Home ItalySouthern ItalySardiniaCagliari Why you should visit Cagliari all year round

Why you should visit Cagliari all year round

The proximity to some of the most famous beaches in the world may have made Cagliari famous, but the capital town of Sardinia offers so much more than unspoiled coastlines and postcard-pretty landscapes.

It’s an authentic city, worth a visit all year round.

When I asked the locals what the thing they loved most about Cagliari was, the answer was always the same: their quality of life. In Cagliari, the rich cultural offerings of a lively student city are combined with the easy lifestyle of a village. Cagliari is blessed by the sea, a mild climate all year round, and exceptional Sardinian cuisine.

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Cagliari is a beautiful city made of limestone buildings and art nouveau palaces, although there is no lack of a busy street art and graffiti scene.

Did you know that some of the most internationally renowned Italian street artists are from Sardinia?

visit cagliari sardegnaVISIT CAGLIARI SARDINIA

Where to find street art in Cagliari

Street Art at Panda Monserrato

Inside the former military airport in the outskirts of Cagliari, my fellow art blogger Barbara Picci and her partner in crime, Matteo Ambu, are curating a muralist project, called Panda Monserrato, which is aimed at revamping the former hangar in order to make the area more suitable for local kids and youngsters, especially for those who love playing basketball (since the place is now a sporting club with a basketball school).

freom street art cagliari panda monserrato

Freom @ Panda Monserrato

Panda Monserrato is still a work in progress: many walls are yet to be assigned and some artists have yet to return to finish their piece. It was there where I found murals by the well-known Sardinian street artist Crisa and other local artists that I’ve just discovered during my time in Cagliari, such as Skan, Enea, Marco Pautasso, Fema, Luca Allegrini, Freom, Kofa, Daniele Grg, and Barbara Picci helself (a.k.a. Brabs).

brabs street art cagliari panda monserrato

Brabs @ Panda Monserrato

Crisa’s artwork at Panda Monserrato is striking. It’s quite different from his usual production, and I love the palette of colors that he implemented here, which perfectly matches the rusty surface of the former hangar.

crisa street art cagliari panda monserrato

Also Skan created a beautiful mural on the forgotten walls of the Panda Monserrato, where he painted one of his most surreal, iconic images of countenances that intersect, overlap, and merge in a dreamy scenario.

skan cagliari street art panda monserrato

Barbara Picci and Matteo Ambu invited not only street artists but also local contemporary artists, such as Marco Pautasso (who painted a face in bright, neon colors), to paint on the walls of the former military airport in Cagliari.

panda monserrato street art

Matteo Ambu x Enea x Fema x Laura Saddi x Marco Pautasso @ Panda Monserrato

Street Art at Galleria del Sale

Curated by Urban Center Cagliari, Galleria del Sale is an urban open-air art gallery on a cycling path that runs along a canal. Started in 2014, the project hosted both Italian and international street artists (among which was my friend Billy Colours!), who were invited to paint along with the theme of the relationship between men and nature, since the cycle path ended at the entrance of the Molentargius Natural Park (more on this beautiful park below).

daniele dgr street art galleria del sale cagliari

Daniele GRG @ Galleria del Sale

street art cagliari galleria del sale

Andreco @ Galleria del Sale

galleria del sale street art cagliari

Ericailcane x Andrea Casciu x Crisa @ Galleria del Sale

street art cagliari galleria del sale

Bastardilla @ Galleria del Sale

My favorite murals at Galleria del Sale are the ones by Zed1 and the three well-known Sardinian artists Skan, Andrea Casciu, and Freak, who painted a flamingo (the symbolic animal of the city) wearing a gas mask.

zed1 street art cagliari galleria del saleskan street art cagliari galleria del saleandrea casciu street art cagliari galleria del salefreak street art cagliari galleria del sale

Graffiti in the city centre of Cagliari

Through the Facebook Group “Street Art Cagliari” I got in touch with several graffiti and street art lovers, who all advised me on where to find street art in Cagliari. One popular spot that everybody mentioned was the staircase leading to Terrapieno, where you can find an amazing piece by Skan, among many others murals.

skan street art cagliari city centre

terrapieno graffiti cagliari

Nearby was the Via San Saturnino, which is Cagliari’s “Hall of Fame.” Not only is it packed with graffiti new and old, but it’s also the entrance to what I figured to be the most picturesque area of all Cagliari: the Villanova neighborhood.

graffiti cagliari sardegna graffiti cagliari sardegna graffiti cagliari sardinia

Street Art at Exmé in Pirri

The ExMé is a former market in Pirri, a low-income area of Cagliari. Pirri’s buildings are mostly social housing, therefore consisting of tall grey blocks, so Urban Center Cagliari found them to be perfect for the street art project “Is Murusu de Santa Teresa,” which was launched in 2015.

exme pirri street art cagliari

Painted by Crisa on a quite neglected building, my favorite mural in Pirri is about war and the scars that it leaves, both literally and metaphorically.

crisa street art cagliari exme pirri

Another beautiful mural in Pirri is the one by the Belgian Dzia, which depicts a couple of pink flamingos. The piece is inspired by the two balconies of the facade, which suggested to the street artist the idea that the two people standing on them will communicate easily. So the flamingos start from the two corners of the facade and eventually reunite at the top.

I also liked the collaborative piece by Manu Invisible and Frode, a long black wall that served as a blackboard, on which Manu Invisible painted colorful beams of floating light to symbolize the renaissance of the neighborhood, while Frode painted an equally colourful parrot.

manu invisible street art cagliari exme pirri

Another collaborative piece that stands out in the Pirri neighborhood is the one by Davide Medda and Kofa, which is characterized by colors and patterns recalling Sardinian arts and crafts, especially the baskets. In the middle of the mural is a young girl looking at the future. I like the assumption that the future should root into traditions in order to lead to a true renaissance.

kofa davide medda street art cagliari exme pirri

More Street Art in Cagliari

Murals by Tellas in Cagliari

My favorite mural in Cagliari is an old piece by Tellas in Sant’Avendrace (Via Tevere 26). Titled “Under the City,” this stunning mural was painted in 2015. Here, the Sardinian artist depicted a seascape inspired by the Santa Gilla ponds. It represents the hidden potential of the inhabitants of Sant’Avendrace, a remote area that is slowly turning into a lively neighborhood.

tellas street art cagliari via tevere

I found a second wall by Tellas in Monserrato, an area in the outskirts of Cagliari that is well known for the production of wine. He painted it in the color of red wine, and in between Tellas’ iconic figures we can see a wine leaf.

tellas street art cagliari monserrato

Murals by Manu Invisible in Cagliari

In Monserrato there is also a mural by the Sardinian artist Manu Invisible on a veterinary clinic. Manu Invisible is known for using a special paint that mixes colors with a fine quartz powder, making his artwork sparkle.

 

manu invisible street art cagliari monserrato

By Manu Invisible are also two more murals that I spotted in Cagliari, both on public schools and both honoring the Italian artists to whom the two schools are named after. The first one is a portrait of the writer Ugo Foscolo, while the second is an homage to Michelangelo Buonarroti.

manu invisible ugo foscolo cagliari street artmanu invisible michelangelo Cagliari

Jana’s public intervention in Is Mirrionis neighborhood

Not long ago, the contemporary artist Daniela Frongia (a.k.a. Jana’s) created a work on a powerhouse in Via Barbagia. It’s an interesting piece of art made of ropes that form curious abstract shapes on a black background. Since the beginning of her artistic career, which has evolved into something diverse and multi-faceted, Daniela Frongia has often used ropes and fabrics. Textiles play a central role in her art and in her life, too: she grows both flax and cotton plants and she knows how to weave Sardinian wool.

daniela frongia street art cagliari

Visit Cagliari off the beaten path > The Monumental Cemetery of Bonaria

The Monumental Cemetery of Bonaria opened in 1829 in an area that was once used as a necropolis by the Punics, Romans, and early Christians.

cimitero bonaria cagliari cemetery cimitero bonaria cagliari cemetery cimitero bonaria cagliari cemetery

Bonaria Cemetery’s chapels and tombstones were built by the most important artists working in Cagliari between the 19th and the 20th centuries, a time when families flaunted their richness by building precious memorials.

bonaria cemetery in cagliari sardegnabonaria cemetery in cagliari sardegnabonaria cemetery in cagliari sardegna

The cemetery expanded on a hill: the more you climbed your way along the lines of cypress trees -but now there are also more Sardinian palms and hibiscuses- the better view you’d get.

monumental cemetery cagliari sardinia monumental cemetery cagliari sardinia

The renowned historical and artistic heritage of the Bonaria Cemetery comprises of statues, busts, pyramids, funerary urns, and mausoleums that are in styles ranging from neoclassical to baroque and art nouveau. They are made mostly of marble, which I found to be a funny juxtaposition considering the exposed limestone on the hill.

monumental tombstone in cagliari cemetry bonariamonumental tombstone in cagliari cemetry bonariamonumental cemetery cagliari sardinia

Visit Cagliari off the beaten path > The Park of Molentargius

The Park of Molentargius is well known for being home to hundreds of pink flamingos: there are so many that became the symbol of the city. Even the way they are called in Sardinian language, (“sa genti arrubia,” which can be translated as “population of red people”) stresses the fact that they constitute a large group (and it is the funniest name I’ve ever heard of. I couldn’t stop stuffing random sentences with it, just like when children learn a new word).

fenicotteri rosa cagliari

Credits: Ivoha

The area was once a place for the extraction of salt from the sea, an activity that stopped in 1985. It became a natural park in 1999, and it was named after the donkeys, “su molenti”, that carried the salt from the basins. Nowadays, the regional natural park of Molentargius is a well-known place for many migratory bird species, among which are my beloved pink flamingos.

pink flamingos cagliari

Credits: Renata Apanaviciene

The 10 best Cagliari restaurants, bars and places to go out

Food Market in Cagliari > San Benedetto

San Benedetto is the main food markets in Cagliari and, apparently, the largest one in Italy. It didn’t seem so big to me, but with its 8,000 sq. ft. on two levels it claims to be the largest indoor food market in Europe.

mercato san benedetto cagliari

However, I would say that the San Benedetto food market in Cagliari is the cleanest and prettiest food market I’ve ever seen. Wandering around its pyramids of fresh fruit and vegetables, I couldn’t help noticing how beautifully the food had been arranged.

cagliari food market san benedetto

fish market cagliari san benedetto

The lower level is completely devoted to fish. You can also find a few stalls serving fried fish, but they didn’t look too convincing to me… so I opted for buying the fish and cooking it at home, together with a local sea weed, called “salicornia,” that I tried for the very first time (discovering that it’s super tasty!).

cagliari san benedetto food market san benedetto food market cagliari

Panoramic Café in Cagliari > Caffè degli Spiriti

My chance to get to know Cagliari better arose when I got invited to attend International Summer Week 2018. The event kicked off on the panoramic terrace of the “Caffè degli Spiriti.” Here, we had our opening party and got to know each other while sipping local beers on the large mattresses scattered around the terrace. The place is fancy yet relaxed, although perhaps a bit pricey, but the view is worth it.

caffe degli spiriti terrace cagliari sardegna

Panoramic Café in Cagliari > Caffè delle Arti

The next day, we partied on yet another panoramic terrace: the nearby Caffè delle Arti. This terrace is higher and more intimate than the one at Caffé degli Spirtiti and they serve exceptional craft beers from the region.

caffe degli artisti cagliari

And here is the view:

panoramic terrace caffe degli artisti cagliari sardinia

Vegetarian Restaurant in Cagliari > Made

There was also a nice bistro for when you need a healthy meal fix. They serve smoothies, juice, salads, and all things fresh. I had an amazing tuna salad made from olives and legendary Sardinian cheese. It probably wasn’t the lightest option on the menu, but it was friggin’ tasty!

made vegetarian restaurant cagliari sardinia

Bakery in Cagliari > Dulcis

This bakery serves homemade, traditional sweets from Sardinia and a lot of different cakes too! However, when I entered it, the first thing that got my attention was the scent of fruity teas in the air; I wanted to try them all!

dulcis pasticceria cagliari sardegna

Deli in Cagliari > Salsamenteria

Another good spot for foodies who also have a thing for design is the Salsamenteria, where you can find everything from regional cheeses to fresh juice and local craft beers, either to buy or to consume there on the tables in the middle of this trendy open space area.

salsamenteria cagliari

Pizzeria in Cagliari > Down Town

It’s not easy to make pizza for more than 150 people, baking it all in just one coal oven while still serving them almost at once. But at Down Town Pizzeria, they made it happen and pizza night was the favorite dinner of all of my fellow summerweekers. Despite the fact that I find it weirdly uncommon to eat pizza in Sardinia, I must admit the pizza here was delicious and, on top of that, the pizza maker looked exactly like Jack Sparrow.

downtown pizzeria cagliari

 

Pizzeria in Cagliari > Il Porcile

Here, we had our “Last Survivor’s” dinner to celebrate the end of International Summer Week 2018. That night I was pretending to be on a diet, and so I just ordered some grilled vegetables, although I ended up tasting different slices of pizza from my neighbors, which I must say was crispy and delicious.

pizzeria il porcile cagliari trattoria

Fish Restaurant in Cagliari > Civico Mare

Although Sardinian cuisine revolves around meat, I couldn’t help the fact that the beautiful sea nearby was making me crave fish. So I dragged a friend to Civico Mare, a hip fish restaurant in the city center where we shared the several options from the lunch menu: mussel soup with garlic croutons, orecchiette with aubergine cream, smoked tuna and pesto, and a salad with shrimp and celery. The food was nice, although we were expecting bigger servings, so we left the restaurant slightly disappointed.

civico mare cagliari

Hipster Bar in Cagliari > Florio

I walked past Florio’s outside tables during Summer Week’s treasure hunt. They were scattered around a tiny postcard-pretty square, which was filled with laughs and toasting glasses. I intended to go there for a drink before leaving the city, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it… Hopefully next time!

florio cagliari

Bonus Track: More Places to Visit in Cagliari

A secret spot > Manuel

Still on my wish list is this hidden bakery that produces brioches and more baked goods for Cagliari’s cafés. Rumor has it that if you manage to knock on the right door Manuel will open up and give you a freshly baked brioche straight out from his oven. The perfect ending after a long (party-filled) night.

A Panoramic Terrace > Ghetto degli Ebrei

Ghetto degli Ebrei is is where I ended my beautiful week in Cagliari with that crazy bunch of people known as summerweekers. Our closing party was at sunset on a beautiful terrace overlooking the city. We had external catering provide food and drinks, which is something quite common at the Ghetto degli Ebrei: they don’t normally serve food, but the terrace is so breathtaking that it’s often rented out for feasts and other events. Otherwise, you can simply come here to enjoy the view and temporary art shows.

ghetto degli ebrei terrace cagliari

 

Find all these spots on my Cagliari Google Map

 

Sardinia Travel Video > My Summer in Sardinia… in 1 minute! 

 

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