Welcome to Cagliari
from Jesse's Journeys in Italy
Population: 165,000 in the City (approx.
300,000 in the metro area)
Cagliari, which sits at the top of the Gulf
of Cagliari, an arm of the Tyrrhenian Sea,
and at the mouth of the Mannu River, was
a German submarine base during World War II,
and was heavily bombed by the Allies.
It was not the first time that Cagliari has been
the base of, or target of, warring nations and
general history follows that of
Sardegna, but it has
its own specific history too. It was
settled by Phoenecians, who in their
struggles with the Naragi called on
Carthage for help but, in due course, Carthage
came to dominate the by then flourishing city.
But Carthage was defeated by
Rome. Rome met the fate of all
empires, at Cagliari was ruled by various
and sundry powers, including, the
Vandals, and the
Cagliari was a
city between the 11th and 14th Centuries,
when Pisa was warring against
Ultimately it fell to the
Spaniards, who already controlled
the Austrian's defeated the Spaniards, and Sardinia
was briefly under the rule of the
Holy Roman Empire.
The Empire was eventually "displaced"
(1720) by the
House of Savoy (Piemonte)
who designated the island the Kingdom of Sardinia
which they ruled from
The House of Savoy later roused the ire of Cagliarians, who expelled their Savoian rulers and most of the Piemontese who
settled there. The rebellion was
ultimately put down but every year the feisty, and long-memoried
Cagliarians, still celebrate their
rebellion during a festival called Sardegna Day ("Die de sa
Sardigna") which is held during the last week of April. Sardegna
was united with Italy in 1870.
Today, Cagliari is a modern, industrialized port
city, with layers of history that date back to
at least 1500 BC. Sitting on the effluvial plain
of the Mannu River, surrounded by hills
and swamps, there are four
districts, Marina (the port area),
Castello (where the Pisans erected various
fortifications, Stampace and Villanova.
will find numerous ancient buildings including
the Roman Amphitheater, the Basilica
of San Saturnino (5th century),
the Tower of St. Pancras, a Pisan
construction built in 1304 as part of the
fortifications of the Castello, and the Duomo,
built in the 13th century in the
Castello, one should pay a visit to the
Archaeological Museum of Sardegna, which has
an impressive collection from all periods of the
Island's history. Close by the Duomo is
the Governor's Palace, which is now the
seat of the Provincial Government of Cagliari.
of the noteworthy buildings in Cagliari,
however, are not ancient, just old. They
were built during the 18th Century, including
the City Hall in the port area, done in white
marble and influenced by the
Art Nouveau style. In the
districts largely built in the 1930s, there are
a number of buildings done in the
Art Deco style, and others, like the
Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice) in
an almost brutally Fascist neo-classical style.
of the buildings reveal the inexplicable Sardengese taste for
flower decoration, and white marble and white
limestone are used in much of the construction,
and absorb and reflect the Mediterranean light
in a way that gives Cagliari its own distinct
look and feel.
streets and piazzas in the old town are narrow
and windy, as usual with medieval cities.
There are many good shops, selling traditional
crafts, and modern fashion. The
restaurants are numerous, and some very very
good. Among the multitude of cafes, a
traveler will find one that suits him or her to
Alas, the visitor who searches out Cagliari in
any depth is also going to find large area of
poorly designed, poorly constructed apartment
buildings, which were built to house a growing
population of workers, and the dismal looking
factories and shops they worked in. And
the modern port, of course, is ugly in a
beautiful sort of way.
But, if you
visit Cagliari, don't stay in the city the whole time.
Head for the 13 kilometer Poetto beach with its fine
white sand. Or go hiking or bike riding along the coast or
just outside the city. Sailing, windsurfing, diving and
other recreational activities can be organized through one of
the local operators.
Another popular place in Cagliari is the immense
park of Monte Urpinu,
close by the Castello.
The Castello itself has great views of the
City and environs, but if you have a car, you can drive to the top
of the hill inside the park where there is an
even wider view, including the Castello district,
the seaside beaches,
the swamps on the city's outskirts and the Gulf of Cagliari.
day exploring Cagliari will give you a
well-deserved appetite, and in this as with all
else, the local chefs do not disappoint.
Many dishes, of course, are based on seafood,
but the chicken and meat dishes are
satisfying. Italian and Spanish
gastronomic traditions mix with the peculiarly
Sardegnese...and the result is...perfetto!
So, now that you know more about Cagliari, you
will probably want to visit - soon. Be
forewarned, Summer is hot (very) so if you can,
make the City a spring or fall destination.
You can fly to the International airport near
the city, or take a ferry from Tunis,
Livorno, Civitivecchia, or
by Vian Andrews
13 September 2005
Region of Sardegna
Livorno, Civitivecchia, or
In the Sardinian language Cagliari is
"Casteddu", or "castle".
Duomo door, Cagliari
Torre dell'Elephante, Cagliari
The Church of Bonaria (Fair Winds) in
Cagliari, dedicated to Mary of Bonaria.
Spanish sailors who established Buenos
Aires, the Capital of Argentina, named
the city for the church and its patron