Southern Europe Traveller's Guide - Science's Towns - Trieste

Trieste is the seat of a University which is in the vanguard, as far as co-operation relations and exchanges within and without Europe are concerned, especially in the technical and scientific sector. It has many research and investigation centres.

The most important one at an international level is the Centre of Theoretical Physics of Miramare, run by Mr. Abdus Salam, who was awarded the Noble Prize. It is a meeting point for thousands of physicists and mathematicians who come from all over the world, and in particular from developing countries. The United World College of the Adriatic is equally renouned.

Over two hundred young people of all races and religions complete their high school there. It is located in Duino, occupying part of the ancient castle of the Torre e Tasso family.

The facilities of the Research Area, an institution meant for the development of scientific and technological research, have been erected at Padriciano, on the karst plateau. Among other things, the European seat of the International Centre of Genetics and Biotechnological Engineering, working under the auspices of UNIDO, can be found in this area. Among other structures for scientific research, there are the Astronomical Observatory and the Experimental Geophysical Observatory, both dating back to 1753.

The former has been sited in the Castello and Castelletto Basevi since 1890, the latter in Borgo Grotta Gigante.














Not many people know, even in Trieste, about an extraordinary new line of work that has developed in the city over the last few decades - scientific and technological research. I am therefore delighted to present this Trieste - City of Science, whose photographs provide unimpeachable proof of the wealth and variety of this new development.


The number and prestige of the research facilities that have been set up in and around Trieste is nothing short of staggering. Here is a list of only the biggest of them (for reasons of space I am forced to make exclusions, for which I apologise here and now): the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), established in 1964, whose success has not only given Trieste a valuable cultural dimension but also acted as a catalyst for many of the subsequent scientific developments; the Trieste Astronomic Observatory, working in the city since 1898 and now part of the National Institute of Astrophysics; the AREA Science Park, with campuses at Padriciano and Basovizza where about 1,600 people work in over 70 research laboratories and high-tech companies; the International School for Advanced Studies (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati - SISSA); the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics; the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB); the ELETTRA Synchrotron Light Laboratory; the Trieste centres of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and the National Institute for the Physics of Matter; the National Research Council Institute of Crystallography and the Structure of Matter and the Experimental Thalassographic Institute; the Marine Biology Laboratory at Aurisina; the International Institute for Human Rights Studies; the International Centre for Science and High Technology (ICS); the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS). A central role in this prestigious context is obviously played by the city’s main institution of research - the University of Trieste, with its 12 faculties (including Medicine and Surgery, Engineering and Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences), its lecturers and researchers, post-graduate students and 27,000 undergraduate students. 

As a result of this proliferation of scientific establishments, Trieste and its province can now boast a total of 4,700 people working in R&D, of whom 3,400 are researchers and technology experts - a huge proportion of the overall population. The ratio of researchers to working people is the highest in Italy: over 35 to 1,000, compared to a European average of 5.3 . 

The scientific disciplines studied in Trieste cover the leading edge of research: the physics of sub-nuclear particles and astronomy, the sciences of the atmosphere and the seas, biotechnology and biomedical technology, new materials, chemistry, environmental sciences, electronics, industrial automation, informatics and telecommunications. The laboratories and research centres produce new fundamental and basic knowledge, develop and perfect technological innovations and nurture new high-tech companies able not only to survive but to prosper in international markets. 

Special mention should be made of the high-level training for scientists from developing countries carried out by a number of research bodies, particularly those in the orbit of the United Nations, such as the ICTP, the ICGEB and the ICS. This is an innovative formula which has proved to be highly successful. The Centres give scholars from developing countries the chance to work on leading-edge subjects with top-level European and American scientists, leading to a direct personal transfer of knowledge and culture which benefits all concerned and is invaluable to the scholars who return to their countries to manage their own research institutions. 

The creation in a few decades of this new dimension and the enthusiasm of the participation in its development bear witness to a genuine vocation whose roots are to be found in the local character, the city’s cultural humus. Trieste has a remarkable history and a remarkable location. It entertains  relations with the adjacent Italian, Slav and Germanic cultures. Of all mediterranean cities it is the closest to Mitteleuropa. So close to the centre of Europe, it is also linked by the sea to all the Mediterranean countries to the south and east. It is a crossroads of trade and culture, a city with an incomparable spirit, free and brave, at once popular and aristocratic, casting its spell on every visitor. 

We hope and expect that Trieste will develop further as a city of science, achieving still greater integration with its surrounding territory and finding more points of synergy with it, in line with the European Union’s aim of becoming the world’s first knowledge-based society.

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