Archive for the Cagliari Category

Cagliari – street art

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, Sardinia with tags on March 11, 2016 by gannet39

Like most Italian cities there is street art everywhere in Cagliari. This isn’t a guide, just a few bits and bobs that I personally stumbled across when I was walking around.


A bit of graff…


…and some street art. The first is a whale by CRISA.



The heads below are by S.I.I. Felice who seems to be the most prolific artist.



Stencils are very popular.


Lots more pics and links here.


Cagliari – Quartiere Castello – Palazzo Viceregio

Posted in Cagliari, Castello, Italy, Sardinia with tags , on March 10, 2016 by gannet39

Next to the cathedral in Piazza Palazzo is the Palazzo Viceregio or Viceregal Palace


Entrance is free and it’s not very big so it’s worth a look quick look around.



Built in the early 14th century by the Pisans, it was the residence of the representative of the king during the Aragonese and Savoy occupations.



It has undergone various refits over time and is now the seat of the prefecture of Cagliari.

Between 1799 and 1815 it was occupied by the Italian royal family who had been forced into exile by Napoleon.


The most impressive room is the council room which was remodelled between 1893 and 1896 with new frescoes and stucco work.




Cagliari – Quartiere Castello – Cattedrale di Cagliari

Posted in Cagliari, Castello, Italy, Sardinia with tags on March 9, 2016 by gannet39

For me the most beautiful building in Cagliari is the stunning 13th century cathedral.


The original style was Pisan-Romanesque (Pisa once controlled Sardinia) but it was given a Baroque makeover in the 17th and 18th centuries.


The cathedral was renovated again in the 1930s when it received its current neo-Romanesque façade which is quite similar to the original. This and other features were greatly influenced by the Cathedral of Pisa.


Above the lintels of the three front doorways are lunettas containing brightly coloured mosaics.



The two beautiful pulpits, sculpted in the mid-12th century, were originally destined for the Cathedral of Pisa but were later donated to Cagliari.


Below the presbytery balustrade are four marble lions.



The one outside, on the wall opposite the cathedral, has seen better days poor thing.


In the northern transept is the ornate 17th century mausoleum of Martin I of Sicily who died during an invasion by Sardinia’s island neighbour.


Other sculptures depict scenes from the Bible.



In the crypt is the Sanctuary of the Martyrs…


…which contains relics of the martyrs of Cagliari.



The crypt is divided into three chapels decorated in Baroque style.


Back outside, the carvings above the side door of the cathedral are quite nice too.


One of the most beautiful cathedrals in Italy. I thoroughly recommend it, and that’s coming from an atheist!

Cagliari – Quartiere Castello – Museo Archeologico Nazionale

Posted in Cagliari, Castello, Italy, Sardinia with tags , , on March 8, 2016 by gannet39

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari was the highlight of my visit to the castle. It’s open from 09.00 to 20.00 every day except Monday. It’s right next door to the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the National Art Gallery, but I didn’t have time to go there as the museum took a couple of hours to get around. Like regional galleries and museums all around Italy they call themselves ‘national’ for some reason. In 2015 the museum cost €4, or you could get a joint ticket that takes in the gallery as well for €5.

The photos that follow are just of objects that caught my eye. They are just a few of the thousands of objects on display.

The exhibition begins in the Stone Age with a few Neolithic icons.




The star of the show however is the Nuraghic civilisation, so-called because of the stone Megaliths they built, called Nuraghe, which can be found all over Sardinia (there are 7000 in all).

The other remnant of this Bronze Age civilisation are the Bronzetti, small bronze figurines that depict people from different social classes and groups (mothers, hunters, warriors, chiefs) as well as animals, divinities, ships and everyday objects.

















About 500 of the figures have been found in total, mainly in Sardinia, but also at Etruscan sites on the mainland, in Campania and Lazio, as well as the Greek site of Crotone in Calabria.

On a larger scale, also from the same Nuraghic civilisation, are the Gigantis de Mont’e Prama, or Giants of Mont’e Prama; a group of tall stone statues possibly depicting heroes or gods.


There are also a lot of clay figures on display, some quite amusing and bizarre. This first one might be a baby feeding bottle, or perhaps an oil pourer. I was whizzing through so I can’t remember which civilisations they’re from sorry.












There are pieces from more far-flung civilisations, such as Egyptian…





… and even Indian.


Not sure where this interesting necklace is from.


Of course there are plenty of Roman finds. These I think were offerings thrown into a lake.





The Romans liked to have plenty of statues around…








… and to be buried in stone sarcophagi.





And finally a bit of Medieval.


This is one of the best museums I’ve been too in terms of the quality and number of finds on display. It gives you a good idea of the importance of Sardinia as an interface between the many cultures that have passed through the Mediterranean.


Cagliari – Quartiere Castello – walking around

Posted in Cagliari, Castello, Italy, Sardinia with tags , , on March 7, 2016 by gannet39

The most interesting area to walk around in Cagliari is the citadel, known as Quartiere Castello, or Su Casteddu in local parlance (also a name for the city as a whole), and by the tourist board as La Cittadella dei Musei.


As well as the fantastic views over the city, there are several attractions up here, including the Cathedral, Viceroyal Palace, Archaeology Museum, National Gallery and several other museums (please click on the names to see separate posts). =coming soon.


The citadel can be accessed from various points. From the Hotel Italia I walked up Largo Carlo Felice to Chiesa Santa Clara and took the lift behind the church up to the final level in front of Torre dell’ Elefante, one of the defensive towers built by the Pisans at the beginning of the 14th century.


Further to the north in the citadel is the Torre di San Pancrazio, built at the same time. For two or three euros you can climb the towers to get good views.


Built in local white limestone, the effect of the sun shining on the towers and other buildings caused D.H.Lawrence to describe Cagliari as a ‘white Jerusalem’.

Part of the fun is walking the long narrow streets which are kept cool by the high buildings that tower above them. Gateways and tunnels are everywhere.




The architecture is not particularly ornate but every now and then you come across a little gem.



The citadel also seems to be the bohemian and artistic quarter, perhaps because property is relatively cheap up here due to it’s inaccessibility.

After several hours of walking around, a pit stop was definitely in order. For that there’s no better place than Caffè delle Arti at 1 Via del Fossario, just down the road from the Cathedral. Google map here.

The terrace has commanding views out over the eastern side of the city and they sell great thirst-quenching craft beers from a local craft brewery called Barley based in Maracalagonis,  just outside Cagliari.



Their quality ales come in big chunky bottles. It’s the first time I’ve been served beer as if it was champagne!

I can vouch for their Duenna, an American Saison (6.5%, slightly bitter, gold coloured) and Tuvi Tuvi, a blond beer (6.2%, less bitter, more fruity, straw coloured).


The terrace would make a great place for a date. Definitely one of my hot tips 😉

Cagliari – walking around Quartiere Villanova

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, Sardinia with tags , on March 6, 2016 by gannet39

Quartiere Villanova is north of Quartiere Marina and below the eastern slopes of the citadel. Map here.


The area is famous for its brightly coloured houses which feature on many postcards.


In Piazza Constituzione is the Bastione di Saint Remy, built in 1901 on the defensive wall of the citadel. You can usually get into the citadel through it but it was closed for restoration when I was there in 2015.


At the top of the stairs is a covered promenade and a huge terrace with views over the city.

On the other side of the square at 10/11 Piazza Costituzione, to the east of the rampart, is the Antico Caffè, the oldest café in the city (since 1855) and a local cultural institution.


This was the literary hangout for writers such as D.H.Lawrence who was in town writing his book ‘Sea and Sardinia’.

It functions as a café and tea room in the day time and a bistro and wine and cocktail bar in the evenings. It’s also a celebrated patisserie and creperie. There’s an outdoor terrace and the food is okay according to Fodor’s guide.


I stopped in for a macchiato and a Pardule, and to see its attractive Liberty Stile interior.


Suitably fortified, it was now time for me to attack the citadel!

Cagliari – Quartiere San Benedetto – Mercato San Benedetto

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, San Benedetto, Sardinia with tags on March 5, 2016 by gannet39

Quartiere San Benedetto has a famous market called the Mercato San Benedetto which is the largest covered market in Italy and one of the biggest in Europe. There are 300 stalls in all.

I got up at 6am to go and have a look one morning. It’s open from 07.00 to 14.00 every day (except Sunday when it closes) so you have to arrive early to catch the action.


The fruit and veg is on the upper level.





Along with butchers…


… bakers…


and cheese mongers. I meant to ask them for Casu Marzu and Su Callu (see my Extreme Cheese post) but was too entranced by the market to remember.



And of course there are the lumache (snail) stalls.


I counted three varieties in all. The smallest are Tappadas (also called Monachelle).


Sizigorrus I think are also grey with a striped shell but larger.


Monzette are bigger and browner. Snails cover their cavity with a white membrane when they are in hibernation.


Sardinia is more famous for its land ingredients rather than fish but the whole of the lower level of the market is dedicated to seafood.













Another thing I forgot to ask for was bottarga, made in Sardinia with the dried roe of flathead mullet (as opposed to tuna in Sicily). It’s a local specialty that is served with bread or grated onto pasta.


When I got home to Sheffield I did manage to get some Sardinian Bottarga di Muggine (pictured above) from my friend’s deli for about £17.50 ($23) for 100g, which was much more expensive than in Cagliari I’m sure.

All the stall holders were happy to let me take photos when I asked. One chap even put me behind his stall so he could take a photo of me pretending to be a fishmonger! Unfortunately I think I made a better fishmonger than he did a photographer!


There was even a stall for sea anemones (anemoni di mare or orziadas) but the photo didn’t come out very well sorry.


I’ve only seen them being eaten deep-fried in Andalucia in Spain before. They do the same here apparently but also have them on pizza and with spaghetti and bottarga. I’ve never seen them on a restaurant menu though.

Cagliari – Quartiere San Benedetto – architecture around Piazza della Republica

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, Piazza della Republica, San Benedetto, Sardinia with tags on March 4, 2016 by gannet39

Quartiere San Benedetto is the more modern area to the east of Quartiere Marina. Some of the buildings around here date from the 1930s.

I especially love this art deco apartment block on the west side of Piazza Republica.


On the other side of Piazza Republica is the Palace of Justice, an intimidating neo-classical monster built during the fascist dictatorship.


This brutalist war memorial is a few streets away. I’m guessing it also dates from Mussolini’s time.

This impressive building with art nouveau statues is also nearby.


And this lovely flower-covered palm tree is on Via Mancini.


Cagliari – Quartiere Stampace

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, Sardinia, Stampace with tags , , on March 3, 2016 by gannet39

Quartiere Stampace is the neighbourhood to the northwest of Quartiere Marina. Largo Carlo Felice, the city’s central artery separates the two neighbourhoods.

There’s not much to see here that I know of, although I do quite like the Art Nouveau decoration on the Comune Di Cagliari building at the bottom of Largo Carlo Felice.



There don’t seem to be many eateries in the area, certainly in comparison to the more touristy Marina neighbourhood, although I did want to try Sa Domu Sarda at 51 Via Sassari which was recommended for traditional food by a colleague who had lived in Cagliari for many years. It’s just a few minutes from the Hotel Italia as you can see on my Google map.

I had a look around Chiesa di Nostra Signora del Carmine at 11 Viale Trieste.


It was destroyed in the war and rebuilt in a Pisan-Romanesque style in 1945. It has some nice mosaics which make a change from the norm.



More next time…

Cagliari – restaurants in Quartiere Marina

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, Marina, Sardinia with tags , , , on March 2, 2016 by gannet39

Quartiere Marina is the main area for tourists. Via Sardegna, which runs parallel to Via Roma on the waterfront, is it’s principal street where you’ll find most of the best restaurants. Happily the Hotel Italia where I was staying was also on this street.

The hotel is dingy. fading and some of the rooms are strange shapes (look at the floor plans on the landing walls and ask for a different one if you don’t like yours) but essentially okay (B) with decent internet, helpful staff and a rudimentary breakfast with coffee freshly made by a barista. It’s just a few minutes walk from the train and bus stations.

Ristorante Italia (Intermediate C+), 30 Via Sardegna

This place, immediately outside the entrance of the Hotel Italia, was recommended by the receptionist, although he was at pains to emphasise they were different businesses despite having similar names.

I loved their window display of seafood which looks like a scene from a cartoon!


I came here for lunch on my last day and had a mixed seafood grill (sea bass, swordfish, king prawn, squid) (B+) with…


…a basic but vibrant mixed salad (lettuce, radicchio, tomato) (B+) and…


…a half bottle or Vermentino ‘Costamolino’ by Argiolas (B). It came to €34 with bread and water.


It’s okay, a nice spot to sit outside and the food is decent. I’d definitely choose it over this place next door.

Ristorante Pizzeria Gobbetta (Intermediate C+), 23 Via Sardegna

The neighbour of the above, I came here on my first day when Ristorante Italia was closed. It’s a pizzeria as well as a restaurant and common wisdom has it that a place can be good at one thing but not the other.

Things got off to a bad start with the Burrida, a local speciality suggested by the waitress. In the Sardinian context (as opposed to Genoa and other places) it’s basically chunks of dogfish (a small shark called gattuccio di mare in Italian, never a favourite of mine) in vinegar (even worse) and is an unappetising murky brown in colour. I thought the crunchy bits were nuts at first but I quickly realised they were the vertebrae. I struggled manfully with it and finished most of it but I won’t be going back for seconds (C-).


To be fair, Burrida would probably taste the same wherever you went. I watched with amusement as Gino D’Acampo ate a mouthful of it at Ristorante Italia above in his 2016 ITV show ‘Gino’s Italian Escapes’ and even he couldn’t bring himself to say anything nice about it!

I wasn’t blown away by the Vermentino (Cala Reale 2014 from Alghero) the waitress offered up either as it was a bit too fruity for my tastes (B-). The best Vermentino comes from the Gallura DOCG around Gallura in the North so I made a mental note to specify it in the future.

Thankfully the pasta course saved the day; Fregola con Cozze, a small local pasta, here served in a kind of stock with the mussels (B).


Total cost €34. I’m sure they have better dishes but there are heaps of other places to go to so I don’t think I’ll be back. Or maybe they should just stick to pizza…

Trattoria La Lillicu (Intermediate B+), 78 Via Sardegna

Gleaned from the net and cross-referenced with two receptionists who both said it was the best place in town for seafood. It’s five minutes’ walk from the hotel, along the same street as both the restaurants above.

The owner is a bit of a tyrant by all accounts (on Trip Advisor) and certainly wasn’t particularly friendly with me when I tried to reserve a table outside, but my young waiter was a nice chap and got me what I wanted.

I had Spaghetti Arselle (A); pasta with a kind of clam that the waiter said was sweeter than Vongole and not as strong in flavour, although they look quite similar.


On the side was a bowl of grated Bottarga, Grey Mullet roe, which is sprinkled on pasta as a condiment. One of my regrets is not taking some of this home, especially as the chef told me via the waiter that it was available at a couple of the fish stalls at San Benedetto market.


To drink ‘Giogantinu’, a Vermentino from Gallura, which was great (B+).


For my main course, the waiter recommended the grilled Spigola (seabass), but it was a bit small and disappointing for €18 (B).

The dessert (B), a local Pecorino-filled fritter called Seadas or Sebadas (the pictures didn’t come out sorry), came with a complimentary flask of sweet dessert wine (B+).


With a couple of parting shots of frozen Mirto (myrtle berry liqueur, the national drink of Sardinia), by Mulino Novecento (B+), I rolled out of there a happy man. Total cost €40, not too bad for what I had in the end.


Ristorante Su Cumbidu (Intermediate B+), 13 Via Napoli,

If La Lillicu is the best for fish, then Su Cumbidu is the best place for meat, at least according to a local school owner, two receptionists, Fodor’s guide and the Daily Telegraph.

I came here three times in all and had a very different experience each time according to what I ordered, where I sat and who served me.

You can save yourself €3 by sitting inside with the locals rather than outside with the tourists where you will be hassled by hawkers and various buskers, including a god-awful violinist who seemed to follow me around just to torture me with the same badly played tune!

Try to sit at a table where you’ll be served by the older balding chap or the young enthusiastic English-speaking guy with glasses, as opposed to the tall, thin, gum-chewing bloke who couldn’t give a toss.

The thing to get here is the Su Porcheddu, (aka porchetta, aka maialetto arrosto, aka roast suckling pig) which is probably the most famous Sardinian speciality and done very well here. You can either get it by itself for €18, or go for one of their set menus where it comes with antipasti and/or a primo of pasta.

On the first visit I started with the classic northern Sardinian dish of Maloreddus alla Campidanese, a local pasta similar to gnocchetti in a sauce of sausage and tomato. The pasta was a bit overcooked but it still tasted great (B+).


Then the main event, the Su Porcheddu, which is traditionally wrapped in myrtle leaves and roasted underground. Here they just use a normal oven and no leaves, but it’s still very good (A).


It’s served on a flatbread called Pane Carasau (B) with a salad of whole raw vegetables like radishes, celery and tomatoes to cut the grease.


The best local red wine to have with this is Cannonau. The one I had was called ‘Murgia’ by Barralis (B+).


The second time I went I was trying to be healthy and ordered the extremely boring Fregola Sarda alla Verdure. It only scored a C+ even when helped with copious amounts of salt and grated pecorino.

My main of sausage with a side order of roast potatoes also failed to impress (no notes or photo), as did the half litre of house red (C+). As ever, you get what you pay for.

Not being one to give up, on my last night I treated myself to the €30 menu, which involved antipasti, pasta and the porcheddu again which I’d been craving.

The antipasti could have been a meal in itself. First a plate of prosciutto, salami, capocollo and a couple of cheeses served on Pane Carasau, alongside a platter of grilled veg (aubergine, red chicory, red peppers, carrots) and some olives (all B).


Then some separate bowls of more antipasti. Firstly Nervetti (veal cartlidge) which were ok (B-) but not as good as I’d had in Milan (see my Navigli post).


Other antipasti were meatballs in a very salty gravy (B-) and some Lumache, snails in a tomato sauce, which were very good (B+).


I wanted to try a different red so went with the waiter’s offer of ‘Stuni’ (Cantina Vigna de’ Luceri) made from a grape varietal called Monica which has it’s own DOC. It was good (B) but not as full bodied as Cannonau which better suited the suckling pig.


Then Curlugiones Salvia e Zafferano, another typical pasta dish of big raviolis filled with sheep’s cheese in a tomato sauce with sage and saffron (B+).


Then the Maialetto Arrosto (Su Porcheddu) I’d been craving (A), again with flatbread and a salad.

I was also hankering after some cheese so had the unphotogenic grilled Pecorino Arrosto for dessert (B).

With a couple of shots of Mirto the total cost came to €54 which wasn’t too bad for the huge amount of food I was given.

So lots of great food to be had, if you choose carefully. Wish I’d had more time to check out some of the other places on my Google map.

Cagliari – walking around Quartiere Marina

Posted in Cagliari, Italy, Marina, Sardinia with tags , , on March 1, 2016 by gannet39

I’ve broken my Cagliari posts down to make them more readable. Please see my separate posts on eating in the Marina area and for other neighbourhoods. My Google map of the city is here.

For some, Cagliari is a little disappointing in terms of things to see given its ancient history, although personally I quite enjoyed walking around the citadel (see Castello posts).

Quartiere Marina is one of the oldest districts and there are a few gems here too if you look for them.

I particularly like the sad angels above the doorway of the Chiesa de Sant’ Agostino at 80 Via Lodovico Baylle.


These cherub-like angels (or are they ‘putti’?) seem to be a popular theme.


Cappella dell’Asilo della Marina next door also has some nice ones.


Most of the streets on the lower slopes of the Marina district are organised on a more modern grid pattern although higher up towards the citadel the roads become steeper and a bit more maze like.


Chiesa di Santa Rosalia is built into the gradient of Via Principe Amedeo.

Chiesa Santa Rosalia

On one of these higher streets, at 2 Vico del Collegio, is the Museo del Tesoro e Area Archeologica di Sant’Eulalia.

The museum is an archaeological site in the basement of the Sant’Eulalia church. Metal catwalks above the site allow you to walk around and gaze down at the various phases.


‘Karalis’, the first name for Cagliari, was established by the Phonecians around the 8th and 7th centuries BC and the Carthaginians built a fortified settlement in the Marina area in the 5th century BC.

Under the church remains can be seen of a 4th to 3rd century BC Punic shrine, a pre 5th century BC water cistern, a 4th century AD road with houses and a well, a possibly 6th century AD Roman-era wall and then the 14th century AD Catalan-Aragonese church (St. Eulalia was the patron saint of Barcelona).


Under the road was a sewage conduit and storm drain, which was accessed for maintenance via this manhole.


Apparently more subterranean passages were discovered down here.


At some point the drain was blocked by mud from a storm. The everyday objects carried by the storm flood were locked in the mud creating a fascinating snapshot in time. The objects date from the late 7th century AD which was the last time the drain was in operation.

Similarly coins found in the cistern date it to having been in use up until the 5th century BC. I had the pleasure of excavating a well in my teens (my dad is an archaeologist) and found it fascinating to discover all the junk that had piled up in it during the years it was in use.


Since my pop will probably be reading this I should perhaps issue a disclaimer that the photos don’t necessarily represent what I’m writing about!


Quartiere Marina is also known as the shopping district, especially along Via Roma on the waterfront. However wandering around the back streets I stumbled upon Durke, an old shop selling Sardinian cakes at 66 Via Napoli,


The lady working there was very friendly and allowed me to sample some of her wares including the famous Pardule,  a special cake made with ricotta for Lent.


Her beautifully-wrapped amaretti were very nice too.


This publicity shot shows her working in the shop with her mum and sister and their two-hundred-year-old oven in the background.


To be honest though, some Sardinian cakes seem to be more about form than function. I wasn’t too impressed by these traditional Tilicas (the squiggly ones) made with almond paste and honey, which were given to me at a school I worked at. They looked lovely but were quite dry and hard when eaten.


Similarly the local bread can be quite pretty to look at but has more crust than soft parts.


Other than this, there are a few modern sculptures dotted around, like this one in Via Dettori.


At the end of Via Sardegna you come to the incongruous Consiglio Regionale della Sardegna (Regional Council of Sardinia) which has some modernist sculptures beside it, such as ‘Figura Maschile’ (Male Figure) dating from 1987.


In nearby Piazza Giovanni Amendola there are some nice Jacaranda trees, which reminded me of Buenos Aires.


Restaurants next!

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