Cagliari, the main economic, cultural and political centre of Sardinia, is situated in the middle of the Gulf of the Angels (Golfo degli Angeli) and spread out over seven hills (Sant'Elia, Bonaria, Monte Urpinu, Castello, Monte Claro, Tuvixeddu and San Michele).
This is how Cagliari was described by the great English novelist D.H. Lawrence in the Nineteenth century:
"Slowly, slowly we creep along the formless shore. An hour passes. We see a little fort ahead done in enormous black-and-white checks, like a fragment of a gigantic chessboard. It stands at the end of a long spit of land - a long barish peninsular that has no houses and looks as if it might be golf links. But it is not golf links.
And suddenly there is Cagliari: a naked town rising steep, steep, golden looking, piled naked to the sky from the plain at the head of a formless hollow bay. It is strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy. The city piles up lofty and almost miniature, and makes me think of Jerusalem: without trees, without cover, rising rather bare and proud, remote as if back in history, like a town in a monkish, illuminated missal.
One wonders how it ever got there. And it seems like Spain or Malta: not Italy. It is a steep and lonely city, as in some old illumination. Yet withal rather jewel-like: like a sudden rose-cut amber jewel naked at the depth of the vast indenture.
The air is cold, blowing bleak and bitter, the sky is all curd. And that is Cagliari. It has that curious look, as if it could be seen but not entered. It is like some vision, some memory, something that has passed away."
(D.H. Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia - 1921)
Cagliari has Phoenician-Punic origins and today still conserves important Roman ruins such as the Amphitheatre, the Viper's cave and Tigellio's villa. During the first centuries of the last millennium, the town was invaded by the Spanish and the Pisans. Proof of their influence can be seen in the two Pisan towers built in the 1300's together with the massive city walls that mark and look over the oldest part of the town Castello. In the Castello neighbourhood, you'll find the Cathedral, built in the same period as the towers (in 1254).
Thanks to its harbour, over time Cagliari has been Sardinia's entry, and therefore meeting point, of different cultures.
Cagliari is a town of many traditions. Still today there are numerous popular events. Among the most important is the S. Efisio festival. For the last 400 years, it has gathered thousands of believers in a procession behind this Saint and town's protector. Another important event is "Sa Die de sa Sardigna" (Sardinia Day) that recalls the people's insurrection ending with the expulsion of the Piedmonts from the island the 28th of April, 1794.
Today, Cagliari is an important point for sporting events such as the motor boating, Formula One and Grand Prix race-car driving as well as the Women's beach volleyball World Championship. The latter takes place on the Poetto Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia and preferred destination for summer holidays for tourists and Cagliaritani alike.
To sum up: Cagliari, a live city 365 days of the year!