Across the Strait from Corsica are two Sardinias, divided by the fantastic sounds and passages of the Maddalena islands.
Both Sardinias have fabulously sculpted white/pink granite rocks slashing through fragrant scrub, and beaches of sintered white coral, but one is touristy with modern villas, trattoria and campsites, albeit low density by Med standards, the other is Palm Springs by the sea.
This is Costa Smeralda, a 34-mile stretch of coast that is the playground for yachts, be they racing at the exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda or cruising, with Cala di Volpe routinely populated by fabulous superyachts.
Itinerary – Sardinia
Day 1 – Portisco
The beach of Portisco is found in the western part of the Golfo di Cugnana and is bordered to the north by a rocky strip and by the Island of Portisco. The southern part has a well-equipped port for pleasure craft of every type. Residential hotels and luxury villas occupy the area surrounding the beach which has numerous beach facilities. However, the area still boasts a landscape of great beauty, with extremely suggestive chromatic effects. The beach has fine white sand with rocky outcrops and is characterised by a shallow sandy bottom which makes it safe for children to swim.
Day 2 – Tavolara
Tavolara is a limestone and granite mountain that rises from the sea and is famous for being the smallest kingdom in the world. On the eastern side there is a little port, dining facilities and a small group of houses, where you will find small beaches, fringed with sea daffodils. The entire territory is dotted with Mediterranean scrub, where the yellow helichrysum, wild geranium and a type of campanula known as "Stellina di Tavolara" all stand out. The southern side is a paradise for scuba divers offering unforgettable sights of an environment rich in biodiversity and populated by shoals of trusting fish.
Day 3 – Caprera
Caprera is a small and beautiful island and has been declared a nature reserve due to the variety of rare species found on this island. Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian freedom fighter, established his presence on this island and lived out his final days here where a museum and chapel are dedicated to his memory. Considered to be among the Top 10 islands with a surface area of around 6 square miles remains uninhabited and is best known for its pink granite rocks that lend beauty to the shores. Visitors are attracted by the calm; peaceful atmosphere found here along with the natural scenic beauty.
Day 4 – Bonifacio
Thanks to its stunning natural setting, the ancient fortress town of Bonifacio is an essential stop for all visitors to Corsica. Protected by vast smooth walls, the town itself stretches along a narrow, top-heavy promontory, undercut by creamy-white limestone cliffs hollowed out by centuries of ceaseless waves. Down below, connected by steep footpaths and a single winding road, and lapped by cornflower-blue waters, its harbour and modern marina shelters at the landward end of a snaking fjord-like inlet. Down by the port is where most of the tourists concentrate, including ferries to Sardinia, boat tours to southerly beaches and a busy clutch of bars, clubs and brasseries along the quayside. The old city, though, is what truly lingers in the mind, a ravishingly romantic web of alleyways lined by ramshackle medieval houses and chapels with faded pastel plasterwork.
Day 5 – Budelli
Even from afar, it displays its entire beauty with sensational colours. Budelli is one of the brightest gems of the Maddalena Archipelago, famous for its turquoise waters and for the Spiaggia Rosa, the Pink Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean. Its pink colour is derived from ground shelled microorganisms called Miniacinia miniacea, that live among the posidonia and are transported to the beach by the currents. At Cala Roto, where the beach is located, in 1964 Michelangelo Antonioni shot the scene of the girl’s fable in “Red Desert”, capturing the nature of this place in its full spontaneity. Formerly private property, Budelli became part of the national park in May 2016 and today is protected by environmental regulations.
Day 6 – Maddalena
The Maddalena archipelago lies off the north-eastern corner of Sardinia, close to the Costa Smeralda. The cluster of rocky islands lies in famously beautiful waters, clear and shimmering with a range of blue and turquoise hues. There are many fine sand beaches, some of them romantically isolated, and the islands are popular for boating, swimming and sunbathing holidays. The scenery here is memorable; a striking land and seascape where granite outcrops enclose patches of turquoise sea "as blue as the mantle of the Madonna". Weathered by wind and sea, the granite has formed itself into bizarre shapes, while currents and geology have formed the islands' famous beaches, each with a different sand texture and colour.