Sardinia has historically enticed and charmed its visitors, from the Romans, Catalans and Italians who previously ruled there to countless poets and artists seeking respite and inspiration. In his 1920’s novel The Sea and Sardinia, Gerbert Lawrence wrote of the island ‘This is a place on earth that remains outside time and history’. A big claim, and the hotels, restaurants and bars are definite clues that Sardinia has entered the twenty first century, but somehow the magical quality described by Lawrence endures (ignoring the plastic beach loungers).
Traditional villages and fairytale harbours from a seemingly different age decorate the ancient landscape, which won me over as soon as we arrived. The ancient geology is softened by rosemary bushes; wild figs and nuts growing in secluded groves. We found secret swimming spots and hideaways for picnics, the azure water deliciously warm to boot. The addition of tranquil spas, quaint harbour side restaurants and tastefully designed, luxury hotels in Sardinia (for the most part) add to rather than detract from the charm of the island, rendering it the closest things you’ll find in Europe to a secluded paradise.
Despite not being moved outside of time completely, Sardinia at least made me slow down a bit. Sipping coffee in the beautifully crafted harbour streets I did indeed take a nice deep breath out. Having visited Italy many times I was pleasantly surprised to find a stunning natural beauty and pace of life in Sardinia which is completely removed from the bustle and gusto of the mainland. Italy’s elegant, mysterious little sister island has a temperament and character of her own. And the wonderful thing is that far from being all beauty and no brains, Sardinia has culture and history that gives the mainland a run for its money. Walks inland lead to ruins and monuments from a variety of different ages and civilizations, small islands off the coasts providing the setting for magical daytrips.
The hotel was also spot on, mixing aspects of the traditional Sardinian vibe and classic service with all the luxury of contemporary comfort. The private beach for guests was a huge bonus and took away any hassle in terms of getting ready for and travelling to beaches. Our sea view from the private balcony was postcard perfect, and I found myself loosing hours sitting out there and taking in the view(alright, I might have been napping). Jacuzzis and personal butlers were also on offer, not to mention the array of tempting treats which laid in wait at the hotel’s spa.
The richness of the land and pristine quality of the water provide for a Sardinian cuisine which is colourful, fresh and irresistible. Lobster, tuna, squid and mussels are all freshly caught. Impressed by the food, I enquired to discover that the island boasts its own organically grown vegetables, beans, nuts and fruit which were used in the hotel menu. There was certainly a great balance being struck between fresh, innovative ideas and timeless tradition.