|At the centre of the Mediterranean
A holiday in Cagliari is the most varied you can imagine: art, culture, history and the sea intertwine in the Sardinian capital founded in the Neolithic period and enriched over the centuries by the influence of the numerous communities that inhabited it.
Cagliari, spread out over 7 hills, extends from the Castello district (from where it overlooks the whole city) to the coast of Poetto, a seven kilometre-long beach facing the Golfo degli Angeli, a favourite destination of the people of Cagliari who like to spend their free time between the beach and the numerous kiosks.
It is also dotted with lagoons and natural oases such as the pond of Molentargius, that of Santa Gilla and the famous Saline, home of the pink flamingos.
The city will astonish you with its rich tapestry of architecture and traditions: the alleys of the Marina and Stampace districts, which stand out against the Castello skyline, are picturesque places packed with bazaars and restaurants which contrast with the great shopping streets such as via Manno or via Dante, where you can find luxury boutiques and shops of the most famous brands.
Its history is also reflected in the architecture of the town, which feature numerous monuments not to be missed by visitors.
The Bastion of Saint Remy, for example, represents one of the most prestigious exhibition spaces in the historic centre and connects Castello with the lower part of the city. Erected between 1896 and 1902, it is a truly spectacular building, consisting of a monumental staircase leading to the Covered Walk and the two beautiful terraces Umberto I and Bastione di Santa Caterina, from where you can enjoy one of the most stunning views of the city.
A splendid example of the Roman era, the Cagliari Amphitheatre dates back to between the 1st and 2nd century AD and was built inside the rock of the hill which houses it. Its ruins are located in the centre of the city, near the Villa of Tigellio and not far from the Botanical Garden and from the Citadel of the Museums, other stops which you we recommend you don't skip.
Another place to visit is the famous Torre dell'Elefante, designed by the Sardinian architect Giovanni Capula and completed in 1307. Over 30 metres high, it protected the south-western slope of the Castello district, and remains one of its most distinctive entrances to this day, adorned on the façade by a statue depicting an elephant, from which it takes its name.
Finally, among the monuments which are absolutely not to be missed is the Sanctuary of Bonaria, the first example of Gothic-Catalan architecture in Sardinia, located on the eponymous hill: the religious structure consists of the actual sanctuary (the smaller church, of fourteenth-century origins) and the larger basilica, dating back to the early 1700s, and houses the wooden statue of the Madonna with Child who, according to legend appeared on the beach in front of the hill. This Madonna, worshipped throughout Sardinia, is also celebrated in Cagliari in July, with a procession to the sea.
Another event not to be missed, if you are in Cagliari on the 1st of May, is the festival of Sant'Efisio, a religious procession in which numerous groups from all over Sardinia participate and wear the traditional dress of their town, as well as thousands of devotees and festively decorated ox-drawn carts.
A memorable holiday should not miss out on good food: in Cagliari you will find trattorias and restaurants for every palate, where you can enjoy the best typical Sardinian cuisine and many regional delicacies of a city on the sea which has undergone strong Genoese and Catalan influences. Absolutely worth trying is the fregola (similar to couscous but bigger) with seafood, the lobster alla Campidanese, the Bottarga, the traditional Malloreddus (little semolina dumplings often flavoured with vegetables or saffron and with a meat sauce), the Succu (semolina soup seasoned with saffron) and the classic lamb and roast pork.
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