Over the past several months, I’ve quickly adopted a new motto, a handy two-word Italian phrase that fits almost any situation.
“Should I get seconds on dessert?”
“Should we see if this door opens?”
“Should I go walk around the city instead of working on homework?”
Perché no literally translates to “why not,” but it’s become more than that. It’s the kind of attitude that I’ve adopt through the kind of adventures that come while living in a foreign country. In fact, Perché no is a pretty good way to describe how I ended up going to Sardinia in the first place.
Back in January, Julia and I sat down and started to map out where we wanted to go during the semester. Venice was a must. Bologna and Arezzo were also added since they were close and convenient. by train. Rome was already scheduled as a group field trip for a weekend in March.
While we were planning, I played around with different options on Google Flight Search, a fairly new application that lets you select an airport and your dates then view how much it would cost to fly to different destinations on a map. And so, Cagliari emerged as the cheapest destination for our open weekend in March.
“Hey Julia, what do you say about going to Sardinia?” I asked.
Admittedly, I knew little about Sardinia or Cagliari when it showed up on my search results, but a round-trip plane ticket that cost 50 euros and a quick image search that turned up beaches and mountains quickly sold me on the idea. After all, perché no?
And so, it was the fate of perché no that led us to this beautiful Mediterranean Island for a quick beach getaway. We also got Dimitra, Staci, and Landon to join us, so we had a happy little group of 5 for the weekend.
Where in the world is Sardinia, anyways?
Sardinia––or Sardegna, as the Italians call it––is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily and just before Cyprus (where I had a wonderful trip last December). But unlike Sicily, Sardinia is far off the coast of Italy, making it even more isolated from the mainland. Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy, yet Sardinians have managed to maintain their own distinct dialect and culture. Almost every great Mediterranean power has once controlled this small island: the Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Genoese, Pisans, and Aragonese. In fact, Catalan is still widely spoken on the island and was once the official language until it was replaced by Spanish and later Italian in the mid-18th century.
After a quick and easy flight from Pisa, we arrived in Cagliari around 1 p.m. on Friday, taking a taxi to our apartment for the weekend. I had found a place for the five of us to stay on Airbnb in the old part of town––far from the main tourist drag. The taxi driver’s reaction was priceless when we arrived at our place.
“Are you sure it’s this?” he asked in Italian.
He dropped us and our bags off at the address then drove away, likely laughing at the confused Americans he dropped off in the middle of a local neighborhood.
No worries, Mr. Taxi Driver. We picked up the keys from our host’s mother at a house down the street, then walked inside.
The apartment was way better than I expected, complete with a spiral staircase that led up to a roof-top terrace with a beautiful view.
Once we dropped off our backpacks, we headed out to explore the city. Sometimes, the best way to sightsee is simply to wander.
At one point, we came across a glass elevator that took you up to the top of the cliff above.
“Should we take it?”
For a brief amount of time, I was able to convince everyone else that this elevator was indeed the number-one tourist attraction in Cagliari on TripAdvisor, until I hurriedly assured them that I was joking.
But the top truly did have a beautiful view!
From the elevator, we headed down the street until we came to a large, palazzo-type building. The outside looked like any other type of government building, with EU and Italian flags on the outside. But there was an open door so––perché no––we went inside.
Turns out we had stumbled upon the Royal Palace. The eery part was that there was no one else in building––no other tourists, no security guards. It was like we had snuck in.
Nearby, we walked into a beautiful church, the Cathedral of Santa Maria.
The Castello District of Cagliari sits high above the city, with piazza after piazza with amazing views.
We slowly made our way down to the water. It was so good to be near the Mediterranean Sea again! Seeing it every day last semester from my living room window was one of my favorite things about Alanya.
We walked up to Il santuario di Nostra Signora di Bonaria, located up on a hill overlooking the harbor.
Then it was time to navigate back to the apartment! (Those who know me would be amused to know that people actually think I have a “good” sense of direction here––at home, I can barely drive anywhere without plugging it into the GPS.)
We had dinner at a lovely seafood restaurant, then headed back to the apartment to quickly fall asleep.
A “walk” to the beach
The next morning, we got pastries from the nearby pasticceria and brought them back to enjoy our breakfast on the terrace.
Our main plan for the day was to seek out the beach. Cagliari’s main spot is Poetto Beach, a 5-mile long stretch of sand that Google Maps told us was about an hour walk away from our house. Sure, we could figure out how to take the bus there, but… perché no? We decided to walk.
Our walk took us down to the harbor, and we figured that if we followed the coast, eventually we’d get to the beach… right? After all, I had a general idea of what direction to go for the beach.
But soon the path along the harbor ended, so we had to head inland.
As we passed by a military base and an old abandoned cannery, I wasn’t so sure anymore about what direction we were going. But nevertheless, it was important to keep up appearances.
“Don’t worry guys, this abandoned cannery is actually the #3 attraction on TripAdvisor! Isn’t it cool?”
Except then we ended up on a bike path that seemed to be taking us further and further away from where we wanted to go.
Eventually, after we’d probably been walking for 90 minutes, we asked a runner for directions. You should have seen our faces when he told us that the beach was still around an hour away.
After following his directions, looking at several maps at bus stops, and walking on the side of the highway, we finally arrived at the beach after about two hours of walking.
It was beautiful.
And oh, we had earned it.
We ate lunch at a surprisingly cheap restaurant on the beach, then spent several hours tanning on the sand. It was a little too cold to go swimming, but we at least put our feet in so we could say that we went into the Mediterranean.
Afterwards, we walked to a gelateria that we had passed along the way. The unassuming establishment turned out to have the best gelato that I’ve had in Italy thus far––a flavor called Torta Paradiso that tasted faintly like key lime pie.
Staci and Dimitra went pack for a second scoop.
Afterwards, Julia and I wanted to check out another beach nearby, while the others took a taxi back to the apartment for a well-deserved nap. (Turns out the taxi only costed 10 euros… Oh well.)
It was probably best everyone headed back, because Julia and I managed to get lost once again. We debated just heading back, but decided to preserve. (Mainly for the sake of our pride over anything else.)
Eventually, we turned down a road that led us through the countryside, and finally, to Calamosca Beach.
It was so worth it.
Afterwards, we ambitiously decided to walk all the way back. (Again, there was a slight matter of pride.)
An hour and a half later, we finally made it back to the apartment. At last!
We all ate dinner at a restaurant nearby, then watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie in honor of our trip to Rome next week.
Because, after all, why not?