While many of us here in Malta have a strong affnity with Italy and our neighbouring isle of Sicily, very few of us have ventured to our next sister shoreline of Sardinia. Steeped in history, ancient castles, mystery, exquisite gastronomy and sprawling white beaches, Sardinia really offers a heavenly escape.
Sardinia is vastly different to Sicily, and even mainland Italy; in fact, a term the locals have coined is “Sardegna non est Italia”, as many fought for independence from the mainland. With its own language and strong identity, it is easy to see why Sardinians do not feel Italian. During my time in Sardinia, a good friend once told me; “We are only Italian when it comes to football”. So, let me tell you a little more about the capital of Cagliari.
Situated in the southern tip of Sardinia, lies the ancient port capital city of Cagliari. The ancient capital is in fact closer to Tunisia than Rome – a bustling port brimming with a mix of traditional life and city. Cagliari remains unique in that it others a fantastic world class urban beach – Il Poetto. This award-winning beach stretches for 8km along the flanks of the city. Behind Poetto is an incredible salt pan, a nature lover’s paradise and home to flocks of flamingos.
Cagliari radiates history and the memory of the ancient cultures that succeeded in the city. As centuries went by, the numerous and different people that inhabited Cagliari infused a homely character toward the visitors. The testimony of the different cultures is evident through its streets; the Punic in the ruins of the Necropoli of Tuvixeddu, the Roman Karales in the magnificent amphitheatre, and the Byzantine in the Basilica of San Saturnino to name a few.
Built from white limestone, the walls and towers of the old town glisten in the strong Sardinian sun and are a magnificent sight. Especially if you are fortunate enough to approach the city from the sea like D.H. Lawrence did in 1921, when he described the old town as looking like a “Jerusalem without trees.” The quarter is now an art lovers’ and student haven. You can readily hear jazz quartets oozing ditties from neighbouring bars.
Below Castello Saint Remy Bastion, you can find Piazza Yenne, surrounded by two of Cagliari’s biggest shopping streets, Via Manno and Via Garibaldi. The square is at the heart of the Marina district. On a balmy summer evening, you can find the square bustling with locals out for an evening of gelato or sipping on some of the crisp local Vermentino. Dotted around the square is a maze of narrowing streets, full of unique boutiques and more traditional souvenir shops. Nestled in these side streets are plenty of restaurants offering Apertivo, the Italian happy hour. One pays a set price for a spritz and is provided with an array of local delicacies. I won’t tell you which place is best for apertivo – that’s part of the fun in finding and deciding for yourself!
Sardinia offers no limit to gastronomic delights – (I strongly advise you to diet before you step foot on the island!) Incredible pizzas can be found at I Due Fratelli; (though be sure to book your table well in advance). Scout the menu for traditional Sardinia pasta dishes such as Malloreddus and fresh Seafood Fregola. Keep an eye out for Curlugiones – a traditional Sardinian stuffed pasta. For those with a sweet tooth, do not leave the island without trying Seadas or Seada. These heavenly traditional fritters are famous worldwide; the local sweet honey with the sharp juxtaposition of salty pecorino cheese are combined to emanate a rich, intense and unforgettable flavour. Be sure to wash everything down with the national beer; Ichnusa.
Cagliari’s airport is at Elmas – 7km north-west of the city. Elmas Aeroporto railway station is a ve-minute walk from the terminal. Buy a €1.25 ticket from a ticket machine, and stamp it before you board or you might be risking a hefty ne. ere are about four trains per hour, taking less than ten minutes to reach Cagliari railway station. Although there are currently no direct flights from Malta, one can readily switch planes in Rome or Trapani.
Both Marina and Castello districts offer no end of highly desirable places to put your head down at the end of a day of sightseeing. Boutique B and B Antica Residenza Marina
di Castello, offers jaw dropping panoramic views of the infamous crystal clear sea whilst theare are hoards of hostels around for those on a shoe string budget. If you are looking to push the proverbial boat out in style, a little further out of the historical core is the renowed T hotel – it’s modern design also lends itself nowadays a s a landmark in the city skyline.
It comes as no surprise that Sardinia is a land steeped with intrigue, and definitely the next island you should put on your bucket list. Home to so many historical sites and heavenly beaches, it lends itself as a perfect weekend getaway, for foodies and families alike.
© 2018 – VIDA Magazine – Dayna Clarke