One of the oldest and largest green lungs of Cagliari is home to a variety of picturesque local characters and historically significant buildings. Mount Urpinu park spreads out over 22 hectares on its eponymous hill between the Molentargius-Saline natural park and the Bonaria hills. It owes its name to a now-extinct colony of foxes that populated it until a few centuries ago, when it was still covered in wild vegetation. In fact, Urpinu means “little fox” in Campidanese. Monte Urpinu was also the site of some small military forts until it was bought by the aristocratic Sanjust family. The new owners first had it reforested, planting numerous Aleppo pines, and then restored a small church, now known as the Aragonese Church, originally built between the 17th and 18th centuries over the remains of a small Byzantine sanctuary.
In 1939, Monte Urpinu became the permanent property of the City of Cagliari. It was soon turned into an urban park, although the side that looks out over the Molentargius swamp remained at the disposal of the Italian air force, who constructed a base and some underground fuel storage tanks there. Another area of the hill was used as a limestone quarry. In 2007, the military abandoned its base, and several decades before that the park underwent a further reforestation project.
It is now one of the favourite outdoor leisure spots of local residents. Here you can walk along a series of paths or go for a good run. There is also exercise machinery and a popular tennis club. Families take their children to the park to enjoy the spacious equipped playground. Picnics can be organised in the shade of trees and next to some artificial lakes. There are even two hectares dedicated entirely to dogs. And speaking of animals, the local fauna is also one of the park’s attractions. There are swans, moorhens, mallards, geese, tree frogs, turtles and colourful peacocks. The park is also home to a colony of cats. Equally interesting is the flora: in addition to the pines, you will spot willow trees, oleanders, junipers, and holm oak, mastic and olive trees.
The eastern flank of the hill has a panoramic road from which you can enjoy gorgeous views on both sides: from the Belvedere you’ll see the spectacular Golfo degli Angeli (Gulf of Angels), spot the Sella del Diavolo (Devil’s Saddle), Molentargius and its salt flats, and the Poetto beach. On the other side, looking west, you’ll see San Michele hill, crowned with its medieval castle, the historical districts of Villanova, Castello and Marina, the harbour and the Stagno di Cagliari (Cagliari Pond).