Cagliari is a city like no other Italian city we have visited. It’s a port city, and it wears its history on its sleeve. Everywhere you go you come across traces of its rich past, from ancient Roman ruins, to museums filled with prehistoric artefacts, to centuries-old churches and and elegant palazzi. It is located on the Bay of the Angels (Golfo degli Angeli) and, like Rome, it was built on seven hills, which identify the historic neighbourhoods of the city. The port area is busy, busy, busy – the main road runs along the sea front and cars and buses and vespas and motorbikes whizz past, so you need to be on your toes. Once on the city side though, it reveals itself as a beautifully elegant place, with imposing, honey coloured buildings, with elaborate balconies and shuttered windows, facing the sea. Wide tree-lined boulevards are packed with cafes and bars, and people catching up, eating, drinking and generally making life look pretty wonderful!
We stayed in an apartment, up the hill from the sea, but still “downtown”, on the beautiful Piazza Yenne. The piazza is bordered by bars and restaurants at ground level, and is lively. But, look up, and you see those beautiful buildings with balconies and railings and shutters. Our apartment was on the top floor of one of these buildings and have been exquisitely renovated – with sound-proofing, too, so we could shut out the noise when we wanted to. Piazza Yenne is the main meeting point for locals, especially during the hot summer nights. People gather here to have a chat before moving on; to sit in the terraces of the many cafes and bars, or simply, to passeggiata. Over the course of two visits to Cagliari we were there for four days in total, and so managed to get out and about and explore quite a lot of the whole city. It’s magical. It’s beautiful. It’s raw and feels real, the kind of city you could actually imagine living in.
You can either climb up to the upper town, or take a glass street elevator (at the top of Piazza Yenne) – whichever you prefer, just do it, because the upper part of town is even more beautiful and the views even more spectacular. It’s also not quite a crowded and busy, so you can feel a little more as if you have bits of the city to yourself, even in the height of summer.