Sardinia

SardiniaThis for some time has been on our list of places to see in Italy and in 2012 we spent a week on the Island..

Sardinia is about 120 miles west of the mainland of Italy. The coast of this island is considered some of the most spectacular in Europe.

The Region has a lot of offer with great waters and beaches, inland valleys, and rugged mountains.

Sardinians speak their own dialect, and depending on where we were on the island, the degree of difficulty varies. But rest assure. If you can understand any Italian, you will get by just fine. Also, we found the people of Sardinia to be very friendly and they went out of their way to help.

It is written that this is a Region of Extreme. Intense summer heat. Harsh winters. Hotels and restaurants are either expensive or primitive. Public transportation is unreliable. In the summer ferries and planes are packed. Much of this we can agree with. At the very north is the most expensive tourist area. We did not travel to the far south, so we will only be able to comment on areas to the south after another trip.

Porto-Cervo on the Costa Esmeraldo has gigantic yachts - the Pelorus, 19th largest luxury yacht, $300 million in 2012
Porto-Cervo, on the Costa Esmeraldo, is home to massive-sized yachits. This is the Perorus, the 19th largest luxury yacht.
  • Porto-Cervo, on the Costa Esmeraldo, is home to massive-sized yachits. This is the Perorus, the 19th largest luxury yacht.
  • The Golfo-Aracnci beach is simply stunning.
  • Santa Caterina di Pittinuri is a scenic little town with a rock cover on the west coast of the island.
  • Driving across the region we came across Bosa, a town of multi-coloured buildings.

 

We arrived at Olbia, having taken a five hour ferry from Civittavecchia - one of the shortest routes from the mainland to the island. We arrived and left immediately traveling up to Golfo Aranci - about a 45 minute drive - despite the maps saying it is 13 km. The route is inland away from the coastline.

Golfo Aranci

The town's roots are that of an old fishing village, and there is still active fishing going on - and this is different from some of the towns in this area which are basically parking lots for yachts. In the 19th Century Olbia was designated as a port for arrivals to the island.

I would say that this is really the start of the Emerald Coast, there are numerous beaches. We stayed in the Hotel Gabbiano Azzuro which was just beautiful. We will be including the Gabbiano Azzuro in our Great Places to Stay listing. The place has what we call the WOW factor.

Porto Cervo

The Costa Esmeralda was created by Aga Khan, one of the richest royals, and Porto Cervo is considered one of the main centers of this stretch of coastline. We did not go to its famous art gallery (Monte di Mola) and I am not sure what we were expecting. The town is very modern. The marina was a parking lot for big yachts. It turns out the Pelorus, the 19th largest luxury yacht in the world is regularly parked there and I believe that is one of the boats we saw. It sold in 2011 for $300 million.

This is a town of money. The Hotel Cala di Volpe, and we did not stay here, has the 15th most expensive hotel suites according to an CNN survey in 2012.

We did not like Porto Cervo, no atmosphere. No life along the water. We left after a very short stay.

Palau

From Porto Cervo we continued our drive towards the northern tip of Sardinia, and stopped in Palau. It was a larger and more established down that Porto Cervo, but other than the scenic beaches along the coast, there is not much of interest in this town.

Alghero

Ahhh, this was a very interesting town, and it had much more of the type of feel that we look for in cities or towns were we stay. We stayed at the Hotel Florida, located facing the beach, about a 20 minute walk from the historic centre of town. The town has a broad promendade that extends along the beach.

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The historic centre is a network of old narrow streets, some palazzos that were not destroyed in bombing during World War II - overall and good feel about the place. .

While there, we ate numerous times at the Ristorante Pizzeria Ramblas located just a block away on via Don Minzoni. Great place to eat.

  • The Cathedral di Santa Maria dates back to 1570. The pillars were added in the 20th century, unfortunately in my view.
  • Cloisters at the Church of St. Francis in Alghero
  • The Church of St Francis dates back to 1360 and was rebuilt in the 16th century. It includes cloisters and is a very pleasant church.
  • There are rampart walls from the 16th century still in place, and walked along the walls, along the water is very pleasant.

 

Alghero to Oristano Drive

This was a great day. We headed our from Alghero and drove along the coast towards the town of Oristano. The drive is around 100 km, but give yourself time to make frequent stops as we left in the morning and did not turn off to head back up until almost 3. Here, almost all the the route is right along the water.

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There are plenty of opportunities to view coves and beaches, a good number of pull-offs on the road.

Along the way, Santa Caterina di Pittinuri is a place that deserves a stop. This small down in a rock cover along the coast is very scenic. We stopped here and had lunch at La Scogliera. This is a small pensionne hotel, but they have a large restaurant, with an outdoor patio that overlooks the sea. The food was very good. The price extremely reasonable. Although the business card indicated they had a web site, I have been unable to find the particular restaurant. The name, is common to many areas of Italy.

Bosa

Bosa is a very scenic town. We stopped at Bosa Marina to enjoy a drink along the water. However, the most scenic event is the town of Bosa itself, which is inland along the river.

Bosa

The main town looks stunning as you drive away, and the road starts to take you up into the hills. Looking back the town is a wall of multi-coloured buildings.

Sassari

This is the second largest city in Sardinia, has a rich historical past and was very interesting. We enjoyed our visit here. There are grand piazza, a university, numerous churches. The Fontana del Rosello , Late Renaissance style, has statues for each season, and one equestrian, of San Gavino.  The  Cathedral of St. Nicholas, from the 13th Century; was originally in Romanesque style and then iut was later rebuilt in Gothic Stule with a Baroque facade.  The Palazzo Ducale, a monumental 18th-Century limestone construction. The Tower of St. Anthony is a remain of the original 13th-Century walls.

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  • The university was founded in 1562 by the Jesuits. Go inside as there is a pleasant courtyard in the center of the main building.
  • Only 6 or the 36 towers that used to be part of the Pisan City Walls from the 13th century remain.
  • We had a great lunch at a little restaurant/bar on the Piazza d'Italia, which is the main square in Sassari.