The Costa Smeralda - Lifestyle Authority Of The Mediterranean
One fact sums up Sardinia’s enduring allure: it’s barely changed since the Aga Khan first clapped eyes on the Costa Smeralda in 1959. The coastline really does shine emerald as swaying palms reflect onto sandy-bottomed shallows. His Highness planned his yacht harbour, Porto Cervo, for the long-term. It’s a low-rise-big-smiles marina where sailors can eat gelati in their Havaianas - as a billion Euros worth of boats float out front. “We decided we had to be very careful,” said the Aga Khan in an interview 55 years ago, “because if not the place would simply become another ugly, over-crowded tourist centre.”
South from Porto Cervo the beaches are named after a golden heydey. Spiaggia Ira takes its moniker from Ira von Fürstenberg, an aristocrat-actress born into the Agnelli clan. Spiaggia del Principe was christened in honour of the Aga Khan. Spiaggia Shirley Bassey was a favourite of the Welsh singer famed for her hits Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever. By coincidence James Bond himself raced a Lotus Esprit down this 20-beach coastline in The Spy Who Loved Me. After exploring the seabed in his Lotus Esprit, 007 called in for cocktails at the Hotel Cala di Volpe. The establishment still welcomes sailors with one of the Mediterranean’s largest swimming pools, plus a new sushi bar by Nobu Matsuhisa.
For stunning views, take a trek to Tavolara’s 565m summit
Tavolara Island goes further back in time. This 5km-long massif rises in a cloud of juniper and mastic trees. The rich setting includes two giant sandbars. These powder soft peninsulas wash into a cerulean sea, where bottlenose dolphins hunt bluefin tuna. It’s so regal that young adventurer Paolo Bertoleoni declared himself monarch of Tavolara in 1861. His descendent, ‘King Antonio’, now rules over 11 islanders and runs the Da Tonino seafood restaurant while his niece, ‘Princess Maddalena’, owns a tiny beach bar. For royally good views ask an islander to lead the six-hour trek to Tavolara’s 565m summit. Due north the beaches of the Costa Smeralda shimmer like white diamonds displayed upon green velvet.
Yacht chartering, the perfect way to discover the pure beauty of the island of Sardinia
Looking for a unique place to experience the true beauty of yachting in Sardinia? One 17km-long island is new to the superyacht scene. Midway between Sardinia and Corsica, Asinara was a penal colony, then a maximum security Mafia prison, before becoming a National Park in 1997. It has literally never been formally inhabited and maintains a census population of just 1. Visitors who arrive by tender disembark into a Jurassic Park of lentisk and juniper trees. Some of Asinara’s beaches are look-don’t-touch, like the Tahiti sands of Cala d’Arena. More action-packed is a don’t-look-down hike to Punta Scomunica along tracks packed with mouflon sheep and feral donkeys.
US-born, Italian-raised Kathryn Tomasetti authors travel stories from around the world, including France, Croatia, Turkey and her native northern Italy. Her features and photos – from as far afield as China, Syria and Chile – have appeared in numerous travel publications, including National Geographic and The Guardian.