Cagliari, from 12th century Spanish callaris meaning a rocky place, is the splendid capital of Sardinia – full of fabulous historic sights, culture and beach atmosphere. But what strikes you about this friendly city is the down-to-earth island charm of the place and its people. In the warmest months, escape the heat that reflects off the limestone hills and battlements by dipping into the Cittadella museums and churches, or of course the sea at one of its nearby beaches. Il Poetto is long, sandy and vibrant, but just around the corner in rocky cove Cala Fighera you can go snorkelling in sparkling water and come back to relax at his beach-bar hangout.
Main City Rome
Surface 85.45 km²
Density 300 hab / km²
A visit to iconic retro-futurist tower T Hotel will introduce you to a new and artsy side of Cagliari. After you’ve checked out the cavernous lobby and the quirky gallery, head up to look back down on the enormous public space that emerges below you. Parco della Musica opened in 2011 as the centrepiece of a cultural hub. A series of art exhibitions, concerts at Teatro Lirico, and a place to relax amid the fountains (erupting to the chimes of Händel’s Water Music) make it all very refreshing.
Not many cities in the world have a beach as beautiful as the hidden Cala Fighera, and the extra effort to get there is worth it. East of Cagliari’s city centre, along the Traversa Calamosca road and around the headland from Il Poetto crowds, is the intimate Cala Fighera bay and La Paillotte beach bar. Overlooking a pool and beach it’s easy to see why it’s a popular sunset hangout for Cagliaritani, as you follow a rough track from the bar to a pebbly beach with crystal-clear waters. But be prepared for a variety of natural sights, as among the macchia scrub you might surprise the occasional nudist bather.
You’ll enjoy browsing the kitsch tourist souvenir shops under Cagliari’s Via Roma arcades, it’s all part of the holiday laugh. But for a more serious shopping experience go to I.S.O.L.A. It’s gift shopping with Sardinian soul, a house of talent that supports over fifty local designers. I.S.O.L.A is all about promoting the immense wealth of Sardinian traditions and craft. But don’t be fooled by its worthiness – the shop is full of modern and beautiful things. Pop in and see their fascinating ceramics, ironwork, wood objects and fabrics.