Not far from the Isola che c'è there's a peaceful green oasis that's definitely worth a visit. This is Cagliari's Botanical Garden, whose history - fairly recent and full of ups and downs - has not stopped it becoming one of the most representative gardens for mediterranean trees and shrubs, as well as many others brought from all over the world. The garden is located in the city centre and occupies an area of some five hectares between the Roman amphitheatre and the Tigellio Villa.
In recent centuries the land it occupies was owned first privately, then by the Jesuits; it became royal property in 1778 when the clergy were expelled from the island, and was finally acquired by the University of Cagliari in 1851. When the university took over, the area was used as a dump, so the work to convert it into a botanical garden took several years. It was only in 1866 - on 15 November - that the inauguration finally took place; within a decade the garden was extremely successful. In 1884 the founder, professor Patrizio Gennari, published the first Guide to the Botanical Garden in the Royal University of Cagliari, which described the already numerous plants and mapped their locations.
In the early 20th century, the founder's ideas and plans finally came to fruition in a model vegetable garden, one of the most important in Italy. By the first half of the twentieth century the garden was at the height of its glory, but this was interrupted by the Second World War, which caused major damage. After the war came the restoration work: today the garden preserves its original design - typically in trapeziums - more or less intact, and contains some two thousand plant species. The sections of succulents and mediterranean species are particularly fascinating, with geophytes, mediterranean woods and maquis and strongholds of biodiversity. One of the most interesting recent sections is the Orto dei Semplici, whose name derives from the hortus simpliium or hortus medicus of medieval monastery tradition - it reflects an interest in medicinal plants. The first botanical gardens were basically collections of herbs for the preparation of "semplici", or the raw ingredients used in the pharmacopeia, and from earliest history the main source of therapeutic drugs. Lastly, the garden also has archaeological interest, with wells and water tanks from the Roman period.
How to get there: The Botanical Garden is in Viale Sant'Ignazio da Laconi.