DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT
Sardinia the Bold & Beautiful
A story by Sarah Casewit

For centuries, the Italian island of Sardinia has been playing a game of tug of war with its deep African
roots and rich European ancestry, yet this gem remains underrated in the mass travel world. This may come as a
surprise to most readers, given Sardinia’s astounding history, charming quirks and natural beauty. Floating only
a mere 150km/93mi from the North African coast and 200km/125mi west of Italian mainland, Sardinia is a
place of wonder, proudly owning second place in size among the islands of the Mediterranean. It is most famous
for having some of the bluest waters in the world. But there’s more, it also dons a rugged coat of mountain
ranges, fringed with boulder-strewn canyons that deserve great recognition.

Ttraditional way of life in Sardinia has stamped it as a Blue Zone, joining Japan, Costa Rica and Greece, among other elite regions of the world where time seems to hit the pause button for people. Indeed, when you first arrive in Sardinia and stroll through its historic towns, you can already sense that locals are enjoying a little more of life than the rest of us.
Baglioni Resort Sardinia
Known to locals as Sardegna, this Mediterranean island may seem remote but is in fact well connected to its neighboring hubs with direct flights into its three main airports: Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari. For a more meditative arrival, you might want to check out the ferry schedules for these ports and take in the grand azure on your way to this paradisiacal island.

Like any spectacular island, the best way to discover Sardinia is to get deep into its backroads and get lost in its canyons. Ideally, you would get the Sarda Elite Group to take you on a bespoke journey with a private driver and expert, local guide. Being accompanied by a Sardinian only increases your chances of delving into the island’s culture in an authentic manner. This stellar team even offers a “Guardian Angel” service that provides a personal, local host to accompany you throughout your experience, ensuring every expectation is not only met but surpassed.

The manager at Sarda Elite Group, Oksana Syrotyuk, describes Sardinia with great passion: “Down every country lane and in every 10-man, 100-sheep hamlet, these remnants of prehistory are waiting to be pieced together like the most puzzling of jigsaw puzzles.” A puzzle indeed, and a historic one at that – the island of Sardinia is dotted with over 7000 nuraghi; Bronze Age towers and startling settlements that include eerie landmarks such as the Giant’s Grave and the Fairy House Tombs.

With almost 2,000km/1,242mi of a stunning coastline, Sardinia’s beaches come in many shades of blue and turquoise, hugging the limestone cliffs with a gentle ebb and flow. Some vote that the most beautiful beaches of all are in La Maddalena National Park, just north of the island. This reserve consists of some 60 islands shimmering and sparkling with shallow waters where boats float to the calming beat of the current. With the insider contacts at Sarda Elite Group, you can stay in a luxury villa in Palau, across the bay from La Maddalena, with sweeping views of the archipelago. Using your private villa as a base, visit the national park by yacht and explore La Maddalena, the only inhabited island in the archipelago. Take a full day excursion with a private guide and boat organized to perfection by Sarda Elite Group. Go beach-hoping from Cala di Trana to Spargi, one of the island’s most secluded coves. Continue on to the Port of the Madonna, Spiaggia Rosa – an astonishing pink beach and finally La Maddalena’s historical centre for some shopping and sightseeing.
                    Oksana Syrotyuk, Manager at Sarda Elite Group
                                                     Hotel Abi d'Oru
Another must while staying near La Maddalena National Park is a swim at Cala Coticcio, also known as “Little Tahiti”. As its nickname implies, this protected beach is famous for its fine white sand and stunning hues of cobalt, crystal-clear waters. What’s more, the beach is stunningly framed by rose-coloured rock formations, as you will see on your intense trek to the cala.

Northern Sardinia is dominated by the world-famous Emerald Coast, that not only boasts a wealth of natural beauty (deep coves wedged into rough landscapes of pink granite to name one) but also the more common and tangible kind of wealth, with its dazzling ports that draw luxury yachts of jetsetters from near and far. Glitzy Porto Cervo is indeed the world capital for people watching and may be the most sought out port of the Mediterranean. If you stay long enough, you might catch a glimpse of a sports champion, an Olympic athlete, a famous businessman or a politician dining at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants. Here, visitors have spotted celebrities in the line of Madonna, Elton John, Harrison Ford and George Clooney. Stroll through the famous Piazzetta and the winding streets dotted with boutiques and jewellers fit for the upper crust of society. Step into the seemingly simple buildings that conceal the finest hotels and exclusive villas in their interiors.

The Emerald Coast’s secret sauce is that it actually offers both elegant discretion and dazzling flamboyance all at the same time. For an intimate experience, you can choose to continue the private villa theme and stay in a luxury home in the heart of Porto Cervo (ask Oksana for “Villa Giulia”), or head over to the next town, Golfo Pevero, and book a suite at the CPH Pevero Hotel. If you’re looking to splurge, stay in the Presidential Suite, the most requested room thanks to its private pool and unbelievable views of the gulf. CPH Pevero Hotel is famous for its five stunning swimming pools immersed in lush botanic gardens and its immaculately designed lounge terrace ideal for some reading and downtime.
                                      Forte Village Resort
                                            CPH | Pevero Hotel
On one of your afternoons, be sure to venture out to Surrau, a vineyard that combines centuries of tradition with innovative technology to produce some of the best wines on the island. Vigne Surrau is relatively new to the game, but it is one of the rare breeds of producers that excels at its choice of grapes; Vermentino, Carignano, Muristellu and Cannonau. These types of endemic grapes combined with the granite tainted soil produces wines that are unique to the region.

A 25-minute drive south down the coast takes you to yet another wondrous coastal jewel: Porto Retondo. Here, you cannot miss the Hotel Abi D’Oru, a five-star property spread across the whitesand beach of Marinella. This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia and is just steps away from the hotel’s gardens and pools. The hotel is famous for its distinct architecture: hexagonal buildings that recall a beehive facing the sea. Nicola Monello, Director of Sales at Hotel Abi D’Oru, says that “many rooms are dedicated to important Sardinian personalities, the most popular is one of our Signature Suite.” Named after Nobel Prize-winning Sardinian author, Grazia Deledda, this suite embodies a simple luxury that reflects Sardinian traditions, elegantly communicated through a careful combination of materials and décor with a wonderful terrace sea-view.

Take time to explore your surroundings during your stay at Hotel Abi D’Oru. Punta Nuraghe, the strip that separates the Gulf of Cugnana from Porto Rotondo, boasts an especially beautiful beach called Ira. This is one of the least crowded beaches of the area, according to Oksana at Sarda Elite Group, and offers the backdrop of a low-hanging cliff. Ira Beach is named after Princess Ira von Fürstenberg who used to own a villa nearby.

Now for the most prized treat of your journey through Sardinia: the Baglioni Resort Sardinia. This lavender besieged property is located in the protected marine area of Tavolara, a stunning seascape of bays and islands perfectly designed for swimming and diving. It is one of the most fascinating natural sites of the Mediterranean, according to Alessandro Sitzia, Baglioni Resort’s Sales Manager and a Sardinian native. He prides himself for working at the only 5-star hotel in Sardinia with a Michelin-starred restaurant: Gusto by Sadler. What’s more, the resort has direct access to Lu Impostu, one of the best beaches in Europe. If you’re traveling with family and want to show them the very best the resort has to offer, book the Tavolara Suite that can accommodate up to 6 people. Be sure to reserve early though, this is the hotel’s most requested accommodation. For magical sunset sessions, head over to the Sunset Terrace Bar for cocktails and aperitifs before dinner.

On your way to southern Sardinia, stop by Mamoiada to discover Sardinia’s craftsmanship and artisanal culture. The town of Mamoiada is best known for its carnival where locals wear uniquely designed wooden masks made by artisans following traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation. With your private, expert guide, you’ll visit the workshop of a mask maker to learn about this historic custom. Stop by a local bakery to taste delicious carasau bread that made the town famous. End strong with a wine tasting session at Cannonau Winery cellar.

Your adventure through Sardinia culminates in the south of the island while staying at Forte Village Resort. It comes to no surprise that the village is exactly what it says it is: a collection of exceptional resorts, restaurants and amenities. You can choose to stay in any of the 8 properties, each fully immersed in natural surroundings.

We spoke to Paolo Mancuso, Director of Projects at the resort and he believes you won’t find a place anywhere else in the world that offers such a great variety of services and activities on hand. In a way, Forte Village is an experience in and of itself, offering guests a choice of more than 20 sports academies on site, as well as the opportunity to practice any given sport with a legend. The resort excels beyond its sports offerings, and provides you with the option of a variety of exceptional culinary experiences designed by Michelin starred chefs like Heinz Beck, Massimiliano Mascia, and Andrea Berton. If you’re traveling with children, this is your vacation playground. Forte Village is a child’s wonderland, with a miniature town square, a life-sized Barbie house, go Kart tracks, bowling lanes and an exciting water park with winding slides.

Sarda Elite Group will continue to handle your tours throughout the south of the island, with a guided visit of the capital of Cagliari. This city is famous for its fantastic historical buildings such as the Duomo and the Bastione San Remy, as well as its developed marina that beckons a sunset stroll. Walk through the fortified quarter of the Castello featuring a medieval wall dating back to the 13th century and choose from a variety of exquisite museums and handpicked boutiques.

For lovers of the ancient world and history buffs, the city of Nora is a must. Only a quick drive from Forte Village, the sunken city of Nora is considered one of the oldest towns in Sardinia, dating back to the year 9 B.C approximately. Here, your private guide will give insight to the different civilizations that left traces of their occupation, including Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans, just as Nobel Prize winning poet Grazia Deledda depicts so elegantly in her poem, We Are Sardinians:

We are Sardinians
We are Spaniards, Africans, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Pisani, Byzantines, Piedmontese.
We are the golden-yellow broom that showers onto rocky trails like huge lamps ablaze.
We are the wild solitude, the immense and profound silence,
the brilliance of the sky, the white flower of the cistus.
We are the uninterrupted reign of the mastic tree, of the waves that stream over ancient granite, of the dog-rose, of the wind, of the immensity of the sea.
We are a land of long silences, of horizons vast and pure, of plants glum, of mountains burnt by the sun and vengeance.
We are Sardinians.

Sarah Casewit
                          
Sarah is a seasoned travel writer and photographer with a professional background in the luxury travel industry and business development. She has spent most of her life living and working internationally, including Morocco, Argentina and India. Writing is a means for Sarah to express her deep appreciation for travel and how it has the potential to change our perception of others and ourselves. Sarah currently lives in Mallorca, Spain.

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