Travelers often visit Italy because it is a land of romance and great beauty, but perhaps one of the most gorgeous cities of Italy, Cagliari, is not attached to the mainland at all. The city is located on the southernmost part of a large island called Sardinia that is just west of the mainland. Cagliari is the largest city in Sardinia, one of the most important ports of the Mediterranean, and a divine spot for an Italian vacation.
The ancient roots of this island can be traced all the way back to the Neolithic era. Archaeologists have recovered a number of relics from these prehistoric inhabitants, primarily in the areas of the Monte Claro Hill and Cape Sant’Elia. Cagliari transformed into a Phoenician settlement, then fell under Roman rule, and even became the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia for several centuries before becoming part of Italy.
Cagliari’s name in Sardinian translates to castle. The name is particularly fitting as during the thirteenth century, the city’s inhabitants built up a medieval section of town that most refer to as the castle district. Still today, the district sits majestically atop a large hill, making a strong and intimidating presence to visitors approaching by boat, which is probably the exact effect its founders hoped to evoke.
Over the years, Cagliari continued to flourish and word of the area’s natural beauty spread far and wide, making the city a peaceful respite for those seeking gorgeous beaches, crystal clear water, and the serene atmosphere of the port. Further inland, the city piazze are known for their social gatherings which include fun activities such as moonlight dancing.
For all these reasons, it is no surprise that tourism is one of the biggest industries of Cagliari, second only to seafood. Mediterranean cruises often make stops in Cagliari for guests to take advantage of the pristine beaches and delightful marinas that dot the coastline. They play in the sun and water by day and check out the clubs and pubs after night falls on the shore.
When traveling to Cagliari from the mainland or elsewhere in the world, the primary methods of transportation are generally airplanes or boats. For those choosing to fly into the local airport, the best option to get around on the island after landing is to rent a car. Those traveling by boat are practically already in Cagliari when they dock at the city’s port.
A favorite way to take in the island of Sardinia and the city of Cagliari in all its seaside glory is a guided boat tour. The city is breathtaking from the waters of the Mediterranean, particularly the views of the castle district which seems to rise up from the center of the city. Further inland is where the castles, churches, museums, shops and arcades can be explored. Traveling by foot or bicycle is a fantastic way to take in the local culture. However, if visiting opposing ends of the city, traveling by car is the most efficient option.
The cuisine of Cagliari is perhaps one of the most unique things about the city in comparison to many of its other Italian counterparts. The cuisine here is largely based upon seafood with some Sicilian influence. The port, miles of beach, and surrounding waters fittingly earn Cagliari the title of one of the largest fish markets in all of Italy. Whether you are dining on the fresh seafood, flatbread, a pasta dish, or a traditional Sardinian cake, the cuisine here is a delicious treat.
When it comes to the day-to-day interactions here, both Italian and Sardinian are spoken in Cagliari. Although both of these romance languages were once commonly practiced by much of the population, today much of the younger generation speaks primarily Italian, along with a special type of slang that is a combination of both languages.
The city of Cagliari sits at the southern tip of the island and region of Sardinia. This prime location also looks out to the Golfo degli Angeli which translates to Bay of Angels. The area goes from the shorelines of the bay to the soft rolling hills of the impressive Castle District.
The city is filled with beautiful public gardens and parks, all of which make Cagliari one of the country’s greenest cities. These natural areas are often home to unusual subtropical or exotic plants that grow quite well in the city’s Mediterranean climate. In addition to local parks and gardens, the Molentargius – Saline Regional Park is located nearby.
Cagliari is a densely populated area that is largely divided into historic neighborhoods and modern districts. The four historic neighborhoods are Marina, Castello, Villanova, and Stampace. The 27 modern districts include areas such as San Benedetto, Genneruxi, and Sant’Avendrace.
In general, Cagliari experiences a mainly Mediterranean climate that yields hot summers and mild winters. The summer months have little rainfall and high temperatures average in the eighties (Fahrenheit). The rainiest season typically occurs during the fall. The winters are relatively mild with highs around the fifties and lows in the forties, and heavy snowfall is considered highly unusual.
One unique weather feature of Cagliari is the wind. It is somewhat normal to experience windy conditions here from the Sirocco breeze. This breeze comes off the Mediterranean Sea most often during the summer months and generally is strong enough to help cool things down a bit.
ONLY IN CAGLIARI
This city is set apart from many Italian vacation destinations because of its immense natural beauty. With some of the most gorgeous stretches of beach along the Mediterranean, it is not hard to understand why Cagliari is often referred to as the City of Sun. People thoroughly enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and even water sports in this part of the sea. One of the most popular stretches of beach reaches from Devil’s Saddle to Margine Rosso or Red Bluff. Whether travelers choose to dive right in to the water or simply sit seaside to take in the sunsets, Cagliari’s stunning scenery has something for everyone.
In addition to being a hot spot for beach goers, who flock to many nearby areas, particularly the Poetto Beach, Cagliari is also home to a relatively wild and natural environment that features lagoons and wildlife reserves as well as bird sanctuaries. Some of the birds and animals you can see here are considered to be unique to Europe. One of the most popularly visited areas for bird watching is the salt water Stagno di Molentargius, where flamingos live and flourish.
Cagliari is also home to a number of green areas and parks. Some of these must-see areas include Monte Urpinu Park which is on a hill and overlooks the city, San Michele Park, which features a castle, Monte Claro Provincial Park, which showcases a historical mansion, and Terramaini Park, which is known for its flamingo and bird population. Not to be missed are the public gardens of the city that are thought to have been established in the nineteenth century. On a much larger scale than a city park, the Molentargius – Saline Regional Park is located nearby and features heavily wooded forests that come alive with different kinds of wildlife, such as wild boars and Sardinian deer. Another natural area favored among the locals is Santa Gilla Lagoon, a wetland area that covers more than 37,000 acres and is home to approximately 70 species of birds including flamingos and cormorants.
Cagliari is one of the best destinations in Italy to truly immerse in the country’s natural beauty. As the capital of the Sardinia region, Cagliari is home to historic monuments, beaches, wetlands, and natural parks all just waiting to be explored.