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Trieste, Italy: Museum hosts creatures past and present

By JASON DUHR | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 10, 2014

Head east on the autostrade from Aviano Air Base and watch the mountains sink into the landscape as you near the Adriatic Sea to spend a day in the city of Trieste, Italy.

The city boasts more than a dozen museums and tourist attractions, ranging from the City Sea Museum, which houses an exhibition of model ships dating to medieval times and showcases ships from Christopher Columbus’ voyage in 1492, to the Trieste Botanical Gardens, which offers nearly 2½ acres that could excite any amateur botanist. 

A fascination with fossils guided me to the City Museum of Natural History.

Visitors can stand in the shadows of a towering skeleton of an African elephant, then view the remains of an equally impressive hippopotamus nearby.

The museum occupies two floors and displays part of its collection of 2 million specimens. Originally built in the center of Trieste in 1846 as a private collection, the museum held artifacts considered to be of international importance.

The museum today is a bit far from the town center. It holds numerous pieces from the original museum, including microscopes with slides and cabinets containing preserved insects, plants and animals.

Expansions are underway, and once completed, visitors will be able to enjoy more of this robust collection. The first is set to be finished in late spring, with an unveiling ceremony scheduled for June 1. The addition will hold an exhibit of more than a dozen sea creatures, including an approximately 18-foot female great white shark.  

One current attraction that shouldn’t go unmentioned is  Antonio, a 99-percent complete hadrosaurid, or duck-billed dinosaur. Still encased in stone, Antonio lived some 70 million years ago.

This visually stimulating museum offers additional perks: A library contains more than 30,000 books, some dating to the mid-1600s. The books, in English and other languages, can be viewed in the museum’s study room on the third floor.

Through the museum’s Nature Desk, visitors can email questions and pictures of plants and animals to staff for identification.

There also are interactive activities that give visitors the opportunity to feel, smell and hear different aspects of nature.

Placards next to most of the exhibits offer Italian and English descriptions.

duhr.jason@stripes.com

 

The City Museum of Natural History

Directions

The museum is located at Via Dei Tominz 4, Trieste, Italy. Visitors can park along the one-way street on either side, except where signs prohibit parking.

Times

Hours are 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with ticket sales ending at 1 p.m. Thursdays through Tuesdays; closed Wednesdays.

Costs

Admission costs 3 euros per person; free for children under 6.

Food

The museum doesn’t offer food, so drive toward the marina along Riva del Mandracchio and Riva Tommaso Gulli to discover  restaurants offering everything from pizza to Chinese food.

Information

Website: In Italian only, www.museostorianaturaletrieste.it. Email the Nature Desk at: sportellonature@comune.trieste.it.

The skeleton of an African elephant at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, is accompanied by a painting of the behemoth.
JASON DUHR/STARS AND STRIPES

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