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Sardinian holidays: discovering Olbia and San Teodoro
Olbia is a cute city with about 60.000 inhabitants that grew due to tourism after Emerald Coast birth. It is surrounded by wonderful beaches and very close to very popular Summer destinations such as Porto Rotondo and Golfo Aranci.
Olbia is also the most important city of Gallura, a historic region in the northeast of Sardinia. Even if its administrative center is Tempio Pausania, Olbia remains the most important city with its port and airport connected with many European cities during most of the year.
San Teodoro is just 25 km from Olbia and is the Gallura south boundary. Its astonishing beaches surely helped this village to grow considerably during the last 30 years, passing from a really small, quite and low populated village during winter to a famous Summertime destination for all kind of tourists. It’s perfect for walks through the local shops, also a place where you can find many kinds of restaurants and bars and it’s also where the most known night clubs are located.
DAY 1 – SEA AND CITY TOUR
Arrival at Olbia airport – Costa Smeralda. A few steps to your right you find the car rental terminal, where you can pick your car (always better to make a reservation, as it is very difficult to find an available car during high season). While waiting for the check in time, just go for a plunge in the most popular beach of Olbia, Pittulongu. Even if it can be crowd during high season, its sea is always transparent blue and very inviting. There are three bar-restaurants along the beach where you can drink, eat and rent beach chair and umbrella.
In the evening, just park the car at Molo Brin in Olbia and walk along the Corso Umberto, where amongst stands and shops you can really smell vacation atmosphere.
About half way, you can turn to your right, on via Cagliari, and visit San Paolo Apostolo church that is supposed to be from low-medieval times. The church has a dome you can easily see amongst the historic center as it is covered with colored majolica from the after-war period.
Going ahead on Corso Umberto, at a certain point you will meet a railroad. Turn right and visit San Simplicio Basilica, the most important religious monument of the northeast Sardinia.
Back to the parking, you can visit the National Archaeological Museum (or Sea Museum), where you can see testimonials of the story of the old city, from dark ages to the XIX century, with special attention to roman and medieval wrecks found in the old port. As Olbia was the only city that have been occupied by Greeks, its name originates from the Greek “happy” that referred to the opportunities already offered by the city for human settlement.
It’s time to go to the hotel you have chosen, take a bath and go for a walk in San Teodoro. Shops, stands, bars and restaurants will make this walk a relaxing time.
DAY 2 – SEA DAY
Wake up with Sardinian rhythms, with a bit of laziness as you’re on vacation. Have breakfast and go to one of the most known beaches of San Teodoro area, Cala Brandinchi. It is also known as Tahiti and as soon as you’ll see it, you’ll understand why it is called this way. Low sea bottom and unique colors. Stunning also during Springtime and Autumn, when the low tide allows small atolls of white sand that come out from the blue crystal water.
If you want to know another beach, just go towards south (even by foot) and you’ll be in Lu Impostu beach. It’s difficult to say which is the most beautiful. If you walk until the south end of Lu Impostu and look backwards, the sight of the beach is really unique.
In the evening, time for a shower in the hotel and eat in one of the many agritourism (local typical restaurants that serve local food) in Padru, just a few kilometers from San Teodoro. They will offer you many starters made with seasonal vegetables, local cold cuts, then the zuppa gallurese (local dish prepared with bread, broth, cheese and tomato sauce), ravioli, roasted pork and finish with seada, a Sardinian sweet with cheese covered with honey. All served with local wine. Just pay attention to mirto, the liquor they serve at the end, as it is very pleasant to drink and it’s difficult to refuse.
DAY 3 – SAN TEODORO AND OLBIA’S MUSSELS
After the great dinner it’s normal to wake up late. Just have breakfast and go to the beach La Cinta, in San Teodoro. It is a crystal blue sea beach that pleases all. In front of the large parking there are a bar and who rents beach chair and umbrellas. It is pretty crowd and if you prefer a more quite place, just walk to your left and you’ll find a quite desert beach. You can also rent a rubber boat or a paddle boat.
An interesting alternative is to take a boat trip to Tavolara. It leaves from Porto San Paolo and visits part of the Area Marina Protetta di Tavolara (a natural reserve) with its unique sites. Tavolara is a huge calcareous massif of 6 km x 1 km and 550 m high. It’s impossible not to note it when you land at Olbia airport.
During the afternoon head to Olbia, passing by Capo Coda Cavallo to admire its wonderful panorama and then in Olbia visit the Pedres castle, that originates between 1296 and 1322, under pisano-aragonese occupation.
Arriving in Olbia, take the road to Loiri and after 3,3 km turn to your right and then go ahead for another 2 km of ground road. There you can visit the ruins and have a breath taking panorama of Olbia. Right down the castle you can see the monte ‘e s’Ape “tomba dei giganti” (giant’s tomb), the longest Sardinian one with 28 meters.
After this visit, head to Olbia to eat its famous mussels in a local restaurant or in Golfo Aranci (20 km from Olbia), cute small fisher’s village that became a famous tourist destination during Summertime, known for the many restaurants that serve local fresh fish.
DAY 4 – PORTO ROTONDO
After having breakfast, just make the check out, carry the luggage and head to Porto Rotondo, very close to Olbia.
Porto Rotondo today is a very known tourist destination but it all began with just a mouth-to-mouth advice between friends, launched by Donà delle Rosa count. Jet set people began to come to Porto Rotondo invited by friends, then enjoying the place they began to buy villas themselves.
It is worthy walking through the small squares and alleys, like Piazza San Marco, or to admire the flooring of Via del Molo, made by Emanuel Chapalain in 2007. The flooring represents the food chain, where bigger fishes eat other fishes, showing the continuous life cycle.
Another place to visit is the San Lorenzo church that has a ship hull seen upside down with thousands of silhouettes representing many historical personalities of Porto Rotondo, made by sculptor Mario Ceroli.
There are many beaches in Porto Rotondo, for many different enjoyments. Arriving at the first roundabout, turn to your left and go to Ira beach. Beautiful and one of the most traditional of Porto Rotondo. Going straight to the center you can reach 2 small beaches, one in front of the other, divided only by the road that passes in the middle. To choose which one to go just check the wind as when it’s windy on the right, it’s calm on the left beach and vice versa.
Finish the visit with an exquisite ice cream along the port and it is time to go back to the airport. A little bit of blues to leave the island, but now you know how easy is to come and spend a couple of days in Sardinia.
Ana Maria Vasconcellos