Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, is nestled on the island’s South coast, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and Tunisia. The city was founded in the 8th century BC and Phoenicians, Romans and Carthaginians all took turns governing the trading port; History is palpable everywhere, despite it having been bombed heavily during WWII.
I had a day to explore Cagliari, and after having ventured off to Poetto beach to get a taste of the famous Sardinian beaches, was free to wander the narrow alleyways of the old town, Il Castello. From the bus station on Via Roma, right near the Mediterranean, we climbed Largo Carlo Felice all the way up to Torre dell’Elefante, built in 1307. Once on the hilltop, the view was a nice reward, especially when I found a wonderful terrace, empty in the blazing afternoon sun. Having stopped for a
bite gelato, I then headed back into the narrow lanes to find my way to Cattedrale di SantaMaria
The old city is so dense and narrow that the sun rays do not shine on the tiny streets, and most of them forever stay in the darkness. I don’t know if it was the echoes reverberating on the tall walls, the graffiti of political slogans or the looks on the faces of a few passersby that make Il Castello such an eerie place…
Cagliari can be a frustrating city but it is also quite fascinating. D.H. Lawrence described it as “strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy”, and I couldn’t agree more; there were times when I wasn’t quite sure where I was, engulfed by the unfamiliar surroundings. I can’t help but wonder if the rest of Sardinia resembles its capital, which in the end I didn’t particularly like but found truly fascinating.
Have you traveled to Sardinia and Cagliari? What were your impressions of the city?