My father is Italian (the -talian part of “Chitalian”), and several years ago, my parents decided to move back to Italy for my father’s work. This has positives and negatives, as I still live in the United States. Negative: it’s much harder to have quick little family get-togethers. Positive: sometimes, I get to go wine tasting in a Castle. Not something most US-residents get to say often!! During my 2012 Christmas trip to Italy to see my parents with my friend P, we got to do just that!
A short way from Trieste, Duino is a small town, that I’ve become more acquainted with over the years. Not to far from where my parents first lived when they returned to Italy, this is where they chose to buy a house, after renting an apartment for a few years. It’s a small municipality (the official name is Duino-Aurisina), located near the border of Slovenia, and as a result boasts a blending of Italian and Slovenian culture.
Probably the most significant and noteworthy feature of this area is that it overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Fresh seafood abounds, so for the seafood lover (like me) there are tons of good eats available! Not only that, but you are treated to spectacular views of the waterfront, and the occasional encounter with a Swan. So far, I have had no problems with the swans, but I’ll admit to being a little afraid of these birds, as I have seen first-hand in Zürich how mean they can be, when one stole part of my sandwich right out of my hand! But in Duino, the only Swan encounters I have witnessed have been friendly – maybe as long as you are willingly giving them your food, they’ll stay friendly?
This little municipality is home to a castle, the Castello di Duino is the private residence of the Princes della Torre and Tasso (von Thurn and Taxis) and parts of it are open to the public to visit. The castle dates back to 1300, when it was built on the ruins of a Roman military outpost. There are tours available, if you want to get the history of the place – though I have actually never taken one, so I can’t speak to how good they are myself. I have walked through the castle several times though, reading the signs and learning about the history. And we did that a little on my most recent trip…. But on that visit, that was not our primary purpose!
My mother had learned that the castle hosts events from time to time – and on this occasion, for a very small fee (I think it might have been somewhere around 10Euro per person), you get entry to the castle and admission to a wine tasting. Now, this region of Italy is home to many different vineyards and wineries, and the event we attended featured regional wines. We were a little bit disappointed to find that there weren’t many Prosecco wines to taste, as we were on the border of the Prosecco making region, but we did enjoy sampling local reds and whites, a some local holiday treats – breads, spreads, cakes and cookies. It was a lovely little event, in a cave-like room, and even my mother, who is not a big drinker, sampled a selection of wines and quite enjoyed herself! Overall, we enjoyed the castle, the walk around town, the wine tasting, and the beautiful views we were treated to, visiting the castle around sunset. All in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon/evening!
But like all good things, this too had to come to an end.
Until the next post,