Written by Missy Johnston
Porto Rotundo, Sardinia
Join your yacht in Porto Rotondo, Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, separated from Corsica to the north by the 6-mile wide Strait of Bonifacio. Cruise to Cala di Volpe Bay 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. Perhaps head ashore for a drink at the Cala di Volpe Hotel.
Enjoy an early morning swim before breakfast and then take a short cruise 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 due to the recent archaeological discovery of 24 shipwrecks – 2 of them from the age of Nero, 16 from the fifth century A.D., and the remaining 6 from the Judicial Period. Only a few kilometers from Olbia is the Pedres Castle (Castello di Pedres). 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. Overnight.
It is a short cruise up the rugged eastern shore of the Costa Smeralda to Porto Cervo. The Aga Khan built this resort coastline to take 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. Head ashore to explore Porto Cervo. 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 center filled with exclusive boutiques. Overnight.
After a relaxed breakfast, cruise to the Maddalena Islands, 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. There are a myriad of lovely anchorages from which to choose to enjoy swimming, and fun in the sun. Budelli is home to one of Italy’s most enchanting beaches that is famous for its pink sand produced by coral shattered by the raging seas. The best mooring places are the almost deserted little beach of Cala d’Arena and Spiaggia Rosa (Pink Beach). Overnight.
Enjoy a light breakfast before heading to Santa Maria for lunch and a swim. The town on shore is notable for the ancient olive trees around the piazza. On the slopes that rise up from the sea is a beautiful white church dating back to 1050 and an imposing grey Spanish Tower guarding the bay and the beach. After lunch cruise 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 yachting, as on approach the white chalk cliffs open magically revealing a totally protected harbor. For a thousand years, this Bonifacio Old Town has defied gravity balancing on a high perch on the edge of a chalk cliff – a walled medieval village that guarded the southernmost tip of the island. Enjoy dinner in one of the excellent seafood restaurants ashore. Overnight.
Lavezzi Island Sunrise
After breakfast take a short cruise over to the Lavezzi Islands 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 boaters with fine sandy beaches and lovely water. Cruise to Santa Tereza di Gallura. Spend 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 Leave early to cruise 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 in the flourishing fishing port of Alghero, consisting of a picturesque and well-preserved old town enclosed in a stout girdle of walls, surrounded by the new town with 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 flamboyantly decorated churches, 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.