i went to Trieste specifically for its cafes: not only is Trieste a famous coffee importer (Illy coffee, anyone?) but the pastries are superb...anywhere that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has an enduring legacy of whipped cream, and i say that's a good thing.
Trieste is also famous because of James Joyce. there are carefully-numbered plaques anywhere he ever paused for a drink, and at the very windy but gorgeous Grand Canal, there's a statue of him (not life-sized, somewhat shorter, i don't understand why). appropriate that he's near the sea... "Moving through the air high spars of a threemaster, her sails brailed up on the crosstrees, homing, upstream, silently moving, a silent ship."
first, i hit the Caffe Pasticceria Pirona (12 Largo Barriera Vecchia), where Joyce reputedly began outlining Ulysses. i was amazed to discover that the Pirona is tiny--there are no chairs, just a counter where you stand. i tried to picture Joyce at the counter; i had a marzipan pastry but wimp that i am, i couldn't face a glass of white wine for breakfast.
by noon, i was better prepared: i nabbed a table at the magnificent, immense Caffe San Marco (18 Via Battisti) which still holds literary and musical events and is generally the place to go if you want to talk with friends, read newspapers, and feel literary. there are carved oak leaves around the ceiling, there is an immense black bar, and there is excellent beer. i could have spent all day...