If you need something, anything in Trieste then you must go to Toso in Piazza San Giovanni.
This drugstore has literally everything. You walk in and find yourself in a place where time has stood still.
On the ancient unstained shelves, glass jars from another era are proudly displayed. They are filled with every kind of flavored candy imaginable: rhubarb, balsamic honey, mint as well as gum and nonpareils and spices too; white tea, curry, turmeric, cloves, black pepper, pink peppercorns …. The tidal wave of scents that greet you when you walk in will inebriate you.
Towards the back of the store you will find glues, paints, bath salts, essential oils, floor wax, shoe polish and sorghum brooms.
There is also a collection of large wooden drawers that hold dyes for decorators, green and red clays and talc. Hanging on the walls are many tools, among them wooden back scratchers.
I usually go to Toso to buy English silver polish, as they are the only ones in Trieste who carry it.
The other day, however, I went there to buy those terribly sadistic moth traps, which lure moths with pheromones and trap them in the glue on the inside of the box. A horrible way to die! While I was waiting I remembered that I also needed something to clean some old pewter jugs.
When it was my turn I asked (without much conviction) what product they would recommend for this task. Immediately one of the owners explained to me how to make a paste that was perfect for cleaning pewter, “A bit of pumice powder, a tablespoon of oil and a lot of elbow grease!” Then he disappeared into the back of the store, jam-packed with all good things, and reappeared with a manual that explains how to clean any type of metal.
Scrolling his finger back and forth over the paragraph dedicated to antique pewter, he looked up at me and said: “The pumice powder is perfect!”
Meanwhile, admiring the colorful vases on the shelf, I couldn’t resist the urge to buy turmeric powder, a fundamental ingredient of a delicious soup made by my friend Daniela who brought it to last week’s to the Lunch Bunch IWC. “How much do you want? A pound, two? ” I answered “half a bag …? ” without having the faintest idea of the weight. “They tell me” , I continued inquisitively, “ that turmeric has anti oxidants” , thinking of my skin… “Of course!” Nadia responded immediately, “…anti oxidants, anti-aging, anti-cholesterol …” “Well then,” I said, “ give me a whole bag! ” Nadia continued, ” You can put some in the risotto, which turns it to a beautiful deep yellow. And it’s ideal with vegetables, especially delicious with zucchini, but you can also simply melt some in a little warm water and drink it at night before going to bed, as an herbal tea … ” Wow! I’ve learned so much in this short trip — starting tomorrow I’m putting Tumeric in everything!
As I approached the cash register ready to pay a lady entered and asked for “ manna” . Curious as always, I asked “ what is this manna?” . “Mannite” replied the lady, “ don’t you know it? It’s a natural laxative.” She pulled out a small cardboard box. “ A few bits have a mild laxative effect. It is good also for children, even my grandmother used it. ”
Whenever I leave Toso, I always go out with something more as suggested to me by Mrs. Nadia or one of the many loyal customers who’ve been coming here for decades.
Piazza S. Giovanni, 6, Trieste
Open 08–13, 16:30–19
Telefono: 040 636288