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Tuesday, June 3

Sardinia or Sardegna

We planned a trip to Sardinia when we saw a cheap flight from Nuremberg to Olbia. I googled Olbia; it doesn’t have much in the way for sightseeing. The main reason for this trip was to eat Sardinian food, get some sunshine and play in water.

We had an hour delay on departure, thankfully only an hour. We arrived late but the car rentals were still open. Agriturismo Li Scopi, for our first night, in San Teodoro is 30 minutes from the airport but after dark it took us 50 minutes on unknown roads in the dark. Li Scopi is hard to find so be sure to note the get GPS points, infact that’s true for all Italian locations. The nice host offered to stay for a late check in.

We slept well and woke up to a beautiful, clear day. The breakfast is served in the main house. In addition to fruits, sliced meats, cheese, cookies and cakes, they serve fresh yogurt and Sardinian flatbread, Pane Carasau. It’s crisp and thin cracker consistency. There’s abundance of food and something for everyone.

Each couple/family gets their own bungalow. Our bungalow was sophisticated and minimal. The wood beams and the large farm door at entrance worked. In addition to the main bedroom there is a smaller room attached with a table and chair and a cot (for a small child). There is also a wrap-around patio with lawn chairs.

After breakfast we drove to the nearest beach in San Teodoro. The clear water spanning multi shades of blue was beautiful. The day was sunny but the water was too cold for a swim, lesson learned, visit between June and October. There are few things that make me as happy as I was on that day on the shores with my feet in the water.

After a long stroll along the shore we headed south in the direction of Orosei & Cala Gonone. We decided to take the scenic route hugging the coast. (There is a highway that gets you from Olbia (or northern areas) to Cala Gonone faster.) Parts of the drive are on windy, hilly roads with water miles below while in other areas the road runs close to the road. We stopped in the town of Nuoro for lunch but were turned away by the owner because they open only for dinner. Not starved we drove to Agriturismo Gulunie to check in and drop off our bags. The agriturismo is on a hill overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

An older nonna (grandma) walked out from the main house and greeted us. I asked for our room and she had no idea what I was saying. Then the husband heard her say some words including “mangiare” and understood it as eating/food. She’s asking us about lunch he says. When did the husband learn Italian? Since we arrived to Europe, apparently or in one of those trips we’ve taken. Smart one, that husband. So I said no nonna no mangiare, solamente dormir. (When the only other language you know, Spanish, which may sound like Italian you use it. I did.) So the nonna said, si, si and told us to wait. After few minutes her daughter or someone of our age pulled up in a car and we got everything situated.

Our room was ordinary with a double bed and bunk beds. Both the bedroom and bathroom are poorly decorated. Coming from Li Scopi this was a slight disappointment. The younger woman told us they offer dinner each night. Having read the reviews for their food, we made reservations.

We asked for lunch suggestion and she said Osalla Beach Garden, a restaurant we’d seen on the way there. Osalla is on the beach and has benches and tables on the sand with palm trees offering shade. There’s also a bar for the beachgoers. One of the waiters offered the fresh seafood of the day and recommended some dishes including octopus, crabs, fish, and clams. After we ordered a couple and their toddler started getting their food. Between the three of them, they ordered 7-8 large portion dishes, some with pasta and all with seafood. While waiting and our mouths watering, we impatiently awaited our food. I had grilled octopus with grilled vegetables and the husband had pasta with crab and shared wine. Both dishes were terrific. If you’re in the area, go here especially from the beach.

After lunch we went to the local grocery store and bought wine. We had our tablets and wine in tow; we headed to the shore to read and drink. Again we dipped our feet in water and the water was cold. The shining sun and wine made the afternoon enjoyable.

Dinner started promptly at 7:30 in the main dining room and the restaurant was half full. Like the Tuscan agriturismo, we knew there would be many courses of food. We started with Pane Carasau, antipasti of marinated artichokes, tomato topped with salty ricotta and egg custard. They also serve cinghiale (wild boar) salami, prosciutto and cheese with antipasti. We could not get enough of the tomatoes with salted ricotta and marinated artichokes, we asked for seconds. Next was pasta, both homemade. Malloreddus (Sardinian gnocchi) with Bolognese (meat sauce) and the other ravioli, filled with dough. Both pastas were delightful but we found the ravioli filled with dough unusual, not good or bad. The main course was porcheddu, roasted suckling pig, with salad. The meat was tender, juicy and very fatty. After stuffing our faces with 3 courses we were done yet the kitchen wasn’t. Next came seada di ricotta, dough filled with ricotta, fried and then drizzled with honey. It’s like an empanada. It sounds unreal and tasted unreal and turned out to be one of my favorite desserts. Who thinks of frying cheese in dough and drizzling with honey? Sardinians! Then we had fruits with berries and citrus. The meal finished with fresh ricotta with honey. Did I mention they provide unlimited wine? There was coffee, we still can’t drink coffee after dinner like the Europeans as well as Mirto, liquor from the Myrtle plant. The husband tried it and we believe we’re not Mirto (or Grappa) fans because it astringent flavor. A memorable meal that costs almost nothing; the dinner is special at Agriturismo Gulunie.

Breakfast at Gulunie on the other hand is not memorable. They serve average breads, fruits and store bought yogurt. Since we were content with dinner it was fine to have a light breakfast.

We went to Cala Gonone to plan our activity. I’d researched information on a hike from Cala Luna to Cala Goloritze (UNESCO site) which takes roughly 3 hours. At the information desk in Cala Gonone the woman suggested a boat ride. She said the hike is strenuous and we didn’t have proper shoes for the trail. Thanks for the tip tourist person.

At the port, we bought tickets for a boat ride. It started from Cala Gonone to Cala Luna, Cala Goloritze, Cala Mariolu, Cala Gabbiani and couple others I can’t remember. (It follows the hiking trail on water). Since we’d missed the departure for Cala Luna at 10:30, the captain said the boat would pick us up at 12:15 and take us to next destination. We arrived at Cala Luna and picked up the 10:30am group of 6 and headed to the next stop. The boat takes visitors from one cala to the next and permits time to sunbathe (or swim in warmer weather). At each stop we were given 1 hour. Since the water was cold, we sunbathe and snapped photos. The scenery of the mountains reaching the sea was breathtaking. The rock formations were surreal.

The water was deep in some areas and shallow in others. The driver explained the rock formations’ history, as best as he could in his broken English. While driving from one cove to the next, the driver also took us into some hidden caves with the boat. One such cove was in use until the 19-90s and then a massive rock fell from the mountain on the coast (no one was hurt) and therefore is no longer accessible.

We agreed that when the water is warmer, these hidden caves would be the perfect place to swim. On that note, if going in peak summer, many visitors rent their own jettys and visit at their own pace. That requires parking the jetty far from the shore and swimming up to shore.

Our rental hit high waves and the ride was rocky at times. On either a jetty or rental boat be prepared for high seas and sickness. Also of note, some of these beaches are pebbly making it very uncomfortable on your feet and on the back.

We returned from the excursion at 5:30pm and were wiped out. The sun, the high waves and overall day at the beach was tiresome. Tough life...

That evening we drove back to Li Scopi for another night. We asked the host for dinner recommendation and she suggested L’Alculiciu, down the street. She made reservations for us and we were on our way.

Also an agriturismo that offers a full meal with antipasti, bread, pasta, meat, desserts, unlimited wine, water, coffee and mirto. There were some memorable dishes. One was battered and fried eggplant, we still have the taste of the eggplant in our mouths. Fried cheese that we both devoured. FRIED CHEESE, People!!! Another was red beans with sausage; the beans were slow cooked in the sausage. I could not get enough of the braised Romano beans in olive oil and garlic; we asked our server to leave the unfinished plate of beans. He chuckled. There were three pastas including Sardinian gnocchi with meat sauce, lasagna baked with some hallucinogenic drug (I am kidding, I wanted to see if you were reading… it was so good we will never forget it.) and ravioli filled with ricotta and served with sage butter sauce. (On a side side note, I just learned the lasagna dish’s name and its details. It’s called Zuppa Gallurese. And it’s not a soup at all. It’s made with stale bread soaked in broth then layered with cheese, topped with cow’s milk cheese and baked. It was invented in Gallura. I love google and that it feeds (pun intended!) my need-to-know-brain with food information.) There was porcheddu, given because it's the national dish of Sardinia, I say! The homey flavors and comforting service were authentic. The only server knew we were foreigners and he was kind and often asked if everything was okay. If the food at Gulunie was tasty, the food here was remarkable; I fell in love with Sardinia that evening, one more time.
The next morning we ventured North, past Olbia. In the 60s, a developer put Sardinia on the tourism map by developing an area on the northeast coast, Costa Smerlada. The husband’s coworker suggested we checkout the yachts and homes. No yacht sighting but the area radiates wealth amid gated communities and mansions overlooking the sea.

We lunched at a Sardinian version of state road restaurant. The inside was nice and clean. It was a Sunday because families dined for post church lunch. Seeing other tables I took note and ordered mussels. The husband ordered pasta with seafood upon the server’s recommendation. Both dishes were outstanding. We were surprised by the food because it was a random restaurant on Route 125 between Olbia and Costa Smerlada

We covered a small area in Sardinia and I would come back again if given the choice. San Teodoro has peaceful sandy beaches with turquoise waters while Cala Gonone offers swimming coves with shallow and deep waters. We visited Sardinia for three reasons relaxing, swimming and the food. Thankfully we accomplished two!

(don't mind the bad iPhone photos of the food; or iPhone are up to no good or I am having a technologically challenged day.)


  1. I gave several loud sighs before commenting. It is trips like these that make me miss living over there. Awesome write-up and pics!

    1. I am dreading the move back as well, for the same reason.

  2. also, i am so glad that I already ate lunch before I read what you ate.