Our exploration of Italy's Karst area (Carso in Italian) begins in Piazza Oberdan, in Trieste. From here we take the funicular railway in the direction of Sistiana. After half an hour travelling across a breathtaking landscape, we arrive at Villa Opicina from where to enjoy the 5 km walk along the panoramic pathway known as the Napoleonica. Returning to Villa Opicina, we take another road, that of the Vino Terrano, towards the Rocca di Monrupino where the Sanctuary of the Beata Vergine Assunta is located. Here, every two years, the Karst Wedding is celebrated, with the colourful re-enactment of a traditional Slovenian marriage.

Just 3 kms away lies Rupingrande, a Slovenian enclave known for its Casa Carsica: an ethnographic museum in which a typical rural habitation of the 19th century has been reconstructed. Travelling onwards for a further 5 kms, we come to the Grotta del Gigante, an immense underground cavern, featuring a great number of impressive stalactites and stalagmites, believed to be thousands of years old. Our next stop is at Sgonico, where to see the Carisana Botanical Gardens: a property comprised of some 60 hectares of land on which eight different geoclimatic environments typical of the Karst have been recreated.

Via a road bordered by vineyards, we reach the seaside town of Sistiana. From here we walk along the Sentiero Rilke, a pathway which takes its name from Rainer Maria Rilke; the Prague-born poet, author of the Duino Elegies, who resided in Duino Castle between 1911 and 1912. Duino Castle can be reached following the pathways through the Regional Nature Reserve of the Falesie of Duino. The Falesie are rocky limestone cliffs which tower directly above the sea. Built between the 15th and 16th century, Duino Castle is the private residence of the Princes della Torre e Tasso. Inside, in the wing of the fortress now open to the public, visitors can admire the stairway designed by Palladio, the family chapel, and the library. Next to the Castle, there are the remains of the ancient Roman military outpost in which Pagano, patriarch of Aquilea, offered hospitality to Dante Alighieri. Struck by its immense beauty, the great poet mentioned the site in his Divine Comedy.

Returning to the main carriageway, we soon arrive in Borgo di San Giovanni, where we are greeted by a fabulous bronze statue of a wolf. This is where the Timavo river flows, the shortest of Italy's waterways. From its source in Slovenia's Nevoso Mountains, the river travels some 47 kms underground before surfacing right next to the Church of San Giovanni in Tuba from where its continues its passage for a mere 2 kms.

From the center of the bustling harbour town of Monfalcone, a road leads directly to the town's medieval fortress, where to visit the Palaeontology Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art. Via the SS305 highway we come to the Memorial Chapel of Redipuglia, built to honour those who fell in the battles of Karst during the First World War and inaugurated by Mussolini in 1938.

Nature lovers should not miss the opportunity to visit the Regional Nature Reserve of Doberdò and Pietrarossa; a great place for bird-watching which occupies the land between the Karst lakes of Doberdò and Pietrarossa. Following the SP 92 road, we come to Gradisca d'Isonzo, ancient settlement founded by the Venetians, who built both the town's 15th century fortress and the impressive Piazza Unità d'Italia complete with column bearing the lion of San Marco. Among the other sites of interest in Gradisca d'Isonzo, there is the Church of the Addolorata and Palazzo Torrioni, this latter now home to the Civic Museum and the "Luigi Spazzapan" Gallery of Contemporary Art. The Cathedral of Gradisca boasts a splendid baroque façade by Paolo Zuliani.