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A hadrosaurid, or duck-billed dinosaur, named Antonio lies in stone at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, and is considered to be the most complete dinosaur discovered in Europe.

A hadrosaurid, or duck-billed dinosaur, named Antonio lies in stone at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, and is considered to be the most complete dinosaur discovered in Europe. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Creatures great and small are preserved at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. All the specimens are originals, with the exception of the lion and cave bear shown here.

Creatures great and small are preserved at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. All the specimens are originals, with the exception of the lion and cave bear shown here. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

The massive skeleton of a finback whale dominates this display area in the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy.

The massive skeleton of a finback whale dominates this display area in the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

A California sea lion is among the well-preserved animals on display at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. At left is a skeleton of a sea lion. The museum is open every day except Wednesday.

A California sea lion is among the well-preserved animals on display at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. At left is a skeleton of a sea lion. The museum is open every day except Wednesday. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

The skeleton of an African elephant at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, is accompanied by a painting of the behemoth.

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)

This skeleton offers a close look at the bone structure of a hippopotamus at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy.

This skeleton offers a close look at the bone structure of a hippopotamus at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Skeletons ranging from human to tiger come together to form an eerie exhibit at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy.

Skeletons ranging from human to tiger come together to form an eerie exhibit at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Some animals typically seen on the streets of coastal towns form an exhibit at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy.

Some animals typically seen on the streets of coastal towns form an exhibit at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

One of the many displays at the Civic Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, depicts animals picking through a garbage bag for food.

One of the many displays at the Civic Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, depicts animals picking through a garbage bag for food. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

The skeleton of a narwhal, foreground, sometimes called the unicorn of the sea, is accompanied by a picture of the creature at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy.

The skeleton of a narwhal, foreground, sometimes called the unicorn of the sea, is accompanied by a picture of the creature at the City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

The City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, is open 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day except Wednesday.

The City Museum of Natural History in Trieste, Italy, is open 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every day except Wednesday. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

The city of Trieste, Italy, boasts an impressive view of the Adriatic Sea as well as an equally impressive collection of museums worth seeing.

The city of Trieste, Italy, boasts an impressive view of the Adriatic Sea as well as an equally impressive collection of museums worth seeing. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

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 DirectionsThe 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.

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

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

FoodThe 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.

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

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