The city of Cagliari is a shining jewel in the Mediterranean. Formally known as the capital of the Italian island province of Sardinia, Cagliari has seen many changes in its five thousand years of being in existence. Various civilizations have helped to make the city a landscape of ancient history with a firm modern sensibility, especially when it comes to art. Take a look at seven of the best things to do in Cagliari for visitors.
1. Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria
The Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria is a complex of three buildings that include a basilica, a monastery, and a sanctuary that have been at the bottom of a hill in Bonaria since 1335. The sacred site is also known as Our Lady of Fair Winds and is run by the Mercedarian order. Highly revered as a patron site for sailors, the complex is a sprawling and pastoral scene that does have quite a few works of art and a number of crypts dating back to the 15th century among highlights for visitors.
Santuario e Basilica di Bonaria
Address: Piazza Bonaria, 2, 09125 Cagliari, Italy
2. Museo Archeologico Nazionale Cagliari
The ancient historical wonders of Cagliari and the rest of the country reside here in this grand museum. Located atop a hill in a district that contains other museums, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale is home to a vast number of artifacts that cover all of the different civilizations that have resided in the area, such as the Byzantines and remnants from a Phoenician settlement for example. The museum is laid out in a straightforward manner with easy to read digital displays in conjunction with some of the exhibits, covering a total of four floors. The Museo Archelogico Nazionale is also family-friendly, with special workshops aimed at those groups wanting to learn more about the art history of the region.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale Cagliari
Address: Piazza Arsenale 1, 09124 Cagliari
3. Cattedrale di Santa Maria
This religious site has remained a steady point of attraction in Cagliari and with good reason — it looms over the Piazza Palazzo adding to the picturesque quality of the area. The cathedral dates back to the 13th century, although there is only one element that still remains from that time, which is the bell tower. Once inside, visitors will be amazed at the number of relics that were first constructed in the 1100s that are present, in addition to the vivid frescoes found on the ceilings. Another point of interest lies in the crypt — guests are required to pay an extra fee for access, but once inside they will get to see the remains of the local martyrs in the 179 niches found within.
Cattedrale Di Santa Maria
Address: Piazza Palazzo 4
Website: Cattedrale Di Santa Maria
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4.Visit the San Benedetto Market
Gourmands and those who truly enjoy diving into the local scenes of cities they visit will revel in a trip to the San Benedetto Market. The market is the place where locals go daily for their produce and other food purchases, and it’s the most prominent of five in the area. It’s indoors, with a ground floor and the basement level that mainly is the domain of the fish sellers. There are other delicacies available for visitors to try such as ricotta bread and for the more adventurous, horse meat. There’s even a wine shop on the premises.
The San Benedetto Market
Address: 09128, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
5. The Beaches at Poetto
One of the more definite activities one has to engage in while visiting Cagliari is a trip to the famed beaches at Poetto. Located not too far from the marinas, the beaches are right near the Viale de Poetto and can be easily recognized by the colorful array of sizeable umbrellas that dot the sands. There’s a number of bars and cafes along the Viale de Poetto for those thirsty before and after to wet their whistle. Once you get onto the beach, it may be hard to pull away from the sparkling turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. There are also paths for joggers and bike riders to take in the scenery if they choose not to walk the full length, which is about eight kilometers (five miles) from Sella del Diavolo on up to Quartu Sant'Elena. One note — there are a few private areas that aren’t clearly marked, so its best to ask around to avoid any possible commotion and entry.
The Beaches at Poetto
Address: Lungomare Poetto, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
6. Walk the Il Castello
The Il Castello is a key centerpiece of the city of Cagliari, which is also known as Su Casteddu by locals. This area is the largest of the city’s four historic districts and was created in the thirteenth century by the militia from Pisa. To that end, the street that cuts through the district is framed by a combination of houses and older buildings that speak to the area’s previous life as a fortified center complete with high walls and several squares. A walk here will also allow visitors to take in the numerous churches that are here as well as the five museums that call the area home including the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the National Art Gallery. One other sight to be seen via the Il Castello is the Anfiteatro Romano.
The Il Castello
Website: The Il Castello
7. Spend a Sunset at the Marina
The Marina Piccola is a great place for visitors to take in the sight of a tranquil Mediterranean sunset. The promenade isn’t too lengthy but does contain a small number of cafes that one can dine at if they choose. The backdrop of vintage apartment buildings and businesses adds to the allure, along with a selection of street vendors hawking their wares at certain points. It’s also in close proximity to Poetto and its beaches.
The Marina at Cagliari
Address: Port of Cagliari, Cagliari, Sardinia
Website: The Marina at Cagliari
Closing out the day in Cagliari
For those that want to truly steep themselves in an experience that gives them the best of all facets of Italian culture, being in Cagliari touches on every aspect in ways both quaint and up to date. And all of it can be taken in with respect to the genteel ease that is a cornerstone of this city.
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