Sardinia’s second city, SASSARI combines an insular, traditional feel, as embodied in its well-preserved old quarter, with a forward-looking, confident air that is most evident in its modern centre. Here, leading off from the grandiose Piazza Italia, the café-lined Via Roma holds the city’s principal sight, the Museo Sanna, displaying some of the island’s most important archeological finds.
While Cagliari was Pisa’s base of operations in Sardinia during the Middle Ages, Sassari was the Genoan capital, ruled by the Doria family, whose power reached throughout the Mediterranean. Under the Aragonese it became an important centre of Spanish hegemony, and the Spanish stamp is still strong, not least in its churches. In the sixteenth century the Jesuits founded Sardinia’s first university here, which continues to excel in the spheres of law, medicine and politics.Read More
One of Sardinia’s showiest festivals – La Cavalcata– takes place in Sassari on the penultimate Sunday of May, the highlight of a month of cultural activities. Northern Sardinia’s equivalent to Cagliari’s Sant’Efísio festival and originally staged for the benefit of visiting Spanish kings or other dignitaries, it attracts hundreds of richly costumed participants from villages throughout the province and beyond. The festival is divided into three stages: the morning features a horseback parade and a display of the embroidered and decorated costumes unique to each village, after which there is a show of stirring feats of horsemanship at the local race-course. The day ends with traditional songs and dances back in Piazza Italia.