Cagliari is probably the most metropolitan of the cities on Sardegna. But don’t come here looking for fantastic shopping, an abundance of ruins, or anything else of that nature; it’s the capital, and a port, and that’s it.
In all of my research, there doesn’t appear to be a plethora of hotels from which to choose in Cagliari. In fact, I think I could only find about 5 four-star hotels and no five-star. And there were only a few three-stars that I recall. But if your travels take you to Cagliari and you want to spend a day – which I highly recommend just so you can get a flavor of the capital – I would highly recommend the T Hotel (www.thotel.it). It’s a bit removed from the “center” but a lovely walk all the same. (Public transport isn’t high on the Sardinian programme so be prepared to walk.) And the hotel is a bit big for my preferences but I must admit, the staff is outstanding and the rooms huge and creatively decorated. There was also something about the rotating art installation in the lobby (that’s how big the hotel is!) that changed during the 2 days I was there that I really liked. But most of all, the T Hotel has the best breakfast I have ever experienced in any hotel in the world. Full stop! The fresh squeezed blood orange juice each morning was the epitome of sweet nectar: I nearly made myself sick each day because I couldn’t get enough! And just about anything else you could want to start off your day was available.
I chose to be in Cagliari near Ferre Agosta – a national holiday in Italy and the start of the Italian holidays – so most restaurants in the city were closed. So, my only proper meal – my first meal in Italy is always buffala mozzarella, bread, tomatoes, olives, and wine, in my room, something I started when I first came to Italy in 1992 – was at the T Hotel. It’s a lovely restaurant and if you don’t mind having dinner in your hotel, check it out. For me, my next trip to Cagliari will involve greater adventures in the culinary persuits!
The one thing that most people come to Cagliari to see is the Roman Amphitheatre. Regrettably, the Amphitheatre is closed indefinitely because of erosion and they are desperately trying to preserve this landmark.
A walk along the port – which runs parallel to Via Roma, the main shopping street – is a lovely way to end the day or even relax in the afternoon soon. Thankfully, even though it’s a port, there are not huge container ships there so don’t be afraid.
And if you have the chance, seek out the Cattedrale do Santa Maria. It really is a stunning basilica – and nearly the highest point in Cagliari (which happens to be the Arsenale, just up the street) – and given it’s location and the craftsmanship that is evident there, it’s well worth the hike.
And finally, and although not a site, per se, I highly recommend that you seek out this little shop called Sini on via Baylle (off of Via Roma near the port). Sini specializes in all sorts of knives (coltelli) and thanks to the advice of Mauro at the T Hotel, the famous Pattada and Arbus knives that are still handmade to this day. The man who owns the shop doesn’t speak English, but if you come with the name of what you want written on a piece of paper, and use a bit of pantomime, he’ll show you the knives he has in dusty little boxes behind him. These knives aren’t cheap, so making a decision is difficult, but you really shouldn’t leave Sardegna without one!