The next trip of 2018 was to the little French island of Corsica. Having visited the neighbouring Italian island of Sardinia the year before we were keen to compare the two.
The first stop is the capital city of Ajaccio complete with its pretty town beach.
Ajaccio has a wealth of history. Not least of which is that it is the birthplace of French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte in 1769.
His ancestral home, Maison Bonaparte, is now a museum displaying family heirlooms.
They also quite like lots of hogs – mainly down to the fact that it is a local delicacy thanks to large numbers of wild piggies that roam the island.
We enjoy a lovely sunset on the beach to round off a perfect first day.
Hairpin bends bring us ever closer to our final stop on the Sardinian adventure – Cala Gonone.
It has a sheltered town beach, a pretty crescent of shingle lapped by navy and turquoise seas.
Once unpacked we’re celebrating our 11th anniversary in traditional style – with pizza! 🙂
Cala Gonone is a jumping off base for exploring the craggy limestone cliffs and ravines.
But before we hop on a floaty boat to explore the glorious seascapes, we enjoy a leisurely breakfast complete with epic view from our hotel’s rooftop restaurant.
During October the amount of accommodation on offer is very limited so we opted for
Hotel Ristorante Bue Marino
Room wise it is very basic but you can’t argue with its location, overlooking the beach with stunning views out across the sea.
Next up we’re taking to the seas to enjoy a tour around the cliffs and waters of Cala Gonone.
There’s a last lingering look at the amazing murals of Orgosolo now before we head onwards.
I love the combination of faded pastel portraits of people with the flaking, peeling paint of old doors and metal work.
Below Mahatma Gandhi ministers to the poor and dwells on the plight of the impoverished.
This colourful house is so delightful it deserves a double whammy of photos!
Musicians line the walls of this ochre coloured building hidden in a backstreet.
It is thought that the mural as a form of genuine political expression and dialogue is dwindling because, although more appear, often councils invite artists to paint to attract visitors.
Therefore sanitising and professionalising a once wild art form.
Whatever the motivations behind the murals of Orgosolo, and other bandit hill towns, they are an undeniable draw for art lovers and photographers alike.
So if you fancy an out of the way, mountain top detour to visit a former den of iniquity and banditry, you’ll love Orgosolo and its colourful art.
As we continue our exploration of Orgosolo’s outdoor art gallery we come across everything from political and historical paintings to cubist style works.
Below is a painted reproduction of a movie poster for the famous Bandits of Orgosolo, a 1960 Italian film drama directed by Vittorio De Seta that featured local shepherds as some of the lead characters.
Other murals reflect more recent world events such as the 9/11 terror attacks.
This trio of modernist works depict local women carrying out traditional crafts.
The man is dwarfed by this ornate and detailed mural that takes up an entire house facade.
While below a window is surrounded by colourful depictions of local life.
I took so many pictures of Orgosolo that I might manage to stretch to a third post about it!
Moving away from beaches for a while we’re heading to the isolated town of Orgosolo.
Hidden in the midst of 1,000-metre-high mountains, surrounded by wild pine forests and a byword for lawlessness and kidnappers, Orgosolo is also an open air art gallery thanks to hundreds of murals that cover every wall, house and shop.
Paintings can be found on walls all over Orgosolo. Above the many roles of women are celebrated – workers, mothers and lovers.
Whether it is pointing out the hypocrisy of giving charity without supporting countries to develop themselves or advocating for women’s rights, each picture tells a very charged story.
The first mural in Orgosolo was signed by Dioniso in 1969: Dioniso was the collective name of a group of anarchists.
Since then they have reflected Sardinia’s political struggles but also deal with international issues as well as portraying the traditional island ways of life.
Orgosolo and the surrounding villages are infamous due to its lawless past full of bandits and kidnappers.
It is based in the central region known as Barbagia and, fittingly enough, the name comes from Cicero who described it as a land of barbarians.
At one time Orgosolo was known as the village of the murderers due to its high crime rate!
Given the rather reckless driving of some of the locals, it could still claim a fair few unwitting tourist scalps!
More to come from this rough and ready open air art gallery . . .
We’re heading to the last of the stunning Costa S’meralda beaches now – the lovely Capriccioli.
It’s a small beach with a length of 200 meters is surrounded by an abundance of lush Mediterranean brush, with olive and pine trees.
The beach is divided into two parts by enormous granite rocks and is a gorgeous stretch of white sand and gently shelving waters.
The waters are very shallow and so very safe for children and other water babies!
As is common with the Costa Smeralda beaches there are lots of weird, weather beaten rocks that seem to have fallen from an alien planet.
The waters are as close to the Caribbean as you can get just three hours from the UK.
But luckily Sardinia doesn’t seem to have registered on the tourist hit list so far, so rampant development hasn’t happen and it retains a low key, laid back vibe.
With beaches this amazing though, I doubt it will be long before people looking for alternative, cheap holiday destinations start to wise up to this amazing island.
Next on our coastal trip around the Costa S’meralda is the gorgeous little sandy spot of Spiaggia del Principe.
Spiaggia del Principe, also known as Portu Li Coggi, is one of the best beaches of Costa Smeralda.
The Prince’s Beach is aptly named as it was the favourite beach of Karim Aga Khan IV, the playboy prince who fell in love with the stunning Sardianian coastline and founded the Costa S’meralda.
The beach is located near the small village of Cala di Volpe, between Romazzino beach and Capriccioli.
It will take you a good ten-minute walk along a rocky path before you’ll get rewarded with an arc of stunning white sand, lovely clear water and ever-changing hues of turquoise.
Principe Beach is about 250 meters long in total and is divided by rocks in the middle that stretch out into the ocean.
White, pink, green, emerald green, blue, turquoise and sky blue colours all combine to make this little beach pack a huge punch!
There’s a small bar that serves lunch, ice cream and cold drinks. Much needed refreshments in the baking heat of the Sardinian sun.
It’s a definite must for the avid beach lover and a lovely little spot for watching the waves. It gets chock a block in high season though so visiting in October is perfect.
Romazzino beach is the next sandy spot to be bagged on our Costa S’meralda coastal tour and it’s a beauty.
In the middle of the beach you’ll find a pier that stretches out into the warm(ish) waters!
While bizarrely shaped, weather beaten rocks appear haphazardly dotted along the sands.
The wind has abated somewhat but the water is still a glorious mix of navy, greens and frothy white wavelets.
Once again we have this little slice of paradise all to ourselves given that it was October.
But in the height of the summer season this beach will be heaving with sun worshippers.
Personally I much prefer it in it’s lonely, windswept, empty glory. Just us and the elements.
Romazzino beach is right in front of the famously luxurious Romazzino Hotel, one of Costa Smeralda’s best beach hotels. It’s all shut up for the season so we get to roam freely!
Clearly luxuriating guests demand complete peace and quiet hence this amusing collection of “do not” signs . . . not quite sure what the middle one is warning against!
Onwards with our tour of the Costa Smeralda coastline and this time we’re treated to the sea at its windswept best.
The water has transformed into a boiling, seething mass of navy fury topped with foamy white horses at Cala Liccia.
To get to this empty, wind whipped shingle beach we have to do a far bit of scrambling down rocky paths.
The beaches in Sardinia are not always accessible but that makes it even more rewarding when you finally arrive on them!
The navy water contrasts nicely with the weathered orange tones of the weather beaten rocks.
Onwards in the car until we spot another picturesque spot. The beach at Punta Capaccia.
Naturally I can’t help but be drawn towards the water like a magnet to metal so we end up picking our way down to the sands.
it’s rather blustery now so the effect is slightly less glamorous Italian retreat and more good old Blighty beach!
Next on our beach day blitz are the stunning beaches of Spiaggia Del Romazzino, Spiaggia del Principe and Spiaggia Capriccioli.
This island just keeps getting better and better!
We’ve settled into our little hotel – the gorgeous
Dolce Vita close to the celeb’s hangout of Porto Cervo.
Now we are all set to explore the stunning beaches of the Costa Smeralda, one of the highlights of this gem of an island.
Costa Smeralda is around 20km of jaw droppingly stunning beaches and coastline to the North East of Sardinia.
The main towns and villages in the area are Porto Cervo, Liscia di Vacca, Capriccioli, and Romazzino.
Our first beach on the coastal sight seeing itinerary is the empty stretch of glorious white sand at Spiaggia De Grande Pervero.
The early morning means we get the sands all to ourselves and it is truly beautiful.
There’s also the smaller Piccolo Pervero that makes up a duo of delightful beaches.