Updated 2018. Frequent Dream of Italy contributor Susan Van Allen recently released a new edition of her book 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go. She shares her advice for a perfect Sardinia beach day:
It was Queen Maria Theresa’s idea to name this town Santa Teresa, to honor the Spanish mystic. Plus it happened to be her middle name. In 1808, her husband, King Vittorio Emanuele I, obliged. He happened to be ruling the island. This spot on the northern tip of Sardinia had been prime territory for smugglers, as its curved harbor made it naturally perfect for doing sneaky things. Vittorio wanted to clean things up, so he had the town rebuilt in a neat grid plan and even offered plots of land for free to respectable folks who wanted to move in.
These days Santa Teresa di Gallura is a pretty resort town, more relaxed and less expensive than Costa Smerelda that lies to the east. Its former famous-for-smuggling harbor is filled with ferry boats that go to the Maddalena Islands and Corsica.
And on this island that has the best beaches in Italy, the Rene Bianca Beach that’s steps down from the town is prime. My friend Elizabeth spent two weeks here with her family recently, and loved Rene Bianca but couldn’t help scoping out surrounding spots. Even though other beaches were fun to watch windsurfers or go snorkeling, as far as classic beach-age, Rene Bianca was best.
It’s sheltered from the winds by the harbor and has fine white sand, opening to clear waters that change in color from pale blue to turquoise to deep cobalt at the horizon. If you get there when the tide is right, the shoreline is tinged with pink from coral fragments that wash up. There’s a restaurant, bar and umbrella and chair rentals.
This is a prime spot for Italian vacationers, which Elizabeth found out when she arrived there in August. “I never felt so white,” she told me, as she and her blonde family laid down their towels amidst the alligator-tanned Italians.
August may not be the best time to go, as Elizabeth told me it was towel-to-towel packed–so much so that in order to get a good space her husband would get up early and take the steps down to the beach to claim the family turf. But still, she found it divine, with her two boys, aged eight and ten, loving staying in the water for the entire day while she and her husband could read and drink Prosecco. There also were a few topless signorine who made quite the impression on her boys. Elizabeth said, “a few topless,” her husband, remembering the vacation fondly, chimed in, “There were four…”
If you’re not up for the August crowds, come here another time during the September to May resort season to enjoy yourself. But August can be fun, as that’s when there are celebrations honoring the town’s foundation, with musicians in the piazza and evening classical concerts in churches.
Golden Day: Relax at Rena Bianca and eat at Pape Satan (Via Lamarora 20, 0789 755048), where the pizza is out of this world and they also serve up fantastic seafood pastas.