Italian culture and history: Cagliari
- WTI Magazine #111 Jan 19, 2019
Cagliari, the “happiest city in Italy,” is the Capital of the impossibly beautiful Island of Sardinia, and is rich in history. Similar to Rome in that it is spread out over seven hills, bears the traces of the Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman dominations, and jealously preserves the vestiges of 13th- and 14th-Century Pisan fortresses (the Torre dell'Elefante and Torre dell'Aquila).
Cagliari's architecture lies before us like an open book, ready to recount of important events in history, beginning with the Castello Quarter, with its Bastion of Saint Remy, the Cathedral of Santa Maria and Palazzo Regio.
The most common touristic departure points are the nearby coastal resorts, like Villasimius. Cagliari is a youthful city, yet wealthy with tradition. It also boasts numerous parks, towers, churches and museums – included among them is the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari, the most important in the world when it comes to finds from the Nuragic Civilization. The Museum lies inside the Cittadella dei Musei, where both prehistoric and Byzantine objects are on exhibit. Also here are one of Europe’s most important monumental cemeteries: called Bonaria, it contains sculptures by Sardinian artists from the 1800s and 1900s. Equally famous, if not more impressive, is the Punic-Phoenician Tuvixeddu Necropolis. Cagliari is also quite a religious city, and within its city limits is the Basilica di San Saturnino, the oldest in Sardinia.
Visitors to Cagliari should visit its almost 5-mile Poetto Beach. The area is important to biologists and scientists from around the globe as a refuge for flamingo colonies; the birds keep their nests in the Molentargius Marsh and in the Santa Gilla Lagoon protected wetlands. Another beach just as lovely as Poetto is that known as Calamosca.
Cagliari's age-old charm, its shores and further inland zones, as well as its unique people, have continued to make the city highly-attractive for artists and cineastes, as well.
Not lacking for culture either, it offers a generous ballet and opera season at its Teatro Lirico, drama and comedy productions at Teatro Massimo, and summer concerts and its annual European Jazz Expo, frequented by some of the world’s best musicians.
Typical Cagliaritana cuisine is most closely related to that of the Sardinian Province of Medio Campidano; with Spanish and Ligurian influences, fish and seafood dominate (particularly fish eggs). The desserts are unbeatable, along with the wines: think Malvasia and the highly sought-after local Moscato.