Don’t expect a beautiful place; Sardinia’s second-biggest city has the gritty individuality and drabness of a Sardinian working town. The outer shell is comprised of traffic-choked streets and modern apartments, but the medieval kernel is worth dipping into, especially at mealtimes; the old city hides some wonderful traditional restaurants.
Sassari rose to importance as its coastal counterpart, Porto Torres, began to decline. The capital of the medieval Giudicato di Logudoro, Sassari resisted both Genoese and Catalano-Aragonese rule. A university was set up here in the 16th century, but this has done little to arrest the city’s slow decline.