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
People do insist that Lillicu is Cagliari’s must-visit trattoria. You can feel the soul and history here, from the family, who are proud to show you their historic photos, to the noisy main room, with its laid-back refectory-style atmosphere, busy open kitchen and fresh seafood. This is a place that’s appreciated by the locals as much as by newcomers. Expect friendly waiters juggling plates of spaghetti con arselle (tiny sweet clams) and fritto misto di mare (fried seafood dish), and a group of holidaying Alghero fishermen on the next marble table happy to pour you another glass of red, so you can join them for some Lillicu banter!
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.
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.