By Regina Lynch-Hudson | Photography by Courtland C. Bivens III
There’s no lazier a luxury than lounging on the dock of the bay in Olbia, a sluggish-moving coastal town located on the Italian island of Sardinia.
The celeb-scape of Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, has been a longtime hideaway for luminaries. Sardinia’s enchanting towns and breathtaking backdrop earn its moniker “the pearl of the Mediterranean.” While most jetsetters board private aircraft and boats bound for the more exclusive enclaves of Sardinia, recently, the allure for Sardinia’s entry hub of Olbia has heightened — enticing laidback tourists to what was once the isle’s pit stop. Known for its airport and ferry port, Olbia is overshadowed by Costa Smeralda’s 35-mile stretch of epic coastline, and other outlying crown jewels. Olbia vies to stake its claim as an affordable and appealing alternative to the region’s ritzy rival villages. A captivating hamlet chockfull of boutiques, bars, bistros and a buzzling city center, Olbia offers an oasis of traditional culture and rustic charm.
Ships Ahoy: Many travelers visit Sardinia via ship, and Olbia lends the area’s largest and most popular cruise and ferry port, with connections to the mainland. Cruiseliners spotted in the harbor included, Carnival, Holland America, Oceania Cruises and Regent. The entry port is positioned roughly a mile from the city — with major sights easily navigated by foot. Olbia railway station (Stazione di Olbia) links with train stations throughout Sardinia.
www.boomerangcharter.com provides private or group sailings and yachting options to neighboring areas on an assortment of boats.
Effortless Olbia: You can easily view the highlights of Olbia in a day, at a snail’s pace. Olbia is an authentic and unspoiled settlement that still bears the scab of the Roman conquest of Italy. Architectural marvels include the Romanesque church of San Simplicio sited at Piazza Regina Margherita, constructed in the 12th century. Remains of Roman baths dot Olbia, even today.
The Archaeological Museum of Olbia, near the port, is crammed with intriguing ancient artifacts. A must-do tour is the totally renovated San Paolo Church, built in the 17th century. Throughout Olbia, we delighted in the melodic Italian language, but in major touristic spots we welcomed the familiar chorus of English.
Most tourists opt for jaunts to more established hotspots on the island. Worthwhile dashes include the seaside resort of Pittulongu, four miles north of Olbia. Pittulongu presents pastimes such as bird watching, sunbathing and sailing. Or, the natural beauty of Costa Smeralda awaits 20 minutes away — a paradise of water-based activities.
We chose to wander aimlessly, taking in the surprising quietude and panoramic photo opps, before settling in a sandy front row spot by the sea.
Paradise Found: Hotel Cala di Volpe, found 25 minutes north of Olbia, is situated in Costa Smeralda (Porto Cervo). The quaint property unfolds ocean-view rooms and 21 suites — set in an environment of spectacular rock formations and sparkling emerald waters — a lure for snorkelers and scuba divers, and solitude-seekers like us. www.caladivolpe.com