Vienna by the sea: the Adriatic port of Trieste (pictured here) has a dash of Habsburg style (photo © hidden europe).
Italian private operator Italo has a reputation for teasing Trieste. In late 2019, NTV Italo announced the extension of its network to Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) region. It’s an area in the far north-east corner of the country which, despite the name, does not include Venice.
Trieste, as the FVG capital, naturally assumed that new high-speed Italo trains would be serving Trieste. So there was some disappointment in the city as it became clear that Italo didn’t have Trieste in its sights at all, and that it would be the Friulian cities of Udine and Pordenone which would benefit from being integrated into the Italo network.
Last year, Italo taunted Trieste again, running test trains to Trieste on two occasions, but again emphasizing that there were no immediate plans to serve the city at the head of the Adriatic.
Now Italo has made good, for it has this month started a new direct train service between Trieste and Naples. The new route was launched on Thursday 27 May. Departure from Trieste is at 08.10, with the train arriving in Rome at 14.05 and Naples at 15.28.
The northbound service leaves Naples at 13.35 and Rome’s Termini station at 14.55 to reach Trieste Centrale at 20.53.
Italo evidently judges that the FVG market is sufficient to warrant two daily trains from the region, as the new Trieste train is not at the expense of the existing train from Udine and Pordenone to Rome and Naples. That still runs at its existing timings.
Trieste gets another completely new train service in June, with the launch of a new direct service to Vienna via Ljubljana. From Sunday 12 June, a new Eurocity train will leave Trieste Centrale daily at 13.03 for the nine-hour journey to Vienna. We really rate this new route as potentially one of the most engaging daytime services in Europe. The route is via Sežana, Ljubljana and Graz, so taking in some fine karst landscapes in the early part of the journey and culminating in a run over the celebrated Semmering railway to reach the Austrian capital.
The southbound service leaves Vienna at 07.58 each morning and reaches Trieste at 16.52. The new link is in effect an extension to Trieste of the long-standing Eurocity Emona train which has for many years run between Vienna and Ljubljana, The new Eurocity from Vienna to Trieste will be formed of a combination of Slovenian and Austrian carriages – including a Slovenian restaurant car, which will be detached at Ljubljana. Only the Austrian carriages, probably three of them, will continue beyond Ljubljana to Trieste. First and second-class seating will be available for the whole journey, and the train will also convey a limited number of bicycles.
The new route is laced with history. Trieste was of course once a great port of the Habsburg world, so there were strong commercial and political links between Trieste and the Austrian capital. But it’s been many years since a direct train linked the two cities.
Fifty years ago, there were twice-daily services connecting Vienna with Trieste, taking about 11 hours for the journey. But these services of yesteryear ran from Vienna to Trieste via Klagenfurt, Villach and Udine, so avoiding crossing what was then Yugoslav territory. We suspect you would have to go back to before the Second World War to find a direct train from Vienna to Trieste via Ljubljana.
Trieste is on Route 27 in the current 16th edition of our book Europe by Rail:The Definitive Guide. That route runs from Venice via Trieste to Ljubljana and Zagreb. Look out for changes in the 17th edition. We are minded to rejig the routes so as to include a new route from Vienna to Trieste following the itinerary used by the newly introduced Eurocity train.