Stampace is the oldest of the four historical districts of Cagliari. It’s a place filled with history and traditions – Sant’Efisio festival is held here, and here you will find important ruins and monuments – but also one of the locals’ and tourists’ favorite places for shopping and hanging out.
Stampace has always been a lively neighborhood, mainly inhabited by merchants and bustling with life. Its vicinity to Castello, the noblemans’ district, has always made for some conflict among the inhabitants, and some of the misconceptions born from that are still common nowadays: one of the most famous ones is the belief that Stampace people are belligerent and stubborn, in opposition to the nobles’ calmer and quieter attitude.
That is obviously not true. What’s definitely true is that this is one of the nicest areas of Cagliari, perfect for a stroll, a drink and even as a place to stay while visiting the city. Curious to discover more about it? Continue reading!
A Short History Of Stampace, Cagliari
Stampace was already inhabited in Roman times, and there are plenty of ruins and relics to prove that: among them, the Roman Amphitheater is indeed the most incredible, but there are also other remains scattered around, like the Forum (which you can’t actually see as it is underground, in Piazza del Carmine), the Tigellio Villa, the thermal complex and some others.
Despite the area being well known for centuries, the real Stampace district was founded by the Pisans in the 13th century. It was the boutiques’ and merchants’ district, filled with life and people from all around the world, one of the liveliest and most dynamic parts of the ancient Cagliari. It was located right outside Castello district and its fortification and was, unfortunately, the most raided part of the city during the Saracen pirates’ times.
The name Stampace also seems to be derived from the Pisan influence: it is said that the district name is a shortened form of the Italian “stai in pace” (lit. “rest in peace”), which was the formula that executioners used to pronounce every time they had to kill someone. In this specific case, they were paid to execute whoever would have been found outside their homes after the curfew – at sunset – and it is commonly believed they used to say this formula when throwing the dead bodies over the Castello walls, into Stampace’s territory.
The district remained busy and bustling until today, despite the bombing of the Second World War, and is still one of the most crowded and incredible parts of Cagliari, undoubtedly a must-visit!
Let’s check out the unmissable places to visit and things to do in Stampace.
What To See And Do In Stampace, Cagliari
Travel back in time at the Roman Amphitheater
One of Cagliari’s most famous landmarks, the Roman Amphitheater allows you to dive into the ancient Karalis’ history and see where the Romans loved to perform and watch games, explore the theater’s underground, the games’ very backstage, and even get to hear some stories about the Roman times in Sardinia.
The best way to enjoy this incredible monument is with a guided tour. The tickets are very cheap (full price €3, discounted ticket €2) and they are definitely worth it! The site is open on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
See how Romans used to live at Tigellio’s Villa
Tigellio’s Villa erroneously got its name from a famous poet that lived in Cagliari during the Roman age. This complex is actually a portion of a rich neighborhood, where nobles and wealthy people used to live, and not a single person’s house.
The ruins are of extreme historical interest because they are a rare example of private roman housing – most of the ruins from this era are public buildings – and definitely deserve some of your time.
At the time of writing, visits are suspended.
Explore the Botanical garden
Cagliari’s Botanical Garden, with its 5 hectares of extension, is the most important garden on the whole island. Here, you can find several rare species of plants alongside the most common ones, and spend some peaceful hours walking in an excellent corner of nature, right in the heart of the Sardinian capital. There are also some Roman ruins in the garden, like a basin from the ancient thermal complex and pieces of the Roman aqueduct.
Admission to the Orto Botanico is €4. Guided tours cost €6. The site is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (April to October) and from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm (November to March.
Read my post The Nicest Parks And Gardens In Cagliari.
Visit Sant’Efisio Church
Sant’Efisio Church isn’t big or architectonically stunning but holds an irreplaceable function and meaning in Cagliari’s history and traditions. It’s, in fact, the main patron’s Church, the place where his statue is kept and from where the rites in his honor begin every year.
The building is located above a cave, which is believed to have been the Saint’s prison before he was executed in Nora. Inside, you can find some great pieces of art, so make sure to have a look.
Make sure to read my posts A Guide To Sant’Efisio Festival.
Have a look at San Michele Church
San Michele Church is one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Sardinia. The monumental church, filled with decorations and artworks on the inside, is definitely a stop to add to your itinerary through Stampace. Guided tours are also available, so, if you want to discover everything about this stunning building, you should try and book one.
Check out my post The Prettiest Churches In Cagliari.
Check out Sant’Anna Church
Dating back to 1818 and in typical Baroque style, construction of Sant’Anna Church actually started in 1785, when architect Giuseppe Viana designed it. The building was actually only finished in the 1930s, and unfortunately damaged during the bombings of WWII. Restoration works took place immediately after and the church was finally reopened in 1951.
Visit Santa Restituta’s Crypt
Thought to be the place of Saint Restituta’s martyrdom, the crypt was only found in the 17th century. During WWII it was actually used as a shelter during bombings, whereas the relics found in it where moved to the nearby Sant’Anna church.
Don’t forget to read my post A Guide To Cagliari Underground.
Have a walk in Corso Vittorio Emanuele
If you are looking for a safe, nice pedestrian-only area, filled with bars, restaurants, and shops, Corso Vittorio Emanuele is what you need. It’s the heart of the nightlife in Stampace, and a great place to have a walk and grab a bite at any hour of the day.
Read my post Where To Go For A Walk In Cagliari.
Do as the locals do in Piazza Yenne and Piazza del Carmine
Similarly to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Piazza Yenne too is an important meetup point in Cagliari. It takes its name from the marquis Ettore Veuillet d’Yenne, who requested its making, and was considered the starting point of the road to Porto Torres (the modern State Road SS 131). If you want to experience hanging out like a true Cagliari local, have a walk around Piazza Yenne.
Another popular hangout spot for locals in Stampace is Piazza del Carmine. It’s not nearly as crowded as Piazza Yenne, but since it is nice and flat it’s popular among families with children who love playing ball games there.
Head over to my post The Nicest Squares In Cagliari.
Take in the views from a distance
The views of Stampace from a distance are stunning. Head over to Bastione Santa Croce, in the Castello district, for an impressive sunset. Sit for a drink at Libarium Nostrum café and enjoy the view of the sun as it sets above the roofs of Stampace.
You will be able to spot the two towers of Santa Anna Church, the church of San Michele in the distance, and that of Cagliari’s old hospital, called Ospedale Civile and designed by architect Gaetano Cima in the mid 19th century.
Go for a drink
If you are tired of walking and climbing hills – Cagliari can be quite exhausting – you could stop and have a snack or a drink in one of Stampace’s many bars. Here is a selection of places I recommend:
LOCANDA CADDEO – A bit pricey but serves some of the best appetizers and drinks in Stampace.
OLD SQUARE – One of Cagliari’s historic Irish pubs, it serves good earthy food and beer, but also has a wine cellar.
SPILLAUS – A newly founded craft-beer pub, it also served good food.
IL MERLO PARLANTE – One of Stampace’s oldest pubs, very much a bit of the district’s history: loved by locals and tourists, with more than 50 types of sandwiches/burgers and an immense selection of beers to go with them.
INU – A nice wine bar in Via Sassari, one of Corso Vittorio’s side streets. It also serves charcuterie.
Head over to my post The Best Nightlife In Cagliari.
Practical Guide To Stampace
Where to eat
Stampace has a selection of excellent restaurants. Most of them are located along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, but if you push yourself to one of the narrow side alleys you will find even more places that locals appreciate.
Framento is literally the best pizzeria in Cagliari, and one of the best in Italy, where you can sit and enjoy an excellent pizza after your day of explorations. Many have fallen in love with this place and make sure to come back every time they visit Cagliari. It’s also open for lunch.
Read my post The Best Pizzerie In Cagliari.
A restaurant that serves fusion food, adding a touch of Sardinian ingredients to Japanese cuisine. You need to try their dishes! The place isn’t very big, and maybe you will need a few minutes to find it, but it will all be worth it. It’s best to book in advance.
Make sure to read my post The Best Restaurants In Cagliari.
Etto is a special butcher’s shop: during the day, they sell prime quality meat – like any other butcher. But it turns into a bistrot during dinner time. The meat is excellent, the dishes are prepared with care, and are delicious. Believe me, you won’t regret trying this place out.
Also open for breakfast, Ex Tipografia is an incredible wine bar and restaurant. You can choose among tons of dishes, both typical, Italian or international, and enjoy the unique vibe of an old typography that’s been transformed in a restaurant. The wine selection is immense – I go there to drink South African Pinotage, which isn’t exactly easy to find in Cagliari.
Another excellent restaurant (my best friend’s favorite), Trattoria Crackers offers several Italian and Sardinian dishes, mainly seafood-based, with a few vegetarian options as well. Prices aren’t too high and the place is neat and cozy. Try their fried eggs with truffle!
Chiaroscuro di Marina Raverotto
With vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, this place will surely meet your tastes and needs. It serves traditional Sardinian dishes with a contemporary twist.
Sa Domu Sarda
If you are looking to try Sardinian staples, cooked the old-fashioned way, this is the place to go. It’s in Via Sassari, one of the side alleys to Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. It’s a popular place among locals and tourists alike, so make sure to book in advance.
Where to sleep
You will find many good places to stay in Stampace. The area is so central that you won’t need a car to move around (unless you are planning day trips out of town). Below is a selection of the best accommodation options in Stampace.
For more places to stay in Cagliari, read this post.
Managed by the lovely Alessandro, this guest house is located in the heart of Stampace, in a nice historic building that’s been beautifully refurbished. Rooms are spacious and comfortable.
Excellent location, free Wi-Fi, and great rooms with private bathrooms and toiletries. What more do you need? This Bed and Breakfast is an excellent pick, no matter what part of Cagliari you are visiting.
This hotel is a great place to spend your stay at. You can enjoy free Wifi, free parking, an airport shuttle, and excellent rooms equipped with every comfort, all while being in an excellent part of the city, just a few hundred meters from the main attractions.
White House Apartments
Located in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the pulsing heart of Stampace, this apartment complex has everything you need – and more. Free WiFi, a kitchen equipped with all the tools you might need, and bathrooms with free toiletries and bathrobes are just a few of the many charming points of this apartment.