“And suddenly there is Cagliari: a naked town rising steep, steep, golden looking, piled naked to the sky from the plain at the head of a formless hollow bay. It is strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy. The city piles up lofty and almost miniature. It makes me think of Jerusalem: without trees, without cover, rising rather bare and proud, remote as if back in history, like a town in a monkish, illuminated missal. One wonders how it ever got there. And it seems like Spain or Malta: not Italy.”
These are the words of David H. Lawrence in ‘Sea and Sardinia’ used to describe the Sardinian capital and his journey in discovering the island in 1921. It is a vertical city with rugged climbs and postcard views coloured by the blue of the sea and the fiery orange of the sunsets over the Golfo degli Angeli surrounding it.
An ancient city, inhabited since the Neolithic period, it has always been a port and the scene of commercial exchanges in a dense network that has allowed it, over the centuries, to dialogue with the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians.
A city developed around its four historic quarters:
Villanova, streets of shops and old houses, carefully placed into an intricate network up to the gates of the historic Giardini Pubblici.
La Marina, the melting pot of souls and cultures, ancient home of sailors, scents of spices, and steep alleyways that roll towards Via Roma and the city port.
Stampace, a 13th-century Pisan stronghold, rich in art and tradition, guardian of the church of Sant’Efisio where the simulacrum of the saint rests in anticipation of the annual procession in May.
Finally, Castello, the high city walls guarding the historic buildings, the wide panoramic squares and the monumental staircase of the Saint Remy Bastion, mute guardian of the city, panoramic lounge from the top of the hill on which it stands.
Cagliari is a city that welcomes visitors, opens up to the world with the great Poetto beach, the Cagliari people’s lido, its crystal-clear sea, and the silhouette of the Sella del Diavolo (the Devil’s Saddle), where history and myth come together like sky and sea. Among the stalls of the Mercato di San Benedetto, the largest covered food market in Italy, are typical restaurants scattered among the alleys of the historic centre that define the city’s flavours of tradition.
Cagliari is a lively and dynamic city to be experienced in around the year, warmed by the summer sun, mild in the winter that seems never to arrive, only to disappear instantly. Cagliari holds the culture of its theatres, the spirituality of basilicas, the folklore of myths. It is the bridge between two continents, the gateway to the Mediterranean.