VILLA MARIARTE, COSTA PARADISO, 9-16 Sept 06
This is a lovely two-bedroom apartment/villa to spend a week of Sardinian summer, set in truly amazing scenery. Costa Paradiso is a little town cunningly built with the contours of the land to blend in with the fantastic sculpted pink rocks and cliffs. Though most of the villas are probably holiday homes, you feel like it’s a village not a tourist development. It’s ideal for a couple, who might have children (there are one double bed and two singles, and one bathroom.) No air-con, but that wasn’t a problem for us. I recommend those plug-in anti-mosquito (zanzare) things that you can get from the supermarkets.
The apartment is modern and comfortable with lots of light and is spacious for two, with a rear patio to dry your clothes, barbecue, sunbathe etc and a front patio with great views where you can eat. It was very clean, as it should be considering the large cleaning charge! There are all the pots and plates you could need. There are only two TV channels in English, one news and the other pretty random, but we did not care – it was our honeymoon!
Mariano is very friendly and helpful and speaks great English. He lives a little way down the coast in Valledoria and pops by to clean the pool a couple of times a week or if you had any problems (we didn’t). The pool is lovely, right next to the macchia (the resinous scented rough scrub that grows everywhere) down a few steps with wonderful views of the sea and rocky cliffs, and a little diving board. It’s shared with about 5 other apartments but when we were there we were the only ones swimming.
If you like cats, there’s a family of sleek and friendly cats who run wild, eating whatever you will give them, but if you don’t feed them they won’t bother you. You can also toss your stale bread to the little wild pigs and their cute stripy piglets, who live in the macchia but will visit in the evening.
There are a few restaurants in the town, which you will need to drive to (5-10 minutes at most, though the roads are quite narrow so go slowly). The quality of food, wine and service is very high everywhere in Sardinia, and mostly a lot cheaper than in the UK. But you might want to barbecue at home some nights with sea bass from the fish-shop in town! There are several little shops to buy bread every day, fresh pasta, the famous bitter honey (corbellozo) etc, or coral souvenirs, and there are two supermarkets. For your morning cafe latte and cornetti, Bar Jolly’s is very nice, and so is Lino’s.
Costa Paradiso’s beach is small but truly beautiful, completely undeveloped, hidden in a cove backed by a little river winding back into the rocky hills, and with a crescent of soft sand. I’d really recommend getting a snorkel and a mask as there are loads of fish to check out, and once we even saw a huge yellow jellyfish-type thing about 20 m away underwater, that’s how clear it is. My prescription goggles made all the difference if you wear glasses. Also a beach umbrella, as it can be incredibly hot! The sea was warm in September. Most supermarkets sell them cheaply. The beach is reached only on foot along a beautiful winding rocky path with steps up and down through the cliffs (about 15 minutes). Get to the parking lot early though!
If you would rather swim directly off the fabulously scenic rocks along the coast, there are plenty of little coves easily accessible to snorkel off. If you want a giant beach then drive a half-hour along the coast road (either direction), or for shopping and wandering in the old town, Castelsardo is very nice as a daytrip. Inland you should see some of the many nuraghic ruins – weird and atmospheric.
But on the whole there is not a lot to do in the way of museums and such - this is a beach holiday with fabulous food and scenery. A little holiday italiano would be very helpful, as most of your fellow holidaymakers are mainland Italians and the Sards seem to speak very little English. We really only spoke English to each other and Mariano the whole week. The handiest phrases you’ll need are ‘Posso avere...?’ (may I have) and ‘Avete...?’ (do you have), besides normal greetings and words for food/days and times/open and closed etc. Also remember to keep your headlights on and dipped during the day. Enjoy!