With its turquoise sea and golden beaches, Sardinia attracts holidaymakers from all over Europe. Moreover, for lots of people, the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea is best known for the Emerald Coast. Here, during the 60s, the Arab Prince Aga Khan IV created the Costa Smeralda Consortium, which made the North-east corner of Sardinia very, very expensive.
Of course, the sea is the soul of Sardinia and without doubt, the VIP vibe of “Costa Smeralda” is sparkling and fun. Nevertheless, there are some wonderful locations in the North of the Island, as well as some small boutique hotels, which are ideal if you wish to escape the crowds and the glamorous atmosphere of the jet-set. In fact in Sardinia there are a thousand hidden shores and many ways to experience and enjoy all facets of the Island. Sardinia is indeed one of the Italian regions where you can find everything almost all year around. From cultural sights to beautiful beaches; from amazing natural parks to a strong wine and food tradition. This is the reason why I usually suggest adding my beautiful Sardinia to your dream bucket list.
Let me introduce you to my favorite lesser-known places in North Sardinia: San Pantaleo and Palau. They are both charming, quiet and not-too-expensive seaside destinations, but characterized by their proximity to the most famous tourist resorts. In my opinion, what really makes these Sardinian destinations exclusive, is that you can combine their typical slow and relaxing lifestyle with the vibrant social life of the near Porto Cervo.
Set among the typical granite rocks of Northern Sardinia, the small village of San Pantaleo was built in the early nineteenth century by the inhabitants of the stazzi (traditional farmhouses). Only during the 70s, thanks to its hidden location dominating the Costa Smeralda, it became a renowned destination among artists, painters and sculptors, who moved here attracted by the peace and quiet as well as by the beauty of its wild landscapes.
One cannot talk about San Pantaleo without mentioning its good food, its rural churches and the Rena Bianca beach, definitely one of the most beautiful in Sardinia. Located only 12 kms far from Porto Cervo, San Pantaleo offers a relaxing holiday without giving up a little shopping in the famous Piazzetta or an aperitif in its luxury Yacht Club.
What to taste
- Puligioni: ravioli with cheese flavored with sugar cinnamon
- Acciuleddi: fried dough dipped in honey and then in orange zest
- A glass of ice cold Vermentino Wine
Where to sleep
Palau is a lively and modern town situated on the scenic North-Eastern coast of Sardinia, facing the Island of Maddalena. It boasts a unique coastline, artistically shaped by the wind. The headland of Capo d’Orso (Bear Cape), which ends in a huge rock sculpted by the wind into a what resembles the silhouette of a bear.
Among its wind-sheltered beaches, you should not miss “Palau Vecchio” and “Sciumara” beaches, both awarded with a “Blue Flag” in 2012. The beauty of its beaches is enhanced by its wild olive trees and secular junipers, and by the fascinating charm of the little town, where you can enjoy a stroll along the evening street-market and the exceptional panorama of La Maddalena Archipelago. Finally, Palau is the only embarkation point for the Maddalena Archipelago and is located less than 30 kms far from Porto Cervo. So, during the same holiday, you can pamper yourself in the quiet atmosphere of Palau, book a mini cruise around the most paradisiacal beaches of Sardinia and enjoy the exciting nightlife of Porto Cervo.
What to taste
Palau is part of Gallura subregion, so you can find all the typical recipes originate in the Stazzo society such as: the “Zuppa Gallurese”, based on stale bread dipped in meat broth, enriched with pecorino cheese and herbs.
- Sebadas or Seadas: honey brushed fried pastry with a soft pecorino cheese heart.
Where to Sleep
Silvia Pe: Born in 1982, the boundaries of her island Sardinia sometimes feel a little too tight, making her travel all across Europe; nonetheless she graduated with Honors and she came home. Silvia speaks English and Spanish, yet no language as good as her mother tongue Italian.
Compulsive reader, sea-dependent and a geek inside; lover of caps and hats, as if they were a way to keep your thoughts, ideas and dreams warm.
In 2010 she found the job of her life, working on the web and within the Italian world of travel for CharmingItaly.com