24 hours at Sardinia’s Capital City – Cagliari

A three-hour train ride from Sassari got me to the island’s capital of Cagliari; a city that I still struggle to pronounce. I pronounce it like the city in Canada, Calgary, with a soft g. It does look like this cag-li-ari, to the English mind, but alas that is not the case. The locals here pronounce it like cal-ra-re, where’s the g sound in that? So, after much pronunciation homework, I set off to explore this city by the sea to discover rooftop panoramas, hidden alleyways, and an immensely wide, soft sand beach with a sea so limpid a pebble would send it shivering.

24 hours at Sardinia’s Capital City

Cagliari is an easy city to get around with public transportation. I arrived by train, checked into the B&B, then grabbed a bus to Poetto Beach. You can buy bus tickets at any tabbaccaio – tobacconist/cigarette shop on via Roma. The bus stop just across the street from the shop, you’ll need the PQ or PF bus, both buses take you directly to Poetto. It was suggested I get off at the 6th stop along Via Lungo Saline, and I did just as I was told.  I had wanted to catch a glimpse of the pink flamingoes that flock to Stagno di Molentargius – Molentargius Pond and this was my first mission in the city.

Pieces of Poetto Beach

Poetto is Cagliari’s main beach and it stretches for about 8 kilometers, it’s also intensely wide. I’d never seen such a wide beach in all my life! The beach was empty except for a few small groups, and had I brought my swimmers I would have nestled into the warm September sand and taken a dip in the translucent water, but I was here to see pink flamingoes, off I went in search of these graceful and colourful birds. Via Lungo Saline is the strip that runs along Poetto Beach, it’s fitted with bicycle and running lanes, and a whole median that divides the sports enthusiasts from the cars and buses. Well done, Poetto Beach!

There were plenty of cyclists and runners going past, and I can see why with the freedom away from traffic. I walked a great length of this road in search of the entrance to the pond. Black thunderclouds were at my back and were beginning to awaken, I felt a little drop of rain and without rain gear decided to call it a day and grabbed the next bus back to the harbour. The twenty-minute bus ride from Poetto beach back to the harbour was worth it for the cold Ichnusa beer, the immense calm beach, the walk along via Lungo Saline, and the intense chatter from the patrons on the bus, even if I didn’t catch a glimpse of those wonderous birds. Next time, next time.

Cagliari City Scenes

There are beautiful churches scattered all over the city, and I’m afraid I haven’t the name of this quaint one, I was too lost in the moment. Cagliari is a good walking city, there are a lot of steep hills directly across the harbour; excellent walking shoes are a must to discover hidden treasures in this capital city.

There is so much colour in this city, from the buildings to the potted plants, and from the smiles on people’s’ faces to the most excellent and hilarious cab driver ever. Cagliari is a beautiful Mediterranean city in the deep south of the island. There are major roads in and out of the city connected by bus, taxi and a busy port. I’m an easy traveler, heck, I’ve done it for over 30 years, most times I don’t even use a map, but here in Cagliari I’d be lost without one. With her winding, seemingly never-ending streets it’s easy to get lost in this city maze.

At Bastione di Saint Remy with the harbour in the distance

I’m one of those travelers that like to look for the “underworld” of a city, and I find that gritty side in the colourful graffiti sprayed and or painted on the walls. For centuries Sardinia’s ancient walls have been used as a political outlet and to share traditional stories from town to town. Often I find myself drawn to graffiti, and look in awe, like in a museum, as I hope to understand what the artist is portraying.

Urban Cagliari

I forgot to mention the reason I went to Cagliari … my Mom and Aunt, and their husbands came on a cruise. Oh, the giggles we had while walking around the harbour; in and out of stores, and at the San Benedetto Market, which is the biggest indoor market in Italy, complete with a fresh fish floor! We ate at a little local restaurant just off Via Roma, called Sardo Food & Wine. We dined on the cobblestone patio at a comfortable for five. Workers on the building adjacent drilled away at … something, we tuned them out and ordered Vermentino and Cannonau for the table. Then came the two platters of local salumi and cheese. Oh, we were in heaven. The sun, the location, the smiles, and family, and probably a bit of the wine made my 24 hours in Cagliari most memorable, and I am eager to return. Maybe for the Juve game. 🙂

And that last, essential shot of Poetto Beach, early afternoon in black in white.

If you’re still following my story, thank you. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

When you travel to a new city, what activities do you seek out?

14 thoughts on “24 hours at Sardinia’s Capital City – Cagliari

  1. As a child we lived on the Poetto. This was the late 1950s. There were salt flats behind the houses where sea salt was harvested. The beach was amazing and was not heavily used except on holidays and Sundays. There were no marinas along the Devil’s Saddle. A wonderful city and location to gtow up in. After school was beach time every day. Aaaah – the great memories!!

    • Hello, poetto is changed a lot since the 50s, probably you remember the beach with its typical casottos, those cabins were demolished in the middle of 80s, this was necessary to sanitize the beach; the panorama improved a lot but in the years the dunes went lost with the sand due to the wind, some “clever” dude tried to refill the beach but with terrible results, the golden sand is now only towards Quartu, but in the Cagliari’s side it’s almost a dirty gray, but it’s the most loved beach of cagliaritani and surrounders

  2. Hi Jennifer–
    Nice piece on Cagliari! Do you have trouble pronouncing “tagliatelle”? If not you shouldn’t
    have trouble with Cagliari. But I can see how you are getting interference from Calgary!
    And we couldn’t find the flamingoes either!
    Warm regards–
    Maggie Rosa

    • Hi Maggie, yes, I do have trouble pronouncing “tagliatelle,” it’s the G that gets in the way. Wow, glad I’m not the only one who couldn’t find the flamingoes, it’s also possible they weren’t there the days we went. 😉

      • Hehe, why don’t you call it Casteddu instead, like the most of sardinians do, that way it’s much easier.

        The next time you’ll be here in casteddu and you look for flamingoes try along the ponds near Quartu, often they are very close to the road, even a few meters from the traffic;or at sunset sit near the cruise terminal at the port and look above for the flocks of flamingoes coming back to home from “work”, you can be lucky and see dolphins chasing mullet fish.

        The church is Sant’Eulalia in Quartiere Marina, the exterior is not so terrific, the interior is a little better but the surprise is below, there is beneath a well preserved roman road.

        Saludi da casteddu

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