One of the highlights of my summer every year is my summer holidays in Europe. Every August before going home to visit my parents in Wales we go somewhere on the continent for some rest and relaxation. This year the sun drenched paradise we chose to visit was the Italian island of Sardinia. I love going on summer holidays to the European islands – the shimmering blue mediterranean sea, the olive oil drenched food and mingling with the boisterous, sun tanned Europeans make a perfect end to the summer season.
On this trip we visited the northeast part of the island called Costa Smeralda and rented a house 2km from the area’s main town of Porto Cervo. Our house was on a hill and the higher elevation afforded us gorgeous views of the Sardinian coastline.
Normally holidays in Italy involve lots of trips to museums, cathedrals, and other historical sights. While I have no doubt that Sardinia is a culturally rich island with plenty if sightseeing, I decided on this trip to skip it and do nothing except eat, drink and sleep – rinse and repeat for 5 days. The times we did venture out in our rental car to do something other than eat in one of the fabulous restaurants in the Porto Cervo area, we visited nearby small towns like Palau, a port from where ferries left to go to the nearby island of Maddalena. Baia Sardinia, a tiny enclave from where we took a schooner for a day of sailing around the islands of the Maddalena Archepeligo.
Porto Cervo harbor
Porto Cervo is the perfectly manicured main town of the Costa Smerelda. I saw predominantly Italians vacationing here and one the the fun things to do is go to the old and new harbor and see the yachts of the mega rich.
Ferries leave the harbour of Palau and take 15 minutes to get to Maddalena, a charming little island off the northern coast of Sardinia. Unlike the man made perfection of Porto Cervo, the main harbour town of Maddalena has the cobblestone winding alleyways that are fun to get lost in. The terra-cotta brick glows amber in the sun, every other shop is a gelato shop, and there are plenty of little tourist shops selling everything you don’t need.
Sardinia is great for sailing. We decided to rent a schooner for a days sailing around the Maddallena Archipelago. We shared the boat with eight other people, including the captain and his wife. Appetizers of meats and cheese, a pasta lunch and snacks were included. The clear blue sea and the perfect breeze made it an unforgettable sailing experience.The islands we visited were La Maddalena, Budello, Santa Maria and Spargi. I was looking forward to seeing the famous pink sands of Budello but was disappointed to learn that due to people stealing the sand the island has been off limits for 19 years and boats can only sail past the island.
I imagined once we got to the island of Santa Maria and Spargi, the beaches would be empty and we could have the place to ourselves. I was shocked to find the the sea crowded with boats and the beaches so packed it was hard to see a grain of sand. I was told that August was always like this. I knew that all of Europe vacations in August – I just did not think they would all be at the beach I wanted to go to.
Sardinia is about seafood. Grilled fish and pasta with crab and lobster are on every menu. The food was delicious in Sardinia. I really did not have a bad meal. The dining experience I would recommend is at the Agriturismo La Colti restaurant – this place is known for it’s meats cooked on a spit on an open fire. The positives are that this is a charming country restaurant, set in a beautiful courtyard, the meal is a bargain for 33 euros – you get everything – salads, pasta, meat, dessert and coffee as well as an endless supply of the house red wine. The negative – sitting outside, I got bitten by mosquitoes.
I have a love affair with Italy. Earlier this year I went to Florence and Venice. I simply love going to Italy on holiday. For me Italy has everything you would want in a holiday destination – great weather, great food, friendly people and plenty of sights to see. I think one can spend a lifetime traveling in Italy, there is so much to discover. I cannot wait to return.