only outlet to the sea and the principal port of the Austrian Empire.
To reach the border the quickest route is the one that cuts through the city, first as Via Carducci and then as Via D’Annunzio. You climb gently until you reach a tunnel; once through this you descend traveling along the harbor and the Palatrieste as far as the village of Aquilinia. Here it is better to avoid the tunnel which passes underneath the village, instead bear right and then turn immediately left towards the custom house at Rabuiese. This first stretch of the route is plagued with motor traffic; pay vigilant attention to the road. Trieste strikes me as one of the least bike-friendly cities that I know; no trace of any bike lanes; no information whatsoever for the cyclist.
An alternative to avoid crossing through the city has been shared with me, but I haven’t tried it myself: from the station exit to the right and go along the lungomare [seaside road] as far as the pier of the pescheria [fish market]; from here take the boat operated by Trieste-Trasporti towards Muggia. In half an hour you will arrive in Muggia, from where in a few kilometers, again, you will reach the custom house of Rabuiese.(*)
The bike route starts immediately across the border: a blue sign indicates route D-8 towards Skofije. Since automobile traffic has been directed onto the autostrada [expressway], the cyclist therefore can take the older and more peaceful road which climbs up to the village of Skofije (75 m/246 feet asl) and from there descend towards the bay of Capodistria; from this road you enjoy sweeping panoramas, first of the Gulf of Trieste, then of the harbor of Capodistria.
Following the markers for the D-8 route you reach, with some ups and downs, the village of Bertoki (Bertocchi) and then the outskirts of Capodistria and its lungomare.
Capodistria (from the Latin Caput Istriae) [Istria head, RB] for five centuries was under Venetian rule and for one century Austrian; since 1991 it has been part of the republic of Slovenia with the name Koper; the Venetian imprint is still evident in its historic center, and in particular in the central Piazza Tito, with the Palazzo Pretorio, where the podestà resided, with its loggia in front; the other sides of the piazza are defined by a cathedral with its attractive campanile [bell tower] and the main building of the university.
From the lungomare of Capodistria bike route D-8 continues along the sea, wedged between the main road and the rocks along the seashore; in 6 km/3.7 miles you reach the village of Isola d’Istria, a small village perched on a low hill overlooking the sea. It’s a shame that today the village is almost completely hidden by boats and the port facilities.
To go back you could take the same route as you came, as far as Capodistria and to the customhouse at Rabuiese; but, if you have extra time, take a side trip to the peninsula of Ancarano and Muggia and then rejoin the original route at Aquilinia.
Latest visit May 6, 2007