Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Costa Smeralda and North Eastern Sardinia

The Costa Smeralda and North Eastern Sardinia
North East Sardinia is home to the Costa Smeralda, a long stretch of white powder-sand beaches, crystal clear water and chic resorts. Away from the coast, the lush macchia and granite-covered hillsides spill down to traditional market towns and hidden coves.

The Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, is a stretch of 10km situated between the bay of Arzachena and the Gulf of Cugnana and is perhaps the best-known part of Sardinia. Resorts such as Porto Cervo or Porto Rotondo have been built with strict planning controls that have ensured that they blend in well with the natural surroundings. As a result, the Costa Smeralda remains outstandingly beautiful. It was chosen by the Aga Khan for its picture-book coastline of bays of white sand and turquoise sea, sheltered by rocky headlands.
The shops at Porto Cervo

As the main resort on the Costa Smeralda and a paradise for the jet set, Porto Cervo is definitely worth a visit. Set in the heart of the resort and lined with caf├ęs, bars and restaurants, the piazzetta is the perfect spot to lounge in style, the place to see and be seen in! An evening stroll along the quay is also a must, with fashionable designer boutiques, including Accademia Firenze’s shop, and luxury yachts on the other. In the summer, there is a series of sporting events, including regattas and golf tournaments.
The Market at San Pantaleo

If you move away from the coast, you will be rewarded with a variety of historical sites and local villages, offering a glimpse of Sardinian culture. Tucked in amongst the mountains, San Pantaleo is a rare traditional Galluran village, and one of the prettiest on the island. With its stone-built cottages, charming square and relaxed atmosphere, many artists have been inspired to come to live here. If experiencing the real Sardinian way of life is what you are looking for, then spend an evening in the piazza watching the world go by.

A little further north is Arzachena, a local market town, which has become an important centre for shops and services. Several important prehistoric archeological sites lie around the town including the Albucciu Nuraghe, the Tomba dei Giganti Coddu Vecchiu and the Li Muri Necropolis. Dotted along the bay of Arzachena, there is a choice of attractive coves and sandy beaches backed by pine trees or rocky headlands, including the popular resort of Cannigione.
La Maddalena

On the extreme north eastern tip of the island is Palau, a lively small town with a good number of shops, bars and restaurants. From here, take a ferry or a boat trip across to the archipelago of La Maddalena, a cluster of spectacular islands characterised by clear waters, secluded beaches, a rugged coastline and macchia vegetation – a real paradise for swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers. It is also a favourite sailing area for yachters, and has a number of regattas throughout the year.

Further away and to the west is Isola Rossa. Once an attractive fishing village, now a lively small resort, it has two very good sandy beaches, plenty of shops, bars and restaurants, and good access to the mountainous countryside of the northern interior.

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