Cagliari was to have been a simple stop over on our way further around the coast before we set off for Salerno from a place called Arbatrax, half way up the east coast of Sardinia; however, a forecast of poor weather meant we stayed in Cagliari for 6 days before we could get a couple of clear days to head across to the mainland.
The city, Sardinia’s capital, is spread around the commercial port and pretty much conformed to my impression of Port cities. The old of town is built on a large hill and the castle walls were built to reinforce that hill, in places they are quite massive. Within the walls the town is a maze of narrow streets between tall buildings and much of the place seems to be rather shabby.
The most impressive buildings were the Bastione Saint Remy, the Cathedral di Santa Maria and the Palazzo Régio.
The Bastione was a 19th century addition to the original 14th century walls and is described as a monumental staircase; an accurate description. It links the Constitution Square with the top of the ramparts. Happily there is a lift close by as the entire Bastione was closed for repairs.
The Cathedral was started in the 13th century by the Pisans but was subject to the influences of the Aragonese, Spanish and the Genoans. It is suitably impressive.
The Palazzo Regio is alongside the Cathedral and was originally built in the 14th century to house the Spanish Viceroy. Much of what is now evident dates from the 18th Century remodelling. During the Napoleonic Wars it was home to the Italian Royal family in exile from Turin. It is now the seat of the city government.
There is also a museum in the old town which houses the archaeological finds from the Bronze and Iron Ages in Sardinia, giving context to all the massive Nuraghe we’d visited on the island. That for me was about the best bit of the day, because otherwise we were pretty underwhelmed, even a little disappointed!
All the while we were in Cagliari we saw flights of flamingos which Valeria tried to photograph without much success, so on our last day we decided to go and visit them at the salt flats a few kilometres from the marina. The weather was overcast and the old salt pans were a bit dreary but the flamingos and other birds made up for it.
And that was Cagliari. My highlight was the museum, and Valeria’s was the flamingos!