What to see in Cagliari and surroundings
In addition to the buildings and monuments of the historic center , Cagliari offers numerous archaeological sites and unspoiled natural environments that lend themselves well to suggestive itineraries between culture and nature.
Areas of archaeological interest
It is one of the largest and most important in the Mediterranean , for typological variety and for the good state of conservation of the tombs (over 1100 between Punic and Roman). In particular, two late Punic tombs are of exceptional importance, both painted (IV-III century AD), the so-called Tomba Del Sid , whose name derives from the representation of a male character, with helmet and spear, identified as the Phoenician warrior god -punico Sid, and the Tomb of the Ureus , which contains a frieze depicting a winged ureus, a snake with a solar disc, typically Phoenician.
Built in the second century. d. C., is the most important testimony of Roman Cagliari , as well as the most important monument of the classical age existing in Sardinia. The amphitheater, located on the slopes of the Buon Cammino hill, was partly dug into the rock and partly built using limestone blocks extracted from nearby quarries. The whole monument was covered with precious materials, as shown by the large quantity of thin marble slabs found in the excavations.
The amphitheater, which could hold up to 10,000 spectators, retains most of the elliptical steps , the cavea, the fences and the basements. The shows that took place there were various: gladiator fights, pantomimes, but also executions of death sentences.
Over the centuries, the amphitheater has unfortunately been subject to a long and inexorable plunder that lasted until the mid-nineteenth century, and of the imposing elliptical monument only the part carved into the rock survives today, while the masonry parts and coatings do not remain. no trace. Even today the amphitheater, partly covered by a wooden structure, hosts concerts and shows during the summer season.
Villa of Tigellio
The complex, known by the name of Villa di Tigellio because it was originally attributed to the rich and extravagant Roman cantor, actually includes the remains of an elegant Roman residential district of the Middle Imperial age (II-III century AD). In the area you can see the remains of a thermal structure , of which remains of the floor of the calidarium, the room for water or steam baths, and of three stately homes are preserved.
Two of these are called Casa del Tablino painted (the tablinum was a sort of study belonging to the landlord), in which remains of mosaic flooring were found, and Casa degli Stucchi so called from the remains of the wall decorations; almost nothing remains of the third house.
Cave of the Viper
Built between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. C., the so-called Grotta della Vipera is actually a tomb carved into the rock , which is located in the necropolis of Sant'Avendrace. The entrance to the tomb reproduces the facade of a temple with columns: it is named for the presence of two crossed snakes, a symbol of marital fidelity, carved on the sides of the pediment. The monument was dedicated by the Roman Lucio Cassio Filippo to his wife Atilia Pomptilla, to remember the memory and love shown to him.
On the walls there are some inscriptions, twelve poems in Greek and Latin that exalt the figure of Atilia and her conjugal love: the legend says that Atilia had prayed to the gods to take her life in exchange for that of her husband, who was seriously ill. ; the gods, pitying, satisfied her, and Philip was able to continue living thanks to the extreme sacrifice of his wife.
The ruins of the city of Nora , one of the oldest cities of the island, include the thermal baths , the Phoenician temple , the Roman theater , the paved forum, the sewer pipe, the houses. On the small promontory there is the sanctuary of the salutary deities, of Punic origin.
Areas of natural interest
Santa Gilla Lagoon
Along the western arch of the gulf, immediately outside Cagliari, is the Santa Gilla lagoon , about 4,000 hectares of water that bar the expansion of the city which for centuries has been home to migratory and nesting species such as the cormorant, the coot, the avocet, the chicken sultan, the knight of Italy. But the most extraordinary presence is constituted by a colony of pink flamingos .
With its 500 hectares of surface, the Molentargius pond is still used for the extraction of salt. Taking a long and slow path from the external basins to the central one, separated from each other by special gate valves, the sea water crosses the Is Arenas channel, entering the Quartu basins, where the evaporation process ends.
The Phoenicians already exploited this area for salt, followed first by the Spaniards and then by the Piedmontese. Precisely this activity has given the name Molentargius from su molenti , the Sardinian donkey on which sacks of salt were loaded or who dragged boats from the ground into the canals. However, the interest of the pond is not limited to its economic possibilities: the area is home to an extraordinary ornithological heritage , about 200 different species of birds.
Monte Urpinu Park
The Monte Urpinu Park is the green lung of the city of Cagliari, from the top of which you can enjoy splendid panoramic views over the city, the ponds and salt marshes, the seafront and the port.
It takes its name from the fox, which reigned supreme when the Monte was still an inaccessible and abandoned area: as soon as the park was built it was called Monte Volpino, then transformed into Urpinu from the Sardinian name of the fox in the local dialect. At the entrance of the park it was set up a children's playground, and penetrating inside, between streams and ponds, there are natural trails suitable for hiking and walking trails in the tiles, more suitable for walking.
The Cagliari Botanical Garden looks like a small green oasis in the heart of the city . Inaugurated in 1866 by Patrizio Gennari, the Botanical Garden is located in the historic center, precisely in the Palabanda valley, a limestone area of 5 hectares between the Roman amphitheater and the villa of Tigellio; this area was chosen for its favorable climatic characteristics, as it is protected from the prevailing winds, in particular from the mistral.
In addition to the arboreal and shrub species typical of Mediterranean environments (different types of oak, pine, mastic, heather, juniper), the richness of tropical and subtropical species is striking, over 500 families, which thanks to the favorable climate have now reached considerable dimensions: yes they can find plants coming from the Indies, Africa and Madagascar, southern America, Arabia, China, Japan, Australia and the islands of Oceania. In particular, one can observe the largest specimen in Europe of Canary Euphorbia (Euphorbia canariensis L.), and a Fig (Ficus magno) with exceptional columnar roots.
In the area, didactic areas have been created equipped with panels that describe the environments or individual specimens of particular importance; recently built is the area of medicinal plants , which preserves over 150 species of medicinal plants divided according to the permitted therapeutic use, and those of useful plants (textiles, dyes and food). On the whole surface of the Botanical Garden there are also numerous testimonies of the Roman era of particular interest: there are a system of cisterns , a clover-shaped tank, a Calidarium (Gennari cave) and a Libarium, where the ancient actors used to quench their thirst. Romans who acted in the nearby amphitheater.
It is the main beach in Cagliari , as well as the liveliest on the island. It extends for about eight kilometers, from the Sella del Diavolo to the coast of Quartu Sant'Elena. Poetto is one of the most beautiful city beaches in the Mediterranean ; a very long coastline of 7km dominated by the Sella del Diavolo promontory.
The Poetto coast has become the most popular beach for Cagliari in every season of the year. In fact, during the winter it is the ideal place to spend the lunch hour tasting sea urchins, in the summer it is populated by bathers and numerous night-goers at the characteristic kiosks that offer drinks and live music.