Sassari is the second largest city in Sardinia with a population of about 130,000. The first university in Sardinia was founded here in 1562 and today it still has a bohemian reputation due to its large student population, although I didn’t particularly notice this in the ten days I was there in June.
You’ll find everything I mention on this Google map.
My first impressions weren’t that great when I arrived at the small train station and walked to the hotel but the town grew on me the longer I was there and the more I became aware of it’s long history.
Near the station, in the square at the bottom of Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, you can see the Colonna di Tavolara which depicts important historical events of the city.
I stayed at the Hotel Vittorio Emanuele (Intermediate B+), 100/102 Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, www.hotelvittorioemanuele.ss.it which is less than ten minutes’ walk from the station (left out of the station, first right and the hotel is on the right after a few hundred metres).
The hotel rooms are rather small and cramped (if you need desk space ask for a bigger room) but the breakfast is excellent and the staff are really friendly and helpful.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele was once the main street of the medieval town and many of the city’s squares and important buildings are placed around it.
I think this attractive lintel was along here somewhere but can’t quite remember where.
The streets and alleys can be quite narrow in this part of town.
The most beautiful building in the city is the Cattedrale de San Nicola which has a stunningly intricate façade.
Another famous sight is the Fountain of Rosello which is the symbol of the city. It was built in 1603 by Genoese craftsmen.
It’s located outside the old Pisan city walls, under the bridge Ponte di Rosello. For a small fee it’s possible to get a closer look but I was always working when it was open to the public. You can get more information here.
Another impressive place is the Piazza d’Italia which is the largest open public space in Sardinia.
The imposing Palazzo della Provincia which houses the prefecture of Sassari is located here.
A couple of old disused fountains are located in front of it.
In the middle of the square is a statue dedicated to Vittorio Emanuele II who was King of Sardinia until 1861 when he became the first king of the united Italy and reigned until his death in 1878. He was the symbol of the Risorgimento; the Italian unification movement of the 1850s and early 60s.
On the other side of the square is the neo-Gothic Palazzo Giordano (now home to the offices of a bank) which has some nice features around its front entrance.
Via Roma, which leads out of the south east side of Piazza d’Italia, has many impressive buildings along it including this wonderful ceramic tiled house at #48 (opposite the court building).
Further along at #64 Via Roma is Museo Nazionale “G.A. Sanna” which I have given its own post due to its extensive archaeological collection.
Other things that caught my eye include this nice modern sculpture on the crossroads of Via Brigata Sassari and Via Cagliari.
The city council also seems to have a penchant for these bonsai style trees which are dotted around the city.
Sardinian nationalism seems alive and well, at least according to some of the graffiti around town.
Although other pieces are less political.
And then of course there are the restaurants, of which more in a later post…