Discovering Italy’s Hidden Gem

October 9, 2018

At the start of the summer, I visited Cagliari in Sardinia with my good friend Emily, as a sort of pre-hen do holiday as she’s currently travelling with her husband and I won’t see her until my wedding day, which is quite a surreal feeling. We’d been away together a few times before from a girl’s trip to Ibiza, to New York with school and a group trip to Bulgaria, but we had never been away just to the two of us in our 17 years of friendship!

We knew we wanted to trip to be about making memories, reminiscing on the ones from the past and drinking and eating our way around a new place. We ummed and ahhed about where to go for a while – we wanted somewhere hot, that had a beach we could chill on, but also somewhere we could do a walking tour of and that was quite cheap to get to. We went back and forth for a while trying to find the perfect place, until one day, whilst I was at work, Emily suggested Sardinia.

The only thing I knew about Sardinia was that it was an island off Italy, and was known for being quite expensive, but when we looked into it and saw that we could fly to the capital city of Cagliari for less than £60 at the start of July, I was converted – plus, Italy is one of my favourite countries in the world, so any excuse to go back and I’m there. We found a hotel which was £70 each for three nights, right in the centre and started planning what we wanted to do during our time there.

We flew into Cagliari on a Sunday afternoon and landed about 8pm. By the time we were through passport control, we jumped into our taxi which the hotel had provided for and drove to our little apartment. We dropped our stuff off and decided to go for a wander to see what was around us. Even though it was nighttime, all the shops were open and the bars were really busy which gave the city a real buzz of excitement. We had a quick drink and headed to bed to be up early the next day.

Day 1

We were lucky that our hotel included breakfast, so we had a chilled morning getting ready and having a bit of food. One of the things I love doing when abroad is a walking tour of the city as early into the trip as possible in order to learn something about the place as well as getting my bearings. I’d found this tour online, which met in one of the main squares at 10am and lasted two hours. During that time, the guide took us all around the city and up into the walled parts and we learnt about the Spanish rule and what they used to do to intruders before ending the tour in a food market.

After walking around for a couple of hours, we had really worked up an appetite and went for some lunch down at Bria which was down one of the side streets, opposite the harbour and had a glass of wine with our pizzas. We decided to see how easy it would be to get the bus to the nearby Sotto beach, and headed to the station. The one thing I found with Cagliari was how little people spoke English, which is quite ignorant of me, but after a few minutes talking to one of the bus drivers, we realised it wouldn’t be too hard to find and headed off to get our swimming stuff.

The drive to the beach went past flamingo island, which was quite a sight and something you wouldn’t expect just outside of a capital city. We arrived at the beach about 20 minutes later and plotted up before spending the afternoon soaking up the rays. After a few hours, we realised it was time for Aperitif (one of my favourite things about Italy) and we headed off to one of the bars for an Aperol Spritz.

After we got back to the hotel, we searched for restaurants to go to and settled on L’Oca Bianca, which specialised in seafood pasta, which we decided to share with some bread and oil. The food here was amazing, but we had enough room left for some drinks afterwards, and headed to a bar called Moonshine for some cocktails.

Day 2

We’d seen an all-day boat trip advertised in our hotel and thought it would be a great way to spend the day and to see more of the island. We met a group at the bus station, and they drove us an hour to another port on the south coast of the island. The trip itself was about €55, but all of the food and drink was included.

We set sail for about an hour and a half and came to a beautiful beach on a cove, where the boat anchored. A few people were taken to the sand, but we decided to stay on the boat and chill in the sunshine. We were there for about 2 hours and it was lovely to just lay there and relax and jump into the crystal blue sea. After we set sail again, they served us a lunch of pasta, bread, fish and chips, and they weren’t stingy on the portion sizes at all.

We sailed again and at the next beach, we took the speedboat and stayed on the shore for a couple of hours and chilled in the sunshine. The sea was a really nice temperature too. For the final part of the trip, the started to play music, and there was a real party atmosphere for the last hour.

When we got back to Cagliari, we decided it was the right time for a gelato and went to a little shop on the same road as the apartment – if there was only one thing the Italian’s do right (which isn’t true at all) it would be gelato!

We walked through Piazza Yenne for a drink and headed to the Spanish restaurant 100 Montaditos for pinchos before heading for pizza at Framento, which had been recommended to us as the best pizzas in Cagliari – and they weren’t wrong. We shared a cheese platter to share and a bianco pizza with onion salt; not something I’d had before, but delicious.

We went back to some of the cocktail bars in Piazza Yenne, which were incredibly busy, even though it was a Tuesday night, and the atmosphere was electric. As it was our final night, we stayed out for a couple before heading off to the apartment.

Day 3

Our last morning was spent by having breakfast in the hotel before walking up to the old walled town for a coffee and taking in the final views from the top, and the gorgeous sunshine. Looking over Cagliari from the hill was a memory I’ll always remember as it really was stunning.

We strolled down another way that we hadn’t been before, and back to the hotel before heading off to the airport. Although we were only there for 3 days, I feel like we did everything we wanted to, but if we had stayed longer, I would have liked to explore more of the island.

There is something about that city that is so different to the rest of Italy that I’ve visited – it’s a bit more run down in places and slightly more urban, but it had an undeniable charm which I really loved.

One of the things I loved about Cagliari was how cheap it was – what can I say, where I can save money and go away more often, I will: The flights we booked about 2 months in advance and got them at a really good price, and the hotel too. The food and drink were all much more reasonable than mainland Italy, making it a destination I would highly recommend for an alternative break – it only takes less than 3 hours to get there too.

The only struggle we had was that not a lot of people spoke perfect English, but we easily got by, and the locals were so lovely. The public transport system may seem complicated as well to start with but it’s really simple once you get the hang of it and it’s a much cheaper alternative. The train to and from the airport only cost €1.60 and the bus was less than €1.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about discovering other parts of Italy that you ordinarily might not have thought about, and inspired you to visit the beautiful island of Sardinia.

Have you been to Sardinia? What did you think?

6 responses to “Discovering Italy’s Hidden Gem”

  1. Lacey says:

    Wow, this place looks amazing! I had never been fussed about visiting anywhere in/around Italy until I went to a wedding over summer and now I’m in love! I definitely need to add this to my list for when I return. I can’t believe how cheap the boat was!

    • ellie says:

      It’s just such a stunning place! I would LOVE to go to a wedding over there! I remember seeing your pics and thinking I need to get to the Lakes immediately! xxx

  2. Faye Bradley says:

    Wow those flights were a bargain ! Sounds like a good trip o bet your glad you snapped up the opportunity and mmmm I bet the seasfood was so fresh 😍

  3. Rachel says:

    I’m absolutely loving the sound of this place and the pictures are gorgeous! I’m so jealous of all the trips you go on, they look beautiful xx

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