For those who are not familiar with Sardinia or with the Costa Smeralda, we wish to give an idea of this wonderful place with a few comments and photographs.
Firstly, Sardinia is not, as is often said, "somewhere in the Costa Smeralda", but it is the other way round. In fact the Costa Smeralda has become very well known in the world for its exclusivity and is erroniously thought to be a place reserved for millionaires. It is a place for those who love an extraordinarily beautiful natural environment and appreciate an intelligent and efficient organisation of the area for man's use, without disturbing the harmony of the landscape.
Sardinia lies right in the middle of the Mediterranean and is Italian, whereas the island of Corsica which is just four miles across the water, is French. Incidentally, having a French island nearby makes for an enjoyable boat cruise from Sardinia. The other islands, that form part of the archipelago, that you see on the way are quite something. There are about thirty islands of various sizes to visit, within an hours travel by power boat from Porto Cervo, the capital of the Costa Smeralda. Sail-boat enthusiasts will find this to be probably the best sailing water in the whole world. In fact many international regattas are held here, efficiently organised by the Costa Smeralda Yacht Club.
The main attraction, however is the sea itself. Because of its position in the centre of the Mediterranean, Sardinia has the cleanest and most transparent sea around and the granite based sand reflects unique emerald colours that inspired the name Costa Smeralda ("Emerald Coast"). There are innumerable sandy beaches and small rocky coves, accessible only with a boat, enabling one always to find a secluded place for sun-bathing and snorkeling.
When the Aga Khan first saw these shores in 1959, he made a long term investment, of at least 50 years, ensuring a high quality summer resort with all the proper infrastructure, roads, water, electricity, sewage treatment, communications, marina, boat-yard, hotels, golf and sporting facilities. He employed the finest architects to create the Master Plan, covering all the territory and the whole development from A to Z. No other project maker would have been so ambitious, as short-term profits are normally the rule.
The results are there to see and must be seen to fully appreciate the excellent work achieved. Many government officials have actually been sent from other countries to seek advice on how to undertake resort developments back home. The Pevero Golf Course, 18 holes, was designed by Robert Trent-Jones and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. From each green there are absolutely breath-taking views of the sea at Cala di Volpe, on one side and of the Pevero Bay on the other.
There are two other golf courses planned by the Aga Khan on the Costa Smeralda and when carried out will make it a golfers paradise. To own a home in this unique place is not difficult, there are in fact many foreigners from all over the world who own a home here; there are even some Australian property owners who come all the way each year to enjoy the Sardinian waters. It is not necessarily more expensive either as there are various types of properties to suit all pockets.
The ideal situation is to own a home and a fast boat, not necessarily a large one but sufficient to carry you quickly to the islands. If you are a devout sailer then a sail-boat will give you a lot of satisfaction. Porto Cervo Marina gives excellent mooring possibilities and the maintenance service is tops.
Now a few words on Sardinia in general; this island is considered by the afficionados as being a tiny continent. The reason is that it has a large variation of geografical characteristics, all enclosed in a relatively small area. Within a mere four hours driving from Porto Cervo, you can visit so many extraordinary places that make you feel that you are jumping from the Seychelles, to the African desert, to Australia's beeches, the USA and then, as if in a magical time machine, back to prehistoric times.
Sardinia is also rich in history, which is presently being rewritten with new excavations carried out by a group of Dutch archeologists, pushing the dates back several millenia. A visit to this "lost valley" in the Ogliastra, called Lainaittu, is highly recommended as there are many exciting things to see: the anciently inhabited caves of Sa Oche, Těscali and the Nuragic bronze foundary, only just discovered.
In the Dorgali area there are also many beautiful sites to be seen: the sea caves of the Bue Marino, the exceptional beach of Cala di Luna and the surrounding mountains and gorges (Su Goroppu), offering an enchanting, uncontaminated scenery.
A trip right around the island is also recommended, the sites worth visiting are endless: the Phonecian city on the sea, Tharros, the crystal sands of Is Arutas, the flamingos on the lakes of Oristano, the enormous sand dunes of the Arbus coast-line, the island of San Pietro, the natural rock sculptures of Capo Testa etc.
All of this is available in just one or two hours flight from most European cities and is found in a very friendly and hospitable country.
Once you have your home in Sardinia, you will enjoy your holidays for many, many years to come.
Copyright L. Camillo 2000