Wednesday, 15 March 2017


WHEN I told people I was heading to Sardinia, I was greeted with some odd requests to bring back tins of sardines.
And although the name of the fish may well be taken from the waters where they used to congregate, sardines are surprisingly not actually a main attraction in Sardinia.

You won't see loads of them taking prime position on supermarket shelves around the island, in the same way as you don't see Scotland awash with haggis.
Instead, there's pasta, pork, shellfish and flat bread (pane carasau) among the local specialities, as well as the offer of sunshine and a glistening blue seascape that would rival those of the Caribbean.

The seductive beaches of this Mediterranean island are a welcome sanctuary for people seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of mainland Italy.
Sardinia remains unspoiled by tacky tourism and the hotels of family-run chain Delphina that I visited oozed a class and an uncomplicated feel that fits in with its elegant, understated beauty.

I travelled to Sardinia with easyJet, who run frequent flights from Gatwick to Olbia airport, and from there headed to the five-star Resort Valle dell'Erica Thalasso & Spa in Santa Teresa di Gallura on the north coast of the island.
What you save on the flights, you can spend on accommodation and my arrival at the resort, in a charming town where you can catch the ferry to Corsica, was most welcoming. There was a selection of cold meats or antipasti, pizza, and light cocktails - just an indication of the freshly prepared food that was on offer throughout my stay.
Lounging on the hotel's outdoor sun terrace made me feel like I was in a movie.

Funnily enough, actor Michael Douglas had been spotted on his boat near Porto Cervo, the heart of millionaire's paradise Costa Smeralda, just a day earlier. But despite bringing binoculars to peer into some of the Liberace-style cruisers, I unfortunately was never able to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood royal.
When I did make a quick trip to Costa Smeralda, all the yachts on show - including some evil-looking black ones - resembled something from a James Bond movie.

Some of the princely resort's architecture featured in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me.
I did a spot of window-shopping, too, at some of the jewellers and designer boutiques nearby.
My five-star base had its own Thalasso therapy pools, sauna, hammam, and cardio-fitness room, as well as other open-air swimming pools and an enchanting private beach where you can dine in the evening by arrangement.
For those on a fitness and health drive, the hotel offers the low-carb Dukan diet and other protein-rich foods. I'd have happily relaxed there for most of my stay but the waters proved too tempting and a boat excursion to the archipelago of La Maddalena, between Sardinia and Corsica, proved equally refreshing.
I had a quick paddle in the water before my ichthyophobia, or fear of fish, got the better of me and I decided instead to soak in the fabulous views.
Around the bay are various rock formations which resemble figures like a hunchback friar or a big bear. We delighted in creating names for some of the more unusual rocks.
We took a quick trip past Porto Pollo Beach, the laid-back, boho resort popular with surfers and kite boarders, taking in the panorama from a high point at Palau, about 18 miles from Olbia. The sights in west Sardinia are equally stunning. We visited the local ethnographic museum in the ancient, granite village of Aggius, where among other things we learned about tapestry and bread-making traditions, as well as the methods used in cork production. It was truly like stepping back in time.
We also visited the Resort & Spa Le Dune at Badesi. The four-star resort between sand dunes and juniper trees is ideal for families, being blessed with a white sandy beach overlooking the azure waters of the Golfo dell'Asinara.
For couples and everyone else who want something even quieter, the four-star Isola Rossa Hotel Relax Torreruja Thalasso & Spa offers a stunning haven of relaxation.
The place exudes peace and old-fashioned elegance.


I stayed in Sardinia courtesy of Delphina Hotels and Resorts.
Flights to Olbia in north-east Sardinia from London Gatwick with easyJet ( start from £29.99 per person.
Rooms at Resort Valle dell'Erica Thalasso and Spa start per person per night on a half-board basis from £108 (the resort is open from May 24-Sept 20) and at Hotel Capo D'Orso from £117 a night (the hotel is open from May 24-Sept 27).
A stay at Hotel Relax Torreruja Thalasso & SPA 4* (open from May 17-September 27) starts at £67 a night, while the Resort & SPA Le Dune 4* (open May 24 to September 20) costs from £65 a night. Discount of 10 per cent on all room rates if you book before April 30, 2014.
More information about Delphina Hotels and Resorts: Late deals
Flying from Glasgow on May 4, seven nights in Turkey staying at the 4T Couples Sousse resort on an all-inclusive basis, from £455 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing.
Flying from Glasgow on Friday, seven nights in Italy, staying at the 4T Grand Hotel Nastro Azzurro Thomson Couples resort on an all-inclusive basis, from £804 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing.
Flying from Glasgow on Friday, seven nights in Italy staying at the 5T Hotel Bristol Platinum resort on a half-board basis, from £772 per person. Price is based on two adults sharing.
For these and other deals, visit your local Thomson travel shop, or call 0871 230 2555.

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