Discover the glittering gems of Italy’s priceless island, Sardinia
Late summer is a great time to explore the Mediterranean holiday island now open to vaccinated British travelers, says Sarah Marshall.
With turquoise waters comparable to those of Tahiti and sandy beaches rivaling the Seychelles, Sardinia is a mosaic of so many heavenly places. Yet his identity remains hidden from most.
Clothed in myths and legends, the island’s history predates the great temples and citadels built by the Romans, while a thriving population of centenarians defy science with their diet of red wine and cheese.
Enigmatic and mysterious, Sardinia asks to be discovered, especially at this time of year.
Once the heat has subsided and Italian vacationers have returned home, the Mediterranean island is a late summer delight. And now Italy has removed a five-day quarantine for vaccinated arrivals to the UK, requiring only a negative PCR or antigen test done no more than 48 hours in advance, the last drops of sunlight are in. at hand.
With over 200 beaches to choose from, it’s hard to look beyond the sea. But inland, there are mountains to hike, deep gorges to descend, and villages so fiercely independent that they have developed micro-cultures of customs, language and food.
Despite their differences, all share a common beauty; dazzle visitors with a treasure trove of precious jewelry.
Here are some of the shimmering delicacies.
Used to make jewelry, red coral has been prized for centuries and supports the economy of the Catalan town of Alghero on the northwest coast. Only 25 permits are granted each year to specialized deep-sea divers, who use an ax to extract a maximum of 2.5 kg of brittle branches.
In the late 1800s, hundreds of ships arrived for the ‘red gold’ rush, but now the only boats in Alghero harbor are tourist ships carrying visitors to sea caves like the Grotto of Neptune, an underground lake decorated with pointed stalactites.
The water that laps along the shores of Sardinia is reliably clear and clean, providing excellent conditions for swimming, snorkelling and diving. Among the best beaches are La Pelosa de Stintino on the west coast and La Poetto 9 km long in the south.
But one of the most picturesque sites is undoubtedly the Maddalena archipelago, located between the Strait of Bonifacio and Corsica. Take a boat trip to explore the protected pink sands of Budelli, colored by tiny fragments of coral, and watch wild boars swimming in the pine-lined bays.
Colonies of the Bronze Age
Over 7,000 conical watchtowers known as the nuraghe have been unearthed across the island, built between the 18th and 15th centuries BCE. Found nowhere else on earth, little is known about megalithic stone buildings – although many are still remarkably well preserved.
The largest settlement, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Su Nuraxi di Barumini in the south. Stroll between a geometric maze of drystone walls to reach a magnificent watchtower.
Rose quartz feathers
A common element in exotic environments, flamingos can also be found foraging, congregating and flexing their slender legs along the coast of Sardinia. Find them in a lagoon behind La Cinta Beach in San Teodoro, south of Olbia on the Costa Smeralda, where the new Baglioni Resort Sardinia (baglionihotels.com) opened in July.
Alternatively, larger populations can be seen in the salt marshes and ponds of Macchiareddu outside Sardinia’s capital, Cagliari, at dusk. Although visible from the road, you will need to park and walk around Molentargius Park to take a closer look.
The silver skies
Outside the cities, the lack of light pollution makes Sardinia a great place to study the night sky. An hour’s drive from Cagliari, Sardinia’s impressive radio telescope is the largest of its kind in Italy – although tours are currently on hold due to Covid.
But you don’t need a scientific platform to visualize the constellations. Not far from Alghero, to the northwest, the cliffs of Capo Caccia have become a popular lookout point for observing the Milky Way.