James Joyce arrives in Pula (then Pola) in October 1904, in what it used to be the main naval port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to teach English to the officers at the Berlitz School. His girlfriend Nora Barnacle accompanies him and in her effort to bypass bureaucracy and scandals, she introduces herself as „Mrs Joyce“. They spend their half year in Pula drinking hot chocolate, dining at the local inn, rejoicing the beverages at the local Caffè Miramar, as well as their passionate public quarrels. However, Joyce's reaction to Pula has been infamously recorded to the later generations, as he characterizes the town as a „naval Siberia“ in the midst of that harsh winter, which suggests his aversions toward it. It stems from the dissatisfaction with the scantily furnished, damp apartment which could not be warmed up by the small stove they had rented with it from Amalia Globočnik, a teacher of Croatian. Equipped with the knowledge of the archaic Italian, Joyce struggles in Pula with the local Istro-Venetian dialect of Italian which he perceives as babble, only to use it later on as one of his inspirations in writing Finnegans Wake.
Inclined to the life of leisure, Joyce follows fashion trends buying new suits, growing moustache, and having his hair curled by Nora. On his 23rd birthday in February 1905, he sets off to the Brijuni archipelago where, apart from the luxurious nature, he enjoys the local cheese. This will remain the only recorded impression from the outing, while the natural and historical splendours of Brijuni are just neglected. The reason behind it might be the nostalgia he had been feeling for his native Dublin and his Irish language, but grew apart from. Therefore, they are to become his obsession manifested in writing Stephen Hero and Dubliners.
Just before Christmas, the couple leaves the apartment to move in with his colleague Alessandro Francini Bruni into his warmer and better furnished one. The positive change reflected both on Joyce's private life when he learns he is expecting his first child with Nora, as well as his professional life at the school which praises his work.
According to Francini Bruni, the Austrian authorities expel all the foreigners from Pula, having discovered a spy-network. Joyce, however, has no connection with it. Yet James Joyce and Nora Barnacle leave Pula behind to live in Trieste and never to return again. They will stay in Trieste for the next ten years where the writer will relentlessly work on Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and his epochal Ulysses.
To honour Joyce's person and his literary legacy, since 2012 Pula has celebrated Bloomsday every 16th of June – the day in which his seminal work Ulysses takes place.