Tonight, my feet have brought me to the streets of Cagliari on Sardinia’s southern coast. Cagliari, a port city founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century B.C., remains the island’s capital, filled with a mixture of modern and ancient architectures. The city lies in the middle of the Golfo degli Angeli, in other words, the Gulf of the Angels. The heavenly aspect to Cagliari at first glance may seem hard to find with run-down buildings and moderately sketchy accommodations, but the angelic quality to Cagliari seems to be perched a flight of stairs above the town in the Castello neighborhood.
As I wander the streets of Cagliari in search of pizza, I use my nose to sniff out a hole in the wall pizzeria. Prices on this menu for an entire pizza run around 3 Euros. I am beginning to like Sardinia. With a Pizza Diavola and Sardinian beer in hand, I begin searching for that spot to enjoy dinner. I reach the old town, filled with restaurants and shops still alive at 10PM. I notice a set of twin staircases meeting up to a telling archway. This is where I will go.
I climb to the top of these steps only to find an expansive space with a view of the Cagliari port and coastline. A few overly affectionate Italian couples sit on benches in the park area, gushing over one another. I guess I will just cuddle up with my pizza and beer on a nearby bench.
Little do I know, but I have just stumbled upon the Castello neighborhood of Cagliari, a quarter dating back to the Middle Ages. The area sits on the upper side of the city, inside a casing of high ruined walls. These medieval protectors stand tonight to watch over me as I explore Castello. An open park of planted palm trees, benches and worn buildings surround as the golden lights of Cagliari serve as my lantern to see what I am eating. My stomach begins to fill. It is time to move.
I head deeper into this mystic quarter, meandering down silent and secluded side streets until I reach a truly impressive site. The Cathedral of Cagliari rests here in Piazza Palazzo. Dedicated to Saint Mary, the Cathedral was designed by the Pisans in the 13th century. The Pisan influence can clearly be seen, mirroring the churches found in Lucca and Pisa. The structure radiates soft white light, contrasted by the jet-black night sky.
On the steps of the Cathedral, my knees bend and I sit, ready to rest my aching feet. I pause for a few moments, trying to grasp how different and surreal this neighborhood seems, in particular, at night. I have found the Castello quarter by chance. Well, maybe it was meant to be.
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