“Lost between Europe and Africa, it belongs to nowhere. It belongs to nowhere, never having belonged to nowhere. To Spain and the Arabs and the Phoenicians more than anything. But as if he had never really had a destiny. No fate. Left out of time and history”
David Herbert Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, 1921
I wanted to start with this quote because it is not easy to describe Cagliari, the capital city of an amazing jam in the Mediterranean Sea, the island of Sardinia. It is the result of many influences by different populations who ruled the island: Phoenician, Arabs, Romans, Pisans, Spanish and of course Savoy are just examples. Cagliari is one of the most important harbours in the Mediterranean Sea and situated in South Sardinia, pretty close to Africa, especially to Tunisia. The weather in there is incredible. In fact, it is so sunny that locals call it CA(g)LI(ari)FORNIA. Here are ten things to do, eat and visit in this city.
1) Poetto – You cannot say that you visited Cagliari properly if you did not go to the beautiful beach of Poetto. Poetto is so close to the city that you can actually reach it by a bus from one of the main squares of Cagliari, Matteotti’s Square. It stretches for about eight kilometres and it is said that it is the longest beach in a city after the one in Rio de Janeiro. You can enjoy your time there looking at the beautiful blue sea and eating a sandwich with horse meat bought in one of the “paninari” or “caddozzoni” [that can be translated with very dirty people, ed.], as people from Cagliari call them, and of course drinking an Ichnusa, the traditional beer of Sardinia.
2) Sella del Diavolo – There is a small story hidden behind this beautiful hill near at Poetto’s beach, that is also one of the symbols of our city. The legend tells that Lucifer and his demons wanted to rule Cagliari’s Gulf, but in a battle Lucifer fell off his horse, lost his saddle that turned into stone and became the Sella del Diavolo, Devil’s Saddle in English. You should climb it because the view from there will be one of the greatest experiences of your life, plus you will see Poetto with its all beauties.
3) Viale Europa – It is a really long street and it is close to Monteurpinu Park (one of the biggest parks in the city). There you can enjoy the beautiful skyline of the city and if you turn around you can also see Poetto. It will take your breath away.
4) Fenicotteri – How not to mention flamingos? People from Cagliari are very proud of them. To find them, you have to move just a little bit from the city and go to Molentargius Park, which is really close to Poetto’s beach. Rent a bike and enjoy your time there. I suggest you bring your camera so that you can keep memories of this beautiful experience forever.
5) Pizzetta Sfoglia – Finally, I introduce you just one of the many tasty dishes from the island. Pizzetta sfoglia is basically a small pizza made with puff pastry and filled with tomato sauce and sometimes capers. We usually eat it in the breakfast or as a snack in the evening. Like Ichnusa and flamingos, people from Cagliari are very proud and jealous of Pizzetta Sfoglia. Try it, it is delicious!
6) Piazza Yenne – Piazza Yenne is the centre of Cagliari’s movida. Especially on Friday and Saturday, you will find lots and lots of inhabitants having their happy hours or just talking and sitting in a bar. I suggest you take an appetiser there, you will enjoy the view of Castello (one of the historic neighbourhoods of Cagliari), the harbour and, of course, our beloved Carlo Felice’s statue. Carlo Felice is the symbol of the city and when Cagliari FC was promoted to Serie A [the major football league in Italy, ed.], last year he was dressed in red and blue, the colours of our team.
7) Marina – Moving a little bit forward from Piazza Yenne, you will find the neighbourhood of Marina. Marina is really beautiful, there you can find amazing restaurants with typical Sardinian cuisine and small shops that sell souvenirs. They might not be cheap, but eating traditional food is an experience you cannot miss when you are in Sardinia, it will be totally worth it.
8) Castello – Castello (or Castle in English) is the neighbourhood of Cagliari. In fact, in Sardinian language, Cagliari is called Casteddu which means Castle. In Castello, you will find the most important monuments of Cagliari: the cathedral, the Vice Regio Palace, museums, etc. I suggest you lose yourself in small and beautiful streets with full of the magic of this neighbourhood and of course, go to Bastione Santa Croce to enjoy the beautiful view on Cagliari.
9) Bastione St. Remy – It is one of the meeting points of young people in Cagliari. The view from there is totally worth it and breathtaking. You can go up by foot or with the elevator. You will see its main entrance from the shopping streets via Garibaldi and via Manno, it is situated at the exact crossroads between these two streets.
10) Lose yourself – Just like I have read in other articles of the Travel Guide series, I suggest you lose yourself in this beautiful city to see and taste everything it offers. Cagliari might not be a big city or famous like other beautiful cities in Italy, but it is unique.
Written by Paola Letizia Murru, AEGEE-Cagliari
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