Discover local culture and history of Sardinia

The culture and history of South Sardinia is present everywhere! You can decide to visit the archeological site of Nora or the Cathedral of Cagliari, admire the beautiful costumes worn at festivities or learn about the antique rites of the island!

NORA, THE SUNKEN CITY

While in South Sardinia, we strongly recommend a visit to the well-kept town of Pula. Here you will find everything you need for your daily needs, including a selection of good restaurants, lively cafes and many shops which are open all year round.

Take a seat at one of the little cafes around the “Piazza” (main square) and enjoy a perfect cappuccino with Italian pastries or a refreshing Sardinian sparkling wine to tickle the appetite. The lively square is quite sunny and particularly enjoyable in the cooler months. During the summer, there is plenty of entertainment here for locals and visitors alike!

If you are passionate about history then you probably shouldn’t miss a visit to the archaeological site of Nora, where Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans left imposing traces. Dominated by the Spanish Tower, Nora is located on the beautiful sea front, just outside the town of Pula (follow the signs). The atmosphere is fabulous in the late afternoon.

Nearby on the beach, you will see the cute little church of St. Efisio, which plays a predominant role on May 1st, during one of the most important celebrations of South Sardinia. www.coptur.net/site-nora.html

THE SECRETS OF CAGLIARI

Discovering Cagliari on your own, might be a bit daunting. But if you are interested in learning about the insights of the small narrow streets of the capital, where each house has its own story to tell … that sounds really fascinating!

You will visit Castello, the district that dominates the city from above. Walking through the streets of Castello you can sense the history of the most authentic Cagliari, between the present and the past; the ancient palaces and hidden churches where the narrow streets have changed little since medieval times. You should not miss the magnificent Cathedral, the Royal Palace, the panoramic terraces of the ramparts of Saint-Rémy and Santa Croce, which in the summer nights are also the nightlife centre. Guided tours can be booked at www.sardeo.com/en/hiking-in-sardinia/urban-trekking/

SAN BENEDETTO MARKET, CAGLIARI

Sardinia has so many local products to offer – you have to see them all!

Markets are excellent places to absorb a little of the local culture and its traditions. We would like to invite you to visit the central market of Cagliari, one of the biggest fresh produce markets in Europe: the Mercato San Benedetto.

The market spreads over two floors and even onto the nearby streets, and really has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. The vendors are extremely friendly and welcoming while offering a once in a lifetime experience.

The ground floor is almost entirely dedicated to fish. In the buzzing atmosphere you will be amazed by the sheer abundance and wide selection of fish and seafood available here. Feeling hungry in the middle of all this? Take a paper cone with freshly fried seafood – a cheap and very tasty snack! On the first floor there is a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, meat and other local products. Enjoy the smells and the colours of real fresh food! Be curious and perhaps taste something you never tried before – just enjoy the real Sardinia.

The market San Benedetto is located in Via Cocco Ortu in Cagliari and is open every morning from Monday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm. To avoid the crowds, it’s better to plan your visit between Tuesday and Friday. Parking available in Via Santa Alenixedda or Via Manzoni.

SAN MICHELE CASTLE

San Michele Castle is located on one of the highest hills of Cagliari, from where the best 360 degrees view of the city and the coast can be enjoyed. The main structure is from the Byzantine Period or first “Giudicale” Period (tenth century AD) which purpose was to defend Santa Igia, the capital of the “Giudicato” of Cagliari.

During the black plague the Castle was used as a hospital and after that, it ended up suffering a long period of decadence. In 1895, a private owner bought the castle and committed to restore the building and plant a pine forest, which is still present today. In the thirties the hill and the castle became a military domain. Today, following the major restoration works of 1990, the San Michele Caste offers a space for exhibitions, lectures and cultural events. The park is huge, the view fantastic! It’s a great location to relax after a tiring city tour. Entrance: 3€

WINE TASTING – CANTINA MESA

The wine-making tradition in Sardinia has an ancient past: it is thought to date back even to the Nuraghic period. Then, over the years, it has developed quite substantially, to the point that now the wine industry represents one of the most important sectors of Sardinia.

The harvest of the grapes takes place in September and is the culmination of a hard job: the last effort before testing the produce. We recommend a visit to the beautiful and stylish winery Cantina Mesa. The estate comprises 70 hectares in the heart of Sulcis Iglesiente, near Sant’Anna Arresi, and is surrounded by the sea. Their production focuses on Carignano del Sulcis, Vermentino di Sardegna and Cannonau di Sardegna grape varieties, along with Chardonnay and Syrah. The winery proposes tastings and retail sales. A great opportunity to bring back home a taste of Sardinia! www.cantinamesa.it

EXCURSION TO SAN PIETRO ISLAND

The island of San Pietro is connected to Sardinia by a bridge, hence no need to take a boat or study time schedules. Once on the island, I recommend making a stop in the charming village of Calasetta, which has preserves its typical and unchanged traits of its Genoan and Tarbarchin (Tunesia) origins. Have a stroll in the picturesque narrow streets and admire the sea from one of the cafés on the harbour front.

Calasetta is very famous for its distinctive tower, which was built around 1737. The tower was erected by the Savoy authorities to defend the channel between Sant’Antioco and the Island of San Pietro from the Saracen vessels. The Calasetta area has numerous beaches of amazing beauty. The coast is steep and rocky to the West and low and sandy to the North-East. If you choose to spend the afternoon around Calasetta, you have the choice of several marvellous beaches such as “Spiaggiagrande”, “Porto Maggiore”, the “Salina” and “Sottotorre”.

The rocky rampart to the West is of unrivalled beauty stretching to a depth of up to 10 m and contributing to the creation of striking caves and stack formations of rocks. Have a look at one of the most beautiful places carved by the sea: the “Nido dei Passeri” (sparrows’ nest), a rocky formation which serves as a refuge to many local birds and perhaps admire the “Mangiabarche” lighthouse (Boat Eater), one of the most evocative beacon of South Sardinia.

VISIT BARUMINI (UNESCO)

If you are staying in South Sardinia, you should not miss a visit to Barumini, just a 1.5 hour drive from Chia. Barumini features one of the most important archaeological sites of the island (UNESCO heritage) where you can see the remains of the largest nuragic settlement dating from about 1600 BC! The entrance fee includes the visit to the museum and the cultural centre.

For lunch we strongly recommend the Hotel Restaurant Su Nuraxi, which is just a few hundred meters further from the historical site. They propose authentic Sardinian food, cooked with the heart and served with the soul. Make your choice from the menu or just ask the friendly owner Carla, who will be happy to suggest the dish of the day. They also have a great choice of appetizers (antipasti) including local cheese and ham, as well as home-made pickled vegetables. www.fondazionebarumini.it/en