We spent our last three days in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. It’s a large city, for the island, with about 150,000 people living in the city, but almost 500,000, when you count the surrounding area. For such a large city, we found Cagliari quite pleasant, clean and tranquil.
The Old Quarter
We returned our rental car to the small airport outside of town. It was easy to find the rental car area, which has all of the companies together in one building right next to the terminal. We decided to spring for a taxi since our B&B was located in the old part of town, up on a hill. We were glad we made that decision because the historical center had very steep and narrow cobblestoned streets that would not have been great for the wheels of my luggage.
We enjoyed walking around the town, visiting churches, ruins and museums. Even the shopping was easy and plentiful here. There were several pedestrian friendly streets with all the big names in Italian shopping along with many small, local boutiques. You didn’t have to walk far without a snack or refreshment. There were plenty of bars, tea rooms and excellent gelaterias. The main downtown area was full of good restaurants with outdoor and indoor seating. Luckily for us, the weather had improved and everyone was eating and drinking alfresco our final week in Sardinia.
The Beach near Cagliari
The transportation in Cagliari is modern and efficient. We bought an all day bus pass for 3 euros each to hop around the town. Most of the busses start down near the port and train station, and they ran about fifteen minutes apart. At the bus stops, they had digital signs that announced the arrival times of the current busses.
We used the handy transportation map to explore some outer neighborhoods. One day, we went to their local beach, which stretches for miles. You can walk on the sand or use the bike/pedestrian path. On the sunny day we went, there were lots of joggers, cyclists and walkers like us.
The Salt Marsh
Across the street from the beach, there’s a huge salt marsh that is home to pink flamingos, herons, egrets and other shore birds. It took a while to find the path that took us into the reserve, but we finally found the flamingos. However, we didn’t get very close because the flamingos were smart enough to keep their distance from us tourists. Yet, it was wonderful to see so many of them enjoying their beautiful refuge. We used the bus several times to see the outskirts of the city. Each time, the bus driver was kind and courteous, and we were given good directions for our final destinations.
A School Day Lunch Break
There doesn’t seem to be as much rushing around in this city. For instance, whenever we entered a pedestrian walk to cross the street, the cars stopped, much like the state of Washington. In other parts of Italy, the drivers will stop once you enter the street and you are inches from their car. But here, they stop when they see that you are about to enter the crosswalk. It made walking around just a bit more pleasant.
Even in the big city of Cagliari, the streets are quite clean and people don’t litter much. We also saw people picking up after their dogs and we didn’t have to watch out for their remains on the sidewalks. There are plenty of city bins for trash and they have a good system for recycling. Before we came to Sardinia, we thought that the island would be more backward, or behind the times, for some reason. However, we’ve found just the opposite. This beautiful island, with it’s amazing natural beauty, seems to have figured it out—even in the big city.