Like a light at night attracting pretty things Costa Smeralda attracts gorgeous human life to its crystal clear waters, millionaire yachted marinas, exclusive restaurants and clubs. It’s high season, like butterflies, short but beautiful. So before things get too crazy – Mr G and I head to the North Eastern tip of Sardinia to check out what all the fuss is about.
I am sitting on my terracotta terrace in a deliciously comfy chair, eating petit fours of almond biscuits looking down at our private swimming pool overlooking a slightly bigger one, the Tyrrhenian Sea. The impossibly blue bay is carpeted by greenery from the roof gardens of the villas below creating a blissful blended oasis. The hill to my left has 3 communications antennas but Mr G is telling me these are the masts to the 5th most expensive yacht in the world owned by a Russian billionaire and the app tells us its just done Nice-Monaco-Nice- Porto Cervo loop.
Pitrizza is a legendary hotel nestled into the hillside which has the advantage of keeping you really fit and making you question do you really need to go down to the bar for that negroni? Its more private club than hotel. Golf buggy’s zoom up and down the hillside, and one look at the car park tells me that the Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley mean we are in good company.
A ‘suite’ is here is terribly understated, It’s a villa with its own garage, flagstone steps and entrance hall. To our right is a gorgeous bedroom all flint-stoned up with Cindy Crawford soft curves and alcoves painted with books. The king-size bed is in fact king sized up again and everywhere the views are brought into the villa with a veranda off the bedroom a terrace table off the lounge and of course the unmissable views from the lounge out to sea. The spa bath is so tempting that whilst Mr G snoozes off his jet lag on the sofa, I am listening to mood songs on Spotify as bath salts provide a lullaby I just never find time for at a home.
Sardinia has a different rhythm which includes a siesta so most things are shut between 12 and 4pm, so planning is crucial this includes dining!
Dinner at Pitrizza will go down in my all-time dining Top 10. We are transported to a time gone-by where black suited waiters of ‘a certain age’ zoom around like worker bees doing a private dance to ensure harmony better than honey. First courses of pasta are prepared in front of us by our waiter who lovingly divides spaghetti with clams and ravioli with seafood. Mains of spring chicken and veal are treated in the same manner creating an olfactory experience lost in a world of kitchens. For dessert, Peddro, (head waiter and George Clooney to our own lake Como by the sea), presides over Crepe Suzette. We are salivating as all ingredients are laid out in front of us, a copper burner is lit then the whoosh of the flame and noise is all part of the excitement.
The next day we drive south along the coast to the boundary of where Costa Smeralda, starts -Porto Rotondo, home to super yachts. We spin north dropping into impossibly pretty beaches of Liscia Ruja and Spiaggia Capriccioli with its good-looking rock formations. Sun loungers are already filling up.
Whilst its hard to drag ourselves from pearl white sands, we reach Nuraghe La Prisgiona in Azachena. These impressive stone structures and conical towers were created in the bronze age 17th Century BC. Amazing to wander around a village where elders met, discussed politics, religion and magic.
We transfer along the headland to Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu meaning hidden port. It’s a stunner as the low rise white building sweeps around a panoramic swimming pool hugged by a marina. Its got a youthful vibe; the music is playing, cocktails are being served and loungers are packed with designer sunglass couples and groups of friends. Our Classic Suite has a side terrace with views onto a water and hillside. Sandy tones and terracotta tiles give it a homely feel as does the welcome cooler of sparkling wine in our lounge room. The sun is setting and the beautiful arched white dining room of Maymon comes alive. Our degustation dinner is matched with wines as we move from tuna carpaccio with slices of Sardinian truffle and crispy pork skin paired with the ‘champagne of Sardinia’ a Franca Contea Saten. Tonnarelli pasta with sweet red prawns, salmon confit with fennel on a bed of tapioca and peas followed by a decadent chocolate fondant is rounded off with a drinks trolley of aperitifs, rums and desert wines.
On our last day we drive across the northern tip to Santa Teresa di Gallura walking up the headland to the main fort. From here just a few kilometres east lies beaches of La Marmorta and Rena Maiore to the west surrounded by bushy pines. The main piazza is a heartbeat of community. Old men shout at each other from across tables, groups drink, eat gelato and share pasta from big communal dishes. Younger things smoke and look pretty.
In a country known for its love of meat, we spend our last night at the uber glamorous Churrascaria Porto Cervo. It’s impossibly romantic terraced location drops down into multiple levels amongst olive trees and a restored wine cellar and bar from 1865. Skewers of over 12 cuts of meat from Noble Picanha baby beef to Crispy suckling pig belly are glowing from the flames. We start with Laurent Perrier overlooking their herb and vegetable garden with sea views. Mr G is in carnivore heaven and I opt for the seafood menu kicking off with 5 juicy red prawns in their shells on a rock salt bed followed by grilled salmon. Service is silky. In a few weeks this place will be pumping till 2am. For now we sit in silence reflecting on our memories of Sardinia and feel very lucky we been able to enjoy its peace, beauty and hospitality.