Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exploring Sardinia by Car

Not too long ago, I interviewed Jill Simpson about her travels in Sardinia.  I still haven't been there, but Fiona Hillard has stopped by to share her suggestions for driving through this rugged and fascinating part of Italy.  When not road-tripping around Sardinia, you’ll catch Fiona writing about Alghero car hire for ArgusCarHire.com. 


Where better to begin your road trip adventure around Sardinia than Alghero, the beautiful medieval town located on the northwest coast of the island? Not only is Alghero a stunningly pretty resort, it also has the unusual distinction of being one of the only Catalan towns surviving outside of Spain. Its fascinating Catalonian heritage stretches as far back as the mid-fourteenth century, when Pedro IV of Aragon seized control and set out on a path of intense colonisation. Funnily enough, these days, Alghero is a popular tourist destination for European holidaymakers looking to experience the warm welcome of a good old-fashioned Italian holiday resort. The old town centre is typically charming, with cobbled streets and lantern-lit laneways filled with cafés, pastel coloured gelaterias and first-class seafood restaurants.



So, leaving the medieval ramparts of Alghero behind, take a 15km drive west to Capo Caccia, one of Italy’s most famous cave complexes and a picturesque touring destination in its own right.

First on your list of sights should be Grotta di Nettuno, the jewel in the crown of Capa Caccia. Boasting an impressive 2500 metres of craggy rock formations, this cave can be reached either by sea or by climbing the 656 steps of Escala del Cabirol. Don’t miss the scenic lake (La Marmora) at the entrance, or the two beautiful sandy beaches.

As well as its magnificent cave network, Capa Caccia is also home to rare flora and fauna. The area is protected by a nature reserve, which was set up by the Italian Botanic Association in 1970.

While you’re in the area, take a drive out to the bay of Porto Conto and the pretty village of Fertilia. If you’ve brought along your scuba diving gear, you’ll be able to take your pick from 20 different dive points. The turquoise waters provide wonderful visibility – look out for colourful fish and unusual sea plants including red coral.

Up for exploring the area further? Take a boat trip around the coast and discover a range of spots including the Riviera del Corralo (coral Riviera), Piana Island, Porto Conte Bay and Punta del Giglio.

Back on terra firma, check out the collection of medieval towers including Torre del Bollo, Torre del Tramariglio and Terre del Pegna.


Driving one hour south of Alghero, you’ll come to Bosa, a town that enjoys a secluded location devoid of mass tourism. From here, a short 3km spin will take you to Bosa Marina, the quiet beach resort next to the town and the perfect place to enjoy a sumptuous seafood feast.

Back on the road again, the deserted mining town of Argentiera calls.

Argentiera has been known as the main site of silver mining in Sardinia since Roman times. Like the ghost towns of America’s wild west, Argentiera winded down operations in the 1960s but has been preserved perfectly and today serves as a living museum. Getting there is a little bit tricky, but if you follow these directions you should get there without much hassle. From Alghero, start by driving northwest on Largo Era towards Via Marconi and then turn left at Via Marconi. Take a right turn at Via 4 Novembre and turn left until you reach Vittorio Emanuele. Take the 1st right to Via Lamarmora and then the third right onto Via Garibaldi. When you reach the roundabout take the 2nd exit, before turning right at Strada Statale. Take two more right turns, before turning left, then right then take two more left turns. True, it all sounds a bit haphazard but finally you’ll come to Argentiera and it will have been worth all the twists and turns.

If you’re interested in digging further into the history of the island, visit Anghelu Ruju, a renowned prehistoric site located near Alghero. It dates all the way back to the Ozieri peoples of the late Neolithic period. Excavations are ongoing at the airport near Fertilia, where up to thirty-seven ancient burial tombs have been found.

After all that history, rewind in a different way at the beach side resort of Stintino.

This tiny picturesque town is located at the extreme northwest of Sardinia and is famous for its beach at La Pelosa. It offers beautiful white sandy beaches and warm, crystal clear waters that stretch from the short strait to the Island of Piana. Its scenic qualities have made La Pelosa one of the most popular beaches in Sardinia, so if you’re planning a day trip, be sure to set off early in the morning to secure a good spot on the beach.


Thanks for the suggestions, Fiona!
If you want to check it all out, I've created a map of Fiona's itinerary, too.

View The Gypsy's Guide to Driving in Sardinia in a larger map

1 comment:

jessiev said...

this sounds like an excellent drive. thanks!

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