Slow food and hiking guide to Sardinia #2
A few weeks back I posted a Slow Food and Hiking Guide to Sardinia part 1. Forthwith is the rest of it. Sing out if you need any other tips. I’m forthcoming, mostly.
Sardinia is an intriguing place. You’ll like it. But, as I always advise, it’s always best to make your adventure your own. And to not over plan. I’ve shared my thoughts on travel here before.
So, we left off at Gavoi in the mountains. I then drove over to the West Coast. I kinda liked it more over this side. It felt a bit more genuine, and the towns were both less touristy and more alive. The food scene was a bit more robust, too.
A fabulous little seaside town – population eight thousand – known for it’s agriculture and fishing. I stayed 10km out of town at Tresnarragus, at Villa Gli Asfodeli Hotel Tresnuraghes. Why? The place is a bike hotel… and, it turned out, a super friendly place to boot. It’s a big old building with sloping floors and grand windows, an amazing buffet breakfast and with a pool. It’s perched in the middle of the village square, but with an outlook over the fields and the ocean.
In Bosa, make sure you check out the Cantina Malvasia – a wine cave where you can taste the DOCG wine along with, wait for it, dark chocolate filled with pecorino cheese and bottarga (the famous mullet roe from the region). I also loved the Restaurant Borgo Sant’lgnazio just around the corner from the Cantina. Very authentic food and you sit out in the cobblestoned street to eat. I ate catfish cooked in sugo.
Near Tresneragghus is Trattoria da Riccardo in Magomados. This place rates really highly in Slow Food circles. It’s a small suburban place with flouro lights and the family works on the floor. I ate eel with pecorino. Phenomenal and honest.
A bike ride to Alghero
Day two in Bosa I hired a bike at Villa Gli Asfodeli Hotel Tresnuraghes and rode 75km into the hills to Villanova Monteleone and Montresta, funny little towns with Greek heritages and the most amazing views back down over the coast. The ride back down to Alghero was exhilarating. I was a mute non-human by the time I arrived. I just don’t have the stamina like I used to. My hashimotos leaves me with lung capacity and some muscle strength, but little juice. I have to draw on reserves to get over hills. I very much concentrated on just looking down and using my mental strength. It’s a choice I make.
This is a stunning port town with a lovely old village that pumps with tourists… but nice ones, if you know what I mean. You can fly in here direct from a stack of European cities, so the place has a very lively feel and the mob seems more mature. Not a back-packer joint. Perhaps a few too many Scandi honeymooners. I loved Cafe Latino in the mornings with a view over the port. The locals seem to go here to read the papers.
And one of my favourite eateries on my entire trip was La Botteghina…which somehow reminded me of Ciccolina’s in Melbourne – run by women, a bohemian feel and totally green (everything is locally sourced and – my goodness, yes! – they don’t served bottled water!!!). I ate black wild risotto with prawns and Alghero pear followed by calamari with vegetables (my goodness, yes! spinach) and was in absolute heaven, sitting at my tiny table for one, reading my book. And, yes, drinking, Cannonau once again.
I stayed at BnB “El Buric” di Mario Galasso e Fiorella Cieri with Mario, the head of the Slow Food movement here. You can find his place on Air BnB.
Get him to direct you to his favourite restaurant Su Recrue, the only place in Sardinia with a “snail” rating. It’s a 30 minute drive out of town in Camedda near Ittari and worth a trip to Europe just to go here. Indeed, it’s probably my favourite eatery in Sardinia. The Demontis family run the place – Mum Piera and son in the kitchen, Dad Gavino and daughters out front. Unlike a lot of places over summer, Su Recrue cook up their own suckling pigs (Mario tells me the bulk of restaurants actually have to import their pigs from elsewhere in Italy and Europe to keep up with demand for the speciality). We ate pegora – mutton – stew cooked in myrtle and white wine, favatta (cauliflower and fava pureed with lard) and lamb ragu with zucchini flowers. Oh, and fresh ricotta with almonds and pears. They make their own sourdough and their own gluten-free pasta! Lunch went for five hours and afterwards I met their snuggling ponies. And the pigs. And the goats. Seriously, this place is the real deal. Go! A memorable moment was sitting back after the long lunch in comfortable silence while Mario played the piano accordian. The restaurant – full of locals on a Monday lunch – was in the same place of ….accord.
Here are a few other restaurants you might want to check out in Alghero:
- Al Tuguri via Maiorca 113 which does vegetarian food really well
- Il Pavone Piazza Sulis
After riding back to Bosa (55km along the coast and stopping at a few beaches on the way) I then headed back inland (by car). I made the windy journey to this divine little town perched on the side of a mountain (as most little towns in Sardinia are). I came for Antica dimora del Gruccione, a 17th century palazzo of creaking floors, marble staircases and incredible bowerbird style in the middle of the town renowned for its chef Roberto who cooks fixed menu meals from his tiny kitchen in the courtyard. His partner Lucilla and her mother run this place. It’s been in the family for something like 300 years. Lucilla’s mum is regarded as one of Sardinia’s leading hiking experts. She’s written a number of guides which are just beautiful (with all the flora noted). You might want to consider travelling here if you’re Sardinia, even just for two days. You might want to consider travelling here if you’re in Europe…it’s the most magical experience. FYI – a number of Australian food tours head here specifically to try Roberto’s food (Maeve Meara et al and the team from Pilu in Sydney). I ate here both nights…Sard carbonara (made with old bread, egg sand smoked pecorino), zucchini with cazu, a red beef tartare with honey.
FInally, I headed North, back up to the airport area near Olbia. This area is a bit too razzle-dazzle for me. Some rich Arab developed the place in the 1970s. And you can tell. However, I found the most stunning little sanctuary, just a 15 minutes drive from it all…
Is up in the hills above Porto Cervo. It boasts a dynamic artist community and there’s a very fun market on Thursdays. I loved this village. It’s got a little square with gorgeous cafes dotted around it. Each night I took a Campari and olives at the cafe on the square.
This place is luxe on a ledge… that looks out over the Costa Smeralda. It’s a 2km drive from San Pantaleo – just far enough to be away from it all, but close enough to walk into town in the evening past horses and rocky landscape glowing pink in the setting sun. It’s one of those places where some folk just don’t leave the side of the pool.
Please note: I’m an ambassador with MrandMrsSmith and I am invited to try out their properties from time to time for review purposes. I got my stay 33% off. The opinions in this post are my own.
As an aside, I’m a judge for the Best Smith Hotel Awards for 2013. Vote for your favourite hotel (you don’t have to have stayed there – you might just like the look of it and some of the information on it) by October 9 and be in the draw to win a five-night stay at the winning hotel.
The restaurant – Il Fuoco Sacro Restaurant – is frequented by a lot of people from outside the hotel and is known for it’s higher end style (which is hard to find in Sardinia). And the breakfast here is phenomenal.
Some more suggestions West-side
Giovanni from Pilu at Freshwater (where the IQS team had our celebration lunch recently) kindly shared some extra foodie places you might want to check out…
- L’Antica Hostaria Via Cavour 55 – Sassari.
- Agriturismo ‘Casteddu’ Str.S,Teodoro – Padru.
- Gallura corso Umberto 145 (in hotel of the same name on the main street of town).
Don’t miss this city if you are in Sardinia. It is big, beautiful and very historic.
- Antico Caffe. Go here every day for great coffee, pastries & panini – very quaint with plenty of locals.
- Outside of Cagliari – S’apposentu, one of Sardinia’s best restaurants and run by a good friend of mine, Roberto Petza.
- Santadi Winery. Very important southern Sardinian winery, specializing in Carignano.
- The town of Oristano is worth the drive to visit Contini winery in Cabras about half an hour out of Oristano. Their cellar door is really well set up and you might be able to taste some of the old Vernaccia from the ancient barrels, they are lovely people. Try and visit a Bottarga farm whilst here!
- Hotel Lucrezia (Oristano). Cannot recommend this little paradise enough – in a town just outside Oristano (perfect for visiting Contini winery ) it is great value and a perfect place to have a day out and rest..
- Vini Contini, Via Genova. An absolute must to visit if you love wine.
- Ristorante La Gritta. Fine dining restaurant perched on a hill, overlooking the ocean – one of our favourites.
- Delfino Azzurro – accommodation
Phew! That’s a wrap of Sardinia. Feel free to ask questions below, if you’re heading there any time soon. I’ll do my best to help.