Earlier this month, our Product Executive, Ingrid, took a memorable trip to Sardinia and explored its stunning central region. This was her experience...
As a Product Executive for Sardinian Places, I had the pleasure to be invited to take part in an educational trip to Sardinia organised by the Italian tourist board in early May.
After a couple of hours’ flight with British Airways from London, I landed in Cagliari in the south of the island. As I stepped out of the plane, I was greeted by beautiful sunshine, which was lovely considering the weather I had left behind in the UK!
Once I met with the rest of our small friendly group of travel professionals from different European countries, we started our scenic drive through the rolling hills and mountains to our hotel, Su Gologone.
I instantly fell in love with this hotel. Its privileged location surrounded by mountains and well-kept gardens is very pleasing to the eye, and its atmosphere made me feel very relaxed.
Our host, Giovanna, welcomed us with an aperitivo organised by local producers, introducing us to local wines and cheeses.
We were shown to our room to freshen up before dinner. ‘Wow’ was the first word that came to my mind when I saw it; it was simply beautiful. I was given a Junior Suite, a large room with a lounge area, a shower room and a balneo bath big enough for two people. The furniture and upholstery were all handmade, in keeping with the traditional Sardinian style.
Dinner (or should I say feast!) was served at the Corte de Su Re Restaurant. We enjoyed an authentic, mouth-watering Sardinian meal consisting of prosciutto crudo, pecorino sardo cheese, pane caresau (local bread), cooked meats, pasta, vegetables and ricotta ice cream; all washed down with excellent local wine.
At breakfast, I couldn’t detach myself from the view in front of me; the large pool and vast lush gardens made for an outstanding scene. Before carrying on with our journey, we were given a tour of the hotel. Everything was so well thought of, ensuring guests have a memorable stay. I lost count of the number of open-air, colourful lounges scattered through the extensive grounds of the hotel, where guests can relax and absorb the natural decor around them.
The hotel has its own vegetable garden, gym and spa, crazy golf, library and boutique. The rooms all have different themes and include local art and craft. I could definitely see myself staying a week at Su Gologone with my husband, it really is the ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of a hectic lifestyle and it is also only a 25-minute drive to the beach - bliss.
We then took a short drive to Oliena, a quaint and charming town,10 minutes from Su Gologone. Here we were invited to visit the local wine producer, shoemaker, and cheese producers. The hospitality being so warm in Sardinia, we were offered more wine, cheese, prosciutto crudo and some local sweets with marzipan. After lunch in Nuoro, we carried on discovering the little rural villages in the heart of the island, travelling north through Central Sardinia. Little old Fiat 500s, linen hanging off balconies, colourful flowers everywhere, narrow cobbled streets and magnificent churches; all contributing to the charm of these little villages.
Upon arrival in Olbia, we went for dinner at a fish restaurant. It was probably one of the best culinary experiences I have had in Sardinia. Fish on the island is excellent, and we sampled six light courses, including fresh tuna steaks cooked to perfection.
The following day, we drove west, stopping on the way in Aggius, a small village full of character, where we were lucky to hear some traditional choir singing. We saw original rugs being handmade and visited a local delicatessen where we bought traditional specialties to take home.
After another amazing Sardinian lunch, we carried on to the picturesque medieval town of Castelsardo. We had to stop on the way to take photos as the approaching town looked so impressive from afar. We were welcomed by the mayor who organised a visit of the citadel with a guide. I would recommend good shoes for the visit, as the town is home to many uphill streets with uneven surfaces. Again, we were wowed by the panorama of the sea beyond, where on a clear day it is possible to see the island of Corsica from the castle.
It is well worth visiting the cathedral and the narrow lanes where restaurants and bars can be found. It is not unusual to see women weaving baskets on their doorstep, which are later sold in local shops. At the bottom of the citadel there is a small beach with yet more shops and restaurants.
During my short time in Castelsardo, I visited the grounds of the Hotel Bajaloglia Resort which we feature in our programme. The hotel was very smart and the location idyllic, enjoying a direct view of the citadel. Sadly, it was then time to drive back south to Cagliari for our flight home.
What I have learnt from this short trip, as well as the fantastic beaches I had seen on previous trips, is that the island boasts beautiful scenery and several traditional villages, all discovered when visitors take the time to travel further afield. The food on the island is fantastic, and it is well worth sampling Sardinia’s traditional dishes. I probably ate more cheese and drank more wine in three days than I do at home in a week, and I am French! It was a fantastic taster for me and I will definitely return with my husband, who is half Italian. I am sure he will love as much as I do, it is simply a wonderful part of the world.
Find out more about Central Sardinia, the region of the island that Ingrid explored, by visiting our dedicated region guide page, crammed full of interesting and useful information about Sardinia.