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Thoughts on my 3 week trip to Sardinia; Bonifacio, Corsica; Paestum; Maratea; Tropea & Gioiosa Ionica in Calabria with a day trip to Taormina thrown in

Thoughts on my 3 week trip to Sardinia; Bonifacio, Corsica; Paestum; Maratea; Tropea & Gioiosa Ionica in Calabria with a day trip to Taormina thrown in

Old Sep 6th, 2004, 05:06 AM
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Thoughts on my 3 week trip to Sardinia; Bonifacio, Corsica; Paestum; Maratea; Tropea & Gioiosa Ionica in Calabria with a day trip to Taormina thrown in

Sorry to start a new thread to continue my trip report on, but I thought maybe giving it a new title listing all the places that I went may be helpful in getting people to read it as the thread keeps dropping with no comments. I admit that after spending a long time writing up a report I like to know that people are reading them!

Author: AP6380
Date: 09/02/2004, 06:54 am
Message: I returned a few days ago from 3 nights in Cagliari at Hotel Calamosca, 3 nights in Alghero at Hotel Catalunya and 4 nights in San Pantoleo (in the vicinity of Costa Smeralda) at Hotel Rocce Sarde. From Sardegna we did a day boat trip to the Maddalena Archipelago and took the ferry to Bonifacio, Corsica. We utilized Rent.it for an automatic car rental.

We then flew to Naples and we picked up another car through thrifty.it. Both of these companies rates were much lower than autoeurope for an automatic. We spent 2 nights at the Grand Hotel Pianeta in Maratea, and 8 nights in my family's town in Calabria. In Calabria we day tripped to Tropea and Taormina.

When I get myself organized I will write up a trip report and post pics, but for now if anyone has questions please ask.



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Author: AP6380
Date: 09/02/2004, 09:00 pm
Message: My father & I (28 & 58 years old) departed for 20 nights in Italy on 8/11. My father was born in Italy but moved to the USA over 40 years ago. He speaks Italian, but it's mostly dialect so sometimes other Italians have difficulty understanding him. I have been studying Italian for almost a year now. Neither one of us has ever vacationed for that long and I was very excited about the length of the trip.

We departed from Newark-Rome, then Rome-Cagliari. I was impressed with the security in Rome, they pulled me aside and checked my carry-on thoroughly. I saw them do this to many people. I was very lucky that Delta had already changed my connecting flight to Cagliari to a later time, because if they hadn't I might have missed my flight to Cagliari due to us having left Newark 1 1/2 hours late. The Cagliari flight also departed Rome 1 hour later than scheduled.

When we arrived in Cagliari my luggage came out on the conveyer belt and my father's did not. We spent about 1 1/2 hours filling out paperwork with Alitalia. A security guard told my father that another flight from Rome was due in soon, and that we should wait to see if his luggage shows up. Sure enough, it did. My question is why did this information not show up in their system when we were filling out all the missing luggage paperwork? There was about 6-7 people on our flight missing luggage. It would have saved us much stress, but in the end thank god it worked out.




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Old Sep 6th, 2004, 05:08 AM
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Author: AP6380
Date: 09/03/2004, 07:50 pm
Message: After the luggage drama we picked up our automatic rental car that I had booked on rent.it, the company the car came from was Eurorent. I had prepaid for the rental. I added the extra insurance coverages, and even with that the price was dramatically lower than Autoeurope. I had absolutely no problems with this company.

The drive from the airport to Hotel Calamosca was really easy. I was glad that for this time of year that I had opted to stay outside the city and on the waterfront. The beach at the hotel didn't look like anything great (I never actually went to it), but the views from the rooms were very nice. The hotel is a simple 3 star. The rooms were quite large, as were the bathrooms. It was clean, and we paid the supplement to have a/c in our rooms. They have a restaurant that was packed every night, we didn't do half board so we never ate dinner there. We drove into Cagliari for dinner each night and parked in the public parking area on Via Roma. It was really easy once you got used to it, even at night. We ate at various restaurants in the neighborhoods behind Via Roma (thanks for the tip GAC). Each one was good, but I must admit I was shocked to see "Bistecca di Cavallo," (horse steak) on almost every menu.

That first afternoon I drove (I did all the driving on the trip, I wasn't so sure how my father would fare if he drove), toward Villasimius. There was, of course, loads of traffic and the road was full of twists and turns, but the views were gorgeous. I probably should have taken into consideration that my father would be tired from the traveling because he was somewhat cranky and I don't believe we ever actually made it to Villasimius. We went to some beach that was packed for a little while and had a strawberry granita.

When I am on vacation I am really hyper and full of energy, while my father would be content most of the time to just relax. This difference in travel styles would rear it's ugly head many times over the next 3 weeks.....




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Author: AP6380
Date: 09/05/2004, 07:22 pm
Message: Day 2-

We drove to the ruins at Nora and took a tour in Italian. Afterwards we drove to Chia beach. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and it actually wasn't too crowded. There's a small hill you can climb up to, and there's a tower at where you can pay about 1E to go to the top of the tower. I took some really beautiful pictures from up there.

We had forgotten some very important items for this trip, the most important being beach towels. We asked around in Cagliari and all the stores were sold out.

That night we ate in town and I had Sebadas for the 1st time. They are a traditional dessert, fried ravioli with honey. They are delicious and I had them many times after this. We also had mussels, which seemed to be a very popular dish in Sardinia. I usually don't like mussels but I really liked them everywhere that we went on the island.

Day 3-

In the am we went sightseeing in Cagliari. We walked to the Antiteatro Romano, but if I had read my guidebook more carefully I would have noticed the part where they gave a heads up that in the summertime it is pretty much covered up for concerts and such. There wasn't much to see because of that and it was a fairly long walk from where we had parked in front of the department store "La Rinascente" on Via Roma.

We then went to the Duomo, and to the Bastione. The views from the Bastione over Cagliari were beautiful.



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Author: AP6380
Date: 09/05/2004, 07:55 pm
Message: In the afternoon we drove to Teulada. The one thing I learned while driving in Italy for the first time is that distances can be much longer than expected. While at Chia the day before we had seen signs for Teulada that said (I believe) that it was about 17km away. What I didn't know was that it was the crazy twisty-turny mountain driving that takes twice as long. Once we were out there we asked a local vendor where the best beach was, he said "Le Dune" and "Porto Pino." On the way I saw what looked like huge mountains of snow, but I realized it must be the sand dunes that I had read about. At that point we had to be at least 3 miles from them and they still looked vast. We saw the signs for the "Le Dune" but the road looked like it didn't go anywhere so we continued to Porto Pino.

Porto Pino had really calm and beautiful water, but the beach was pure madness (typical in August I suppose). From where we were sitting I could see the huge dunes on directly across, so I decided to set out on foot to see them. It was at this point on day 3 where my dad & I started to get on each other's nerves. He stayed with our items at Porto Pino because he wasn't interested in the dunes. It took me an hour of walking on the beach to get to the dunes. Once there I was absolutely facinated by the huge sand dunes, and I climbed up them and took a zillion pictures. The name of the area is "Sabbie Bianche," and people are only allowed here in July & August because it is on military land.

Once I returned back to my father it was about 2 1/2 hours later and he was fuming because he felt like he couldn't leave our items on the beach to walk the 6 feet to go into the water. Now there was nothing all that valuable with us, so I'm not so sure why he was so paranoid but I realized at this point that the next 17 days with my father were going to be challenging.

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Old Sep 6th, 2004, 05:17 AM
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Hi AP,

Nicely written. Look forward to more.
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Old Sep 7th, 2004, 04:05 PM
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Day 4-

We drove from Cagliari to Alghero, it took a little over 3 hours. We checked into Hotel Catalunya, and we had really nice views over the waterfront from our room. The front desk employees of the hotel were not friendly, the service was fine but the men that worked the desk never cracked a smile. Public parking is available a few blocks away from the hotel, and we always found a spot.

We went to the beach in the afternoon, it was about a 20 minute walk from the hotel. It was definitely my least favorite of the trip, it was quite smelly.

One thing I learned about traveling with my father is that we get along much better when there is a town that I can walk to. In the early evenings he would rest and I would walk around the town sightseeing & shopping. I guess his overprotectiveness just applied to me driving somewhere by myself, but as far as walking went he didn't seem to care how long I disappeared for. It was good so we could have our space. The first 3 nights we each had our own room, but from this point on we shared a room because the prices were quite high this time of year and we hadn't chosen the cheapest hotels either.

Later this evening we FINALLY found beach towels, and the owner recommended a restaurant that had already caught my eye, "Dieci Metri." Her sister-in-law was a chef there. I later saw that the restaurant was reccomended in "Lonely Planet." The food was good and they had a cute outdoor seating area.

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Old Sep 7th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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Day 5- Ferragosto

This day we took the curvey & very scenic coastal route from Alghero to Bosa. There were many times along the way that I wanted to pull over to take pictures because the scenery was so beautiful, but we only stopped once or twice. Another note about my dad: he was very anxious when I drove. Now, I was not driving very fast because I did get passed a lot. No matter what though, my father's feet were always stomping on the floor of the car looking for a brake. He also was constantly directing me as to how to drive, etc. There were so many times where I just asked him to please stop because it was so distracting (ok, maybe it wasn't that civil.... I'm not saying that I wasn't annoying in any way to my father, I'm not an angel but I am the one writing the report so I can only present one side of the story....

We walked on Vittorio Emanuele, the main street in Bosa for a bit. The heat started to get to us so we headed to the beach, which was touted in one of my guidebooks as having won medals for being the cleanest beach in Italy. It was definitely very nice & clean, but nothing scenically spectacular.
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Old Sep 7th, 2004, 04:45 PM
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That night in Alghero we ate at Trattoria Maristella. It is outside the Centro Storico. I had clams & mussels with a specialty pasta of Sardegna, I believe it's called "Fregula" or Semolina drops. This meal was absolutely delish. That evening they had fireworks over the Lungomare.
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Old Sep 7th, 2004, 07:45 PM
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A very unique itinerary in parts of Italy that few people on this board have seen. Good report.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Thanks! When I first started planning my trip to Sicily 2 years ago it seemed like there wasn't many people on this board who had been there. Now, it seems like many people are going. Maybe the same will happen for Sardinia, Basilicata and Calabria- on the other hand maybe it's better that these places don't get too mainstream. I also don't think I have to worry about Calabria getting too touristy.
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Old Sep 8th, 2004, 06:09 AM
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Thanks so much for your trip report. . .
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:08 PM
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Day 6-

In the morning we stopped at the Sella & Mosca Winery to buy gifts. We didn't take a tour but the grounds looked beautiful, if time had permitted we would have taken a tour.

I had discussed with my father prior to this day that to go to the Grotta di Nettuno we could either take a boat from Alghero or drive to the area then take a boat, or we could just go up & down the 656 steps. Well, my father's response was "I can do anything you can do, let's do the steps." OK, this is a defining moment in this trip because from this point on I will have to hear him tell the story to others at least 50X about the "hundreds of steps" that I made him walk.

The caves were beautiful. They were extremely crowded between the hundreds of people getting dropped off by boats and the others who were doing the steps.

I had read about Porto Ferro Beach, which is supposed to be one of the island's longest stretches of wild sandy beach. We tried to get there but stumbled across another beach that looked beautiful from far away, but once we got there and my father went in the water it became obvious that it wasn't too swimmer-friendly. There were many sharp rocks. Another key item we didn't bring: plastic shoes that cover our feet for those rocky beaches. We stayed here for a bit and then we moved on.

We finally found the real Porto Ferro, but it looked to be about a mile walk from where we parked so we settled for another rocky area across from it, but these rocks were huge and smooth. We were able to lay out on them and walk on the ones in the water with no problems.

After the beach we stopped at Nuraghe di Palmavera. This is the only Nuraghe site we visited. I really enjoy sites with temples, but this kind of site I suppose just didn't interest me. I think that they are the kind of ancient sites that require a tour to fully appreciate.

That evening we ate a very delicious and fairly expensive 5-course seafood meal at "Al Tuguri" in Alghero. It was a very nice atmosphere and the food was artistically presented.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 05:47 PM
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Day 7-

We departed Alghero for San Pantoleo (on the mountain above the Costa Smeralda). While driving I noticed that we had just driven by an interesting looking church that I had read about in one of my guidebooks. We turned around and visited "Santissima Trinita di Saccargia," which is a Romanesque Church. It was a very nice stop to break up the drive a bit.

We checked into Hotel Rocce Sarde (http://www.roccesarde.it/), it's a really beautiful hotel with amazing views of the coast. It's situated amongst huge, jutting rocks that are all around. The actual town is about a mile up the road, where there are a few shops & restaurants. There are ristorante/pizzerias scattered all over the backroads around the hotel. I really, really enjoyed being away from some of Costa Smeralda's less-appealing features but yet having access to the beaches. I would really suggest it for those who would like to tour the region but yet not stay in an ultra-expensive resort. The landscaping is amazing and the interior of the hotel incorporates the traditional Sardinian elements. It is a very charming place to stay. It belongs to a collection of hotels called "Charme and Relax," http://www.charmerelax.com

They have their own boat and do excursions with I believe anywhere from 8-13 people. They had excursions for the islands of La Maddalena & Corsica, but for the 4 days we stayed there weren't any that we were interested in. They were fairly costly, around 86 Euros a head. I think they are probably really worth it as opposed to being on a large boat with hundreds of people (we did this the following day, and it was truly memorable, and not all in a good way!)

After checking in we went to a beach suggested by the front desk, "Spiaggia Bianca." It was late afternoon and it seemed to be a hot spot, and was very crowded. In the evening we drove to Porto Cervo, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. It was pretty much as expected, a playground for the rich. They had all the high-end stores and there were hundreds of yachts docked all around. It's a fun place to do people watching and possibly have a drink, but I wouldn't want to be based out of there.

That evening we ate at "Ristorante-Pizzeria Azzura," which wasn't too far from the hotel and we ate excellent seafood risotto.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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Thanks AP630, wonderful report.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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Very informative, AP.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 07:56 PM
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Thanks for the wonderful trip report!

I might not get to all the places you visited, but it sure makes good reading!
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 03:35 AM
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Thanks for the nice compliments! It makes writing this easier when you know people are interested. I seem to be dragging my feet writing this, I think it's because it allows me to prolong my post-vacation happiness by reminiscing.
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 04:32 AM
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I've always been so curiousw abpout Sardinia. I gues it would be impossible to get around wihout a car (and I'm never willing to rent a car by myself). Does everyone speak standard Italian to tourists, or did you have a problem with dialect? Are the beaches very rocky as you're walking into the water, or is there a sandy bottom? Did you have (or see) that cheese with the live worms crawling in it? Were people curious about you and asking a lot of questions?
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 06:01 AM
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I definitely think there are people on this board (like GAC I think) who have traveled to Sardinia without a rental car.

It seemed like my beginner formal Italian was more understood than my father's dialect (Calabrese). I was also in mostly heavily touristed areas, so I'm sure those in the tourism industry are required to speak standard Italian.

There are beaches of every kind, rocky, sandy, rocky & sandy at the same time. Many of the most beautiful beaches entail footwork to get to them. We often would park and would have to walk a 1/2 mile to a mile to get to the beaches.

I had read about that cheese in a magazine, but I never sought it out. There were so many tourists everywhere I don't think we stood out too much. There was a slight bit of curiosity once in awhile, I could see people watching us when we spoke English. I also found that when I spoke a bit of Italian many people would automatically start speaking to me in English. I think the fact that my father & I look extremely Italian and that he speaks it (and I do a bit) also made us less likely to stand out.

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Old Sep 14th, 2004, 10:07 AM
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Out of about 400 pictures I tried to select some of the better ones, if you would like to take a look (hopefully this link will work):

http://www.ofoto.com/BrowsePhotos.js...oid=1226977481
03&collid=911940848103&page=1&sort_order=0

Last year when I tried this a smiley face popped up....
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Old Sep 15th, 2004, 07:12 PM
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Day 8-

We got up early in the am and drove to Palau to find a boat tour operator to go to the Arcipelago di la Maddalena with. We found one for 35 Euros each, lunch not included. Me with my infinite wisdom decided we would sit outside on a bench, with absolutely no where to hide from the sun.

The boat was packed like sardines. We would have paid more than twice the price if the hotel had offered this tour during our stay, but they didn't. With the hotel it would have been a total of 13 people as opposed to over 200 people.

We sailed by Maddalena, and swam at Spargi. Spargi had the most beautiful, clear water that I saw on the whole trip. We then stopped at Santa Maria for some more beach time. Before getting off at Santa Maria my father had bought 2 Mortadella sandwiches on the boat. I was reluctant to eat it as I am not a huge fan of Mortadella, but I was hungry so I did. We also sailed by the pink beach of Budelli, from far away it didn't look so pink.

About an hour later my stomach felt odd, so I went back to the boat and had... well, there's no easy way to put it, bathroom issues. I went back to the beach for the rest of the allowed time. When we got back to the boat I had more issues, and then I started getting sick. The rest of my day (probably about 2 1/2 hours worth of sailing around) was spent going back & forth to the bathroom. Toward the end I was so ill & sick of the sun I was sitting on the ground next to the bench we were sitting on with my towel over my head, resting my head on the bench. Everyone kept asking my dad if I was ok. The rest of that boat ride felt like forever...

When we finally got to Palau we started walking and I got sick one more time behind a car. I felt wretched but I was doing all the driving, so I had to get myself together to get back to the hotel to rest. That evening we just rested and I ordered room service. I think my "illness" had to do possibly with the sandwich (even though my dad was fine) and the overexposure to the heat, as well as just plain old seasickness which I have never had before.

I had really wanted to rent a small boat to explore little coves & beaches one of the days following this, but I was so traumatized from this particular day it never happened. Next time
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Old Sep 16th, 2004, 03:30 AM
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Shamelessly topping my trip report.
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