Trieste itinerary: James Joyce’s locations
City of borders and culture, of coffee and writers: there are many famous writers linked to the city of Trieste, sometimes by birth, others by choice of life. So why not discover Trieste with a real literary itinerary?
Following in the footsteps of one of its most popular adoptive citizens, the writer James Joyce, you can get to know many of the places that inspired the works of the Irish artist and at the same time explore Trieste with a day trip.
The Trieste of James Joyce: what to see
The Berlitz School
Only a few steps separate the DoubleTree by Hilton Trieste from the Berlitz School, at number 32 in San Nicolò street, which can therefore be a perfect starting point for this literary itinerary to discover the places of Joyce.
A job as English teacher at the Berlitz School brought Joyce to Trieste for the first time, between 1904 and 1905. Although he held the job for just a couple of years, the school, its staff and students played a key role in the writer’s career during his decade in Trieste. His brother Stanislaus also worked there after James convinced him to join him in Trieste, and the director of the school Almidano Artifoni later appeared in “Ulysses” as the music teacher of Stephen Dedalus.
The statue of Joyce in Trieste and the Caffè Stella Polare
Walking towards the Grand Canal of Trieste you then reach the Ponterosso. In the nearby Piazza Ponterosso there is the first apartment where James Joyce and his companion Nora Barnacle lived in the city, and in the same area you can also visit the Caffè Stella Polare, one of the most famous historical cafés in Trieste.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Caffè Stella Polare was frequented by the staff of the Berlitz School and, like other similar places in Trieste, it was a popular meeting place for local intellectuals, including of course Joyce himself. For this reason, at the centenary of the writer’s arrival in the city, in 2004 the municipality of Trieste decided to place a statue dedicated to Joyce right on the Ponterosso. Nino Spagnoli’s work represents the writer while walking on the bridge and the engraving at the base shows the words of a letter to Nora: “…my soul is in Trieste“.
The Pirona pastry shop and Il Piccolo
While working as an English teacher, James Joyce took advantage of every free moment to continue his early literary activity. The historic cafes of Trieste were among Joyce’s favorite places to write: in addition to the aforementioned Caffè Stella Polare, he often frequented the Caffè Pirona. The pastry shop is located a few steps from one of the apartments occupied by Joyce for a period, at number 32 of Largo Barriera Vecchia above the pharmacy Picciòla, which still exists.
Nearby, in Via Silvio Pellico, there is also the historical headquarters of the newspaper Il Piccolo. The director of the evening edition, Roberto Prezioso, was one of Joyce’s first pupils at the Berlitz School and soon became his friend.
The house of Via Bramante
During their years in Trieste Joyce and Barnacle lived in 8 different apartments, often for very short periods, and each of them is marked today by a plaque – as well as many other buildings connected in some way to the life of Trieste writers.
The house in which the Joyce family spent most time, from 1912 to 1915, is located at number 4 of Via Bramante: at that time the writer worked at the Revoltella High School of Commerce thanks to the contact of his friend Italo Svevo, and as recalls the plaque here “he wrote something”: “the first episode of the new book Ulysses was wrote“.
The Joyce Museum in Trieste
If the wanderings and the works of the Irish writer have fascinated you, the conclusion of the itinerary dedicated to the places of Joyce in Trieste can only be his museum. The Joyce Museum is located in Via Madonna del Mare 13 and in addition to collecting materials related to the writer’s life in Trieste, is responsible for organizing various events, celebrations and readings. On the official website of the museum you can also find several other hints on the Trieste of Joyce, to continue your literary itinerary with other stops and insi