My sunny Sardinian sojourn – part II

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sunny beach at Lu Imposto Bay

Lu Imposto Bay

After our wonderful day of fresh mountain air and clear skies, the evening treated us to an unscheduled sound and light show; the heavens spectacularly opened, hiding Paradise in a curtain of torrential rain, while thunder and lightning crackled and flashed. There was nothing for it but to enjoy the whole display from the safety of our covered balcony with a bottle of wine.

Next morning the only trace of the night before was the freshly-washed look of the landscape. It was a Sunday, day of rest, and time to enjoy Paradise Resort, our home during our stay, after several days’ excursions. There were pleasant outdoor pools to try for a swim, not to mention the nearby bay of Lu Impostu, with a long stretch of white sand beach, perfect for a stroll and, for the less energetic, there were plenty of sun loungers for chilling in sunshine or shade. Feeling ambitious, of course I tried all three options, walking to the end of the bay and back, taking a dip in the sea and then relaxing by the pool – not a bad way to spend a morning.

“So… What’s for lunch?” Always a valid question when on worldwide adventures and when in Rome, or at least on Italian soil, one should munch like a local. My colleague and myself trundled over to nearby posh marina Puntaldia, where we’d had coffee the other day, and found a place overlooking the piazza, where they did delicious pizzas. What better on a Sunday than pizza al fresco in the sunshine by the sea? Walking back in the early afternoon heat was a different matter…

Olbia

The centre of Olbia

It was our last day in Paradise – come Monday the nearby town of Olbia and the northern coast were beckoning – so we made the most of our relaxing day, spending the afternoon on the beach, watching the waves lapping at the shore, while sipping wine. Sundays in Sardinia – I could get used to this, but next morning it was already time to say goodbye and board the bus to Olbia, Sardinia’s main centre in the northeast and gateway to a coastline of worldwide renown.

panoramic view of Costa Smeralda

The Costa Smeralda

In Olbia we met up with our guide for the day, Lucialda, manager of the local tourist office, who was taking us around the famed Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, that morning. “Discovered”, or should I say made famous, by Aga Khan in the 1960s, Costa Smeralda is truly a playground of the rich and the royals, but it has remained fairly unspoilt nonetheless. Today most of the coast is protected, with no buildings allowed within two kilometres of the coastline.  Following the sea north of Olbia, we spent the morning drinking in the views and they were fabulous. The road bends, weaves and winds its way up and down the coast, overlooking tiny coves, bright turquoise waters, small communities and, of course, the odd monster-sized yacht.

Quick stops at Porto Rotondo and Porto Cervo allowed us closer views of both sea and yachts. We even managed a coffee break in one of the yacht clubs before heading inland and checking out the traditional, small village of San Pantaleo, giving us a flavour of rural Sardinia, away from posh shops and Rolls Royce garages (one tiny coastal community actually had one of the latter and I suspect there might have been more than just the one). San Pantaleo was quiet and cosy in the midday sunshine, complete with medieval stone church and a picturesque café in the piazza. I was just starting to feel at home when it was time to return to Olbia for a slap-up meal. Sardinia, although attached to its hams and pork dishes of all kinds, also does very fine seafood and my lunchtime squid was grilled to perfection, accompanied by an assortment of grilled vegetables.

in front of the church in san Pantaleo

the church in San Pantaleo

In the afternoon, as well as the following day, I took to exploring the quaint old centre of Olbia. I happily strolled the part-pedestrianised Corso Umberto I, while sampling the gorgeous local ice creams, then taking time to sit in cafes scribbling in my diary and enjoying some local white vermentino wine in the evening, watching the sun set near the sea. Olbia, although perhaps not full of renowned sights, struck me as one of those charming, liveable places, where it’s easy to settle in and go about your daily business. The old centre has several quaint churches and a stone basilica, the piazzas are tranquil and pretty, the people friendly and the food good. Quite enough to make me want to, if not settle down, at least return and soon spend more time in the Sardinian sun.

For more information about Sardinia, click here.

Images and story © Anna Maria Espsäter

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