Life in Sardinia is probably the best a man can wish: twenty-four-thousands kilometers of forests, countryside, shores immersed in a miraculous sea, this corresponds to what I would suggest God to give us as Paradise.
Fabrizio De Andrè, 1996
Last September I spent a wonderful week travelling around the lovely island of Sardinia while working for the UK independent tour operator, Sardinian Places. I was there to visit and photograph self-catering holiday homes as well as a number really superb hotels. I was also on a mission to learn all I could about the island, its culture and its cuisine. Although I have been to Corsica, Sardinia’s French neighbour, many times, I had never visited this Italian island before, so it was a real treat for me. I met some wonderful people, ate lots of seriously good food and saw many a stunning view.
Over the next few weeks I’d like to share with you some of the wonderful memories I have of this island in the heart of the Mediterranean but first, here are a few highlights from my trip.
Southern Sardinia and Cagliari, the island’s capital
We flew into Cagliari on the southern coast of the island and had time for a quick look around and a bite to eat. The old town, with its narrow cobbled streets and lovely views, was a delight to wander around and the cathedral there is well worth a visit.
Having a hire car was wonderful, enabling us to explore the beautiful countryside and spectacular coast and to get to off the beaten track hotels.
After a couple of wonderful days exploring the south we headed north along the coast before heading inland and up into the mountains of Barbagia to one of the most charming hotels I’ve ever stayed in, Su Gologone (psst! Madonna once hired out the whole hotel for a week!).
The interior of Sardinia is rugged and wild with forests clinging to the sides of mountains and ancient olive groves to explore, mysterious caves and pretty waterfalls to discover. This is fantastic hiking country and a great place to connect with Sardinia’s ancient roots.
I would have loved more time in central Sardinia but it was soon time to move on, the famous beaches of the Costa Smeralda in the north beckoned. You’ll find glamorous resorts and marinas full of luxury yachts but look a little deeper and you’ll discover hidden coves, traditional market towns, a beautiful, rugged coast line and, as throughout the whole of Sardinia, a warm and welcoming people.
The traditional Sardinian feast we had at Agriturismo Tenuta Pilastru was served with a bottle of their own delicious wine. This was possibly the best meal we had and when you see what else we ate that week you’ll know that is really saying something!
Our journey ended near Olbia on the Golf Aranci coast. This is the area worst hit by last November’s horrendous storms and my heart ached for the wonderful island that had made me so welcome just a couple of months before.
Our last stop was the lovely Hotel Gabbiano Azzuro, one of my favourite hotels of the whole trip, before heading off to the airport of Olbia, just a 20 minute drive away. With my suitcase and hand luggage over flowing with cheeses and wine from Sardinia I said my farewells.
I fell for Sardinia big time, the rugged countryside, the lovely beaches, the pretty villages and the welcoming people, plus I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so well as I did that week. More on that coming soon!
Disclaimer: I travelled to Sardinia while working for Sardinian Places. As always, all thoughts expressed here are my own honest opinions.