Cagliari

Cagliari

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Punctilious pruning and pollarding have become regular municipal activities. But green areas they are. A ramble around the Botanical Gardens, in viale Sant'Ignazio da Laconi, just below the Roman Amphitheatre, is an educative as well as relaxing way to spend a couple of slow hours. Or in the early evening, after showering and changing, you could promenade along the well laid paths of the Public Gardens (Giardini Pubblici, at the top of viale Regina Elena), before strolling down on your way to an aperitif and dinner. If, however, you fancy a more adventurous walk, then go to Monte Urpinu, several acres of carefully tended pine woods (between via Scano and viale Europa). Here, despite its walkways, two artificial lakes and clipped hedges, one could, especially in its remoter upper reaches, really be several miles instead of half a one from so-called civilization. Nature mightn't exactly impinge on Cagliari; it does now at least have a place amongst the town's hectares of bricks and cement.
For many of course, inhabitants as well as visitors, Cagliari suggests the seaside. Beaches not streets; swimming not walking; bikinis and flip-flops, salt-stiff towels drying on the hotel balcony after a day of sun cream and water sports. And if this is what you principally want from a holiday, Cagliari is your Mecca. The five sandy miles of the broad, gently-sloping Poetto beach (15 minutes by bus from via Roma) with its quiet waves, jolly bars and reasonably priced lidos and bathing establishments is the obvious choice. At the town end of Poetto, and well worth a visit, is the pretty boating marina - all sparkling water, wheeling gulls, bobbing yachts and dinghies, a tiny enclave of fishing smacks: the haunting yet wholesome tickity-tackity of rigging dancing and flickering in the soft wind and glancing sunlight.
Another beach that one can easily reach from the landside is Calamosca (plus several coves and inlets, like Cala Fighera, in the lea of the Sella del Diavolo, you need a boat to visit or else a somewhat risky walk up and down the cliffs), very much a locals' bathing spot, and beautifully sheltered when the mistral wind is blowing hard. Coastal Cagliari, as can be noted whether one arrives by air or sea, also means rocky shorelines, soaring cliffs and deserted headlands, especially the area which sweeps down from the Capo Sant'Elia lighthouse to the borgo of the same name. This district - with a startling 1960s church, opened by Pope Paul VI, and the former Lazzaretto hospital, now providing space for art exhibitions and theatre - is also host to a rumbustious Sunday morning food and flea market.

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