We have always wanted to visit Sardinia and in 2012 this was part of our Italian get-away. In hind sight, we did too much on this trip.
We went to various areas of Italy, and after we left Rome, we drove to Civitavecchia and stayed the night in a hotel so that we would be ready for one of the first morning ferries to Sardinia.
We arrived at the ferry dock by 7:30 am. Easy to find the dock, and although a little hectic in terms of the loading of the ship, we made it okay. Parking the car on the boat was an experience. No generals straight lines like the British Columbia ferry to Vancouver Island. No they cram a car into any little space possible.
Once on the boat we headed to the loung to get a seat. We did not on this trip reserve a seat in advance. But we were okay, and of course there were food facilities on the boat. This was a special trip for us as we travelled to Sardinia on our wedding anniversary. An economy version of a cruise. No scrimping here. The regular ferry takes 10 hours but we opted for the speed ferry which cuts the trip in half.
This for some time has been on our list of places to see in Italy and in 2012 we spent a week on the Island..
The Region of Sardinia is about 120 miles off the west coast of Italy. The coast of this island is considered some of the most spectacular in Europe. The sights on the island include:
Cagliari: The capital of Sardinia with an interesting historical center.
Cala Luna: a noted beache (which on this trip we did not make it to).
Costa Smeralda: an area known for its stunning emerald-green waters and white-sand beaches. This is the area we would be staying in but although it is beautiful, it was not the experience we were expected. Expect to see lots of walled privated property.
Sardinians speak their own dialect, and depending on where we were on the island, the degree of difficulty to understand 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 we felt that people 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. We concentrated our travels in the north of the island, which is unfortunately also the most expensive tourist area.
Our hotel was wonderful, we even got upgraded. The meals were wonderful and the beach pristine. Oh the water. I look back at how I walked through the water with my camera around my neck. Seemed like the okay to do at the time and luckily I never tripped or fell into the water as that would have been a disaster.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.