The yacht-filled harbor of Porto Cervo.

The eastern coast of the Italian island of Sardinia has long attracted history buffs. There you can visit museums filled with ancient Roman artifacts, sites of Punic burials, and discover the mysterious remains of ancient Nuraghic culture. These, in turn, inspire handmade goods such as carpets, baskets and chests, as well as silk shawls and jewelry, all crafted locally and ready to take home. Visitors aboard the Splendor for DDC21 can experience all this between bites of local cuisine, from fresh mussels to wine-cooked lobster, along with views of the sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and emerald waters of Olbia and Porto Cervo.

History and Handmade Goods

Remnants of a mysterious ancient culture dot the city of Olbia—the Nuragic people of the Bronze-age left no written record of who they were but built stone fortresses that stand to this day. Many of their works can be visited throughout Olbia, and you can learn about this enigmatic people at the Museo Archeologico right next to the port. Amidst these Nuragic artifacts you will find bits of Roman history, including full restorations of Roman ships from 450 A.D. salvaged from the bottom of the sea.

The sea surrounding Olbia takes the form of a scenic bay, with a long road climbing the hills from the shore to the city center to form the main shopping and nightlife area known as the Corso Umberto. Here you can visit the market square, the Piazza Mercato, housed beneath a modern glassed roof and the Punic walls that remain from the ancient civilization of Carthage. Stroll through the plaza to shop for handmade goods or stop to try the wondrous Sardinian cuisine with a panoramic view of the sea.

Stroll through the Piazza Mercato in Corso Umberto.
Stroll through the Piazza Mercato in Corso Umberto to shop for handmade goods and taste the Sardinian nightlife.

Taste the Custom Cuisine of Sardinia

Ask for local Sardinian favorites like saedas: honey-glazed crepes filled with cheese and deep fried to perfection. You can also find culurgiones—roughly translating in English to “little bundles”—which can be described as a combination of pierogi and ravioli stuffed with mashed potatoes and ricotta cheese and served with tomato sauce. Finally, look out for fregola, which is a pasta made of that same semolina flour, but rolled into tiny pebbles, toasted and served in a seafood sauce.

Along the Corso Umberto, the eateries tend to be unassuming, yet full of world-class flavors. Stop in at any restaurant or café and you’ll likely be met with a wine list that would be the envy of any nation. There are bistros with the finest pancetta and fine dining with the freshest fish you can imagine. Italian staples abound, such as rigatoni and fava beans, and you will likely find pasta topped with fresh lobster or incorporated with the catch of the day.

Traditional Sardinian Culurgiones
Be sure to try Culurgiones, a stuffed pasta dish that is filled with mashed potatoes and served with tomato sauce.

See the Ocean Views of Porto Cervo

Go a little north of Olbia and you’ll find Porto Cervo, one of the most famous resorts in Italy. The reason: this go-to destination for the yachting crowd has some of the most beautiful beaches this side of the Mediterranean. These beaches are perfect for lounging, whether with a book or a cocktail in hand. If you’re looking for activity, find watersports like scuba diving and snorkeling amidst the clear water, or simply take a swim and admire the view of the shore.

Hike up to the Chiesa di Stella Maris for another breathtaking view—this little white church sits atop a hill from which you can see almost every inch of the sun-speckled waters surrounding the harbor. Almost everywhere you look you can find the magic of nature on these trails. Take a little time to explore these stunning coves and feel the clean sand between your toes.

Next Stop: Sorrento

The boat departs that evening for Sorrento, the peninsula in southern Italy right next to Pompeii and Naples. The wonders of these historic sites and a day trip to Capri await you as we pass the halfway point of our cruise aboard the Splendor. Be sure to qualify for DDC21 this year to experience the Mediterranean for yourself.

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