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Car hire is expensive in Sardinia so we only had a car for 24 hours and we planned to make the most of it.
Isola Rossa, Sardinia
Our first stop was to find the castle-like turret we could see in the next bay from our beach. The turret was not actually a castle but a lookout tower- Torre Spagnola in Isola Rossa. Isola Rossa is a little town with a marina and a few beach front cafes. We stopped for a caffe and tiramisu on the seafront (yes we had tiramisu at brunch! Rich was desperate for one and it was the first time we had seen one on the menu!) before heading around the coast to find the “castle”.
Dating back to around 1595 the Torre Spagnola Isola Rossa was built to protect this section of coastline from pirates! And as the risk of pirate raids decreased it was used as a lookout to limit clandestine travel from Corsica to Sardinia. It’s no longer in use but the views from the it’s rocky base are worth stopping for. The rugged mountains around the coastline shine orange in the sun and the sea sparkles turquoise.
Santa Teresa Gallura, Sardinia
The beach on this little bay was packed and the white sand was covered in brightly colour umbrellas. It seems that everyone brings their own brightly coloured brolly to the beach and, once I got over the fact that it spoilt the white sand/ blue sea seascape I was hoping for, I actually quite liked the colourful effect they created.
Santa Teresa also has a Torre Spagnola but this one was higher up the mountainside and I didn’t fancy joining the many tourists hiking up the rock face to get a selfie with the brilliant blue sea and Corsica just 9miles away in the background. We already had quite a climb ahead of us to get back up the hillside to the car in the town!
I would imagine the little town comes alive at night but after lunch, as everywhere else in Sardinia is between 1 and 3 the town was very quiet.
Following the car’s satnav to an intriguing looking spit we somehow ended up on an unpaved road wondering where on earth we were headed. The hairy off-roading brought us to a tiny little bay called Spiaggia Santa Reparata, surrounded by rock pools and boulders to climb, packed with locals. Served by a tiny cafe offering ice creams, a dusty car park and a portaloo it was the perfect end to our day out. We had to drag the kids out of the water to get them home for dinner.
After dinner we decided to get the most out of our car hire and head out again. This time heading west for 20 minutes to Castelsardo. The town is on a hill and the girls were enthralled with the view of the town twinkling in the night as we wound round the mountainside towards it.
We parked right up by the castle and walked through the pedestrianised area. Castelsardo is an absolute gem and exactly how I imagined a typical Sardinian town to be at night. Live music, gelato shops and restaurants with punters spilling out into the tiny cobbled streets. Elderly ladies selling their handmade wares, and calling the children ‘bella’ – it was every Italian stereotype I could have wanted! I loved it!!
You can go inside the castle and see the medieval weaponry but the kids were a bit freaked out by it all. The towering old stone building felt like it would fall down at any moment and the weapons in the entrance were the final straw. They couldn’t go in!
Instead, we ate gelato, and of course I had to buy something from the little old lady who was sat outside her shop weaving baskets. She was just so lovely!
Driving around Northern Sardinia is actually fairly easy.
It takes a long time to get from place to place but navigating is simple and parking isn’t a problem. The one time we should have paid for parking and didn’t (we didn’t realise!), we returned to the car to a ticket with a QR code letting us know how to pay the €1 fee. Way nicer than the typical parking ticket you’d get in England!
The beaches were all very busy which surprised me. I don’t know if it’s normally this busy or whether there were a lot of domestic tourists there this year due to Covid travel restrictions.
I wish we had managed to get a little further, perhaps taken a boat out to explore the Maddalena archipelago and reached Costa Smeralda. Being based in Badesi at Le Dune Resort & Spa meant it was all just a little too far away. The perfect reasons to go back to Sardinia though right?
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