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
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.
Up on the Bastione San Remy the views over Cagliari can make you mighty thirsty; but luckily Caffè Librarium has its pedestrian area and just the right measure of night-time bar chic. Get here early though to grab yourself a place on one of the white seats or chaises lounges under palms and parasols, where you can watch owner Danilo and his skilful barmen as they shake and stir the fruity cocktails for all walks of Cagliari’s crowd. Inside there’s a room from the 1300s, where you might bump into writer Massimo Carlotto sipping his Calvados-spiked Alligator.
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.