City of light and wide skies; long lunches and longer siestas; of days on the beach, surfing and sailing. Then after all that sunlight and laughter what, as the song asks, ‘comes after?! Why!’ Cagliari's kaleidoscopic nightlife. This is an exciting place to live, and an awesome one to visit.
A generation ago hardly anyone came to Cagliari unless they had to. Now they're queuing up - cruise liners jostle each other to be let into port; jumbo jets stack up across the arc of blue above the gulf of Angels: the railway and bus stations pullulate; taxi drivers need to change their cars every two months. For though hoteliers and other beneficiaries of the tourist trade seem, like farmers, to enjoy being pessimistic, the numbers of visitors edge up year by year. At the same time, Cagliari's facilities and services are able to more than match this growing demand.
What of course hasn't - and couldn't have! - changed are Cagliari's basic characteristics: its climate, geographical position and population. Reflected off the sparkling (and clean) waters of the town beach, Poetto, or sliding with the passing hours over the vistas of stone and terracotta of the old town, southern Sardinian sunlight caresses land and sea alike. Seldom too hot to be unbearable, seldom absent long enough to reach for a second scarf.
The same sunlight magically enhances and nuances colour. Stuccoed façades deep orange at breakfast time fade at noon to pale beige then glow again, now though like a ripe apricot, while the shadows lengthen as the sun dips behind the mountains of Capoterra across the bay. Roofscapes too form, dissolve, re-form: pink to tawny, to parched eggshell grey, to plum red, to burnt umber.
Not a city of parks or fountains - not, as I once fondly imagined, a sort of Granada-by-the-sea - Cagliari is at last taking good care of its gardens and the four of five tree-lined thoroughfares which traverse and encircle the older parts of the city.