Written by Missy Johnston
PORTO ROTONDO AREA, SARDINIA
It’s a tale of two countries, two islands, and two cultures, one Italian and the other French on a yacht charter cruising itinerary of northern Sardinia and southern Corsica. And in between the two larger islands, visit the smaller Italian Maddalena Islands and the French Lavezzi Islands, all on a crewed yacht charter of Sardinia and Corsica.
SARDINIA, BONAFACIO AND THE MADDALENA ISLANDS
Join your yacht at Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, separated from Corsica to the north by the 6-mile wide Strait of Bonifacio (10 km). After you have unpacked, head over to Cala di Volpe for your first night. Cala di Volpe is a deep shallow bay, well protected from the Mistral wind and is surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches.
Enjoy an early morning swim before breakfast and then take a short cruise down to Olbia. The city’s major cathedral is situated in the old town and is dedicated to St. Simplicio, bishop of Olbia, who was martyred under the Diocletian Emperor in the III century A.D. Olbia has also become famous because of the recent archaeological discovery of 24 shipwrecks – 2 of them from the age of Nero and 16 from the fifth century A.D. The remaining 6 come from the Judicial Period. The wrecks were found during the construction of the road’s new tunnel.
Only a few kilometers from Olbia is the Pedres Castle (Castello di Pedes). Its style of construction comes from the Judicial Period of the Visconti in Gallura. Another castle, Castello di Sa Paulazza, is situated on the small hill and is of Byzantine origin. It is square-shaped and has 4 corner towers in the area where an antique Nuraghe rose in the period when Emperor Giustiniano conquered Sardinia in 534 A.D. The stones from Nuraghe were used for the construction of the castle. Overnight.
A short cruise up the rugged eastern shore of the Costa Smeralda, will bring you in to Porto Cervo. The Aga Khan built a resort that takes full advantage of the rocky cliffs, protected beaches and stunning blue sea. Since then, the region has become one of the world’s most exclusive retreats. In town, the Stella Maris Church boasts the ‘Sad Madonna’ painted by El Greco. This Church is a modern whitewashed design created by the Roman architect, Michel Busiri Vici, who also created the grotto-design shopping arcade in the town centre containing lots of exclusive boutiques. Overnight.
A relaxed start to the day will have you in the Maddalena Island area, located inside the Straits of Bonifacio along the northeastern coast of Sardinia. Budelli, Caprera, Razzoli, Santa Maria, Santo Stefano and Spargi surround La Maddalena Island. This group of small rocky islands has been inhabited since prehistoric times. After lunch head over to Budelli, one of Italy’s most enchanting beaches that is famous for its pink sand produced by the coral shattered by the raging sea. Today, it is a highly protected island. The best mooring places are the almost deserted little beach of Cala d’Arena (south-eastern point) and the Spiaggia Rosa (Pink Beach). Overnight.
Enjoy a light breakfast before heading up towards Santa Maria for lunch and a swim. The characteristics of the town are the green of its grand trees, but above all the ancient olive trees that color the piazza and the slopes that rise up from the sea interrupted by the white of the church dating back to 1050 and by the imposing grey of the Spanish Tower guarding the bay and the beach. Head over to Bonifacio, the oldest town on the island of Corsica (French). Entering Bonifacio’s almost land-locked harbor is one of the most dramatic moments in sailing, as it opens magically before you revealing a totally protected harbor. For a thousand years, this ancient citadel town has defied gravity from her high perch on the edge of a chalk peninsular that guards the southernmost tip of the island. Enjoy dinner in one of the excellent seafood restaurants ashore. Overnight.
After breakfast take a short cruise over to Lavezzi for lunch and a swim. This dreamy archipelago only has one lighthouse and two cemeteries where the 750 crew of the Semillante are buried, a boat which sank in 1855. The island’s coves are a favorite with boat-lovers and its fine sandy beaches offer a taste of paradise. After touring, head for Santa Tereza di Gallura. Make plans to spend some time here wandering amongst the huge sandstone “animals,” natural formations that closely resemble elephants, rhinos, hippos and water buffalo. Take a walk on one of the many glorious white sandy beaches. Overnight.
An early cruise will have you head down to Cala Yacca to anchor for lunch and a swim. Continue on through the Fornelli Passage, passing by the Island of Asinara, a penal settlement. Arrive in the afternoon at the flourishing fishing port of Alghero. It consists of a picturesque and well-preserved old town enclosed in a stout girdle of walls, outside of which the new town sports a grid of parallel streets filled with hotels and restaurants. The town is very Spanish in flavor having been invaded by Pedro IV of Aragon in 1354. The narrow cobbled streets of the old town are lined with flamboyant churches and wrought-iron balconies, boutiques and cafes, as well as the workshops of craftsmen working the famed coral of Alghero. Around the town the coast offers many secluded bays, small inlets bordered by pine forests and high, jagged cliffs washed by the emerald green sea. Inland luxuriant vineyards produce some of the most aromatic wines on the island. Overnight.