Sailing Sardinia from the island of Carloforte (Part I)

Experience Italian charm while sailing in Sardinia

7th Nov 2018

LateSail Yacht Charter Assistant, Kyle, has been off on his travels again, this time to Sardinia. Read part one of his adventure, here…

I was recently invited to join one of our trusted partners for a weekend to discover what Sardina has to offer our customers. I had the absolute pleasure of travelling down to the ever-sunny,  Sardina, and more specifically, to the colourful and friendly town of Carloforte on San Pietro Island. Here’s how I got on…

Being October in the UK, the nights are drawing in and the days are turning cold. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed at the opportunity to head to Italy, one of my dream places to visit. I flew from from Luton Airport to Cagliari at lunchtime and arrived in Carloforte marina six hours later, including the short ferry trip to the island. (this also included a rather painful queue at customs so all in all, pretty easy).

Upon arrival in Cagliari, we were greeted by one of the crew from the charter company,hopped in her car and headed towards the south west of Sardinia. We took a bit of a scenic route, travelling towards the coastline and down to the ferry port, passing through pretty little towns along the way.

The journey took us through Nebida, which used to be the main place for mineral extraction and distribution in Italy. Now decommissioned, it has large valleys through the hills of the coastline and  a beautiful coastal road where you could see San Pietro Island in the distance, as well as Porto Flavia (which we got a great view of later on in the trip).

Shortly before reaching the ferry port, we passed through the town of Portoscuso. The town is popular among sailors, especially those starting from Carloforte. Often, charter boats spend a day or evening at a mooring there while sailors explore the streets of Portoscuso, where you will find many shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s a lot larger than Carloforte and offers a fair bit more than the smaller town across the water does.

The ferry across to Carloforte is about 30-minutes long and when you arrive on the island, the marina is a stone’s throw away (something that would prove very useful to me at the end of the trip!). The channel of water between Portoscuso and Carloforte is actually really shallow and, more recently, the surrounding areas of Italy and the islands have become connected. The deepest it becomes at any point is around 10 meters. This is proven when sailing across the channel in the daylight. You can see the seabed the whole way across if the water is calm enough and it’s not until you travel north of the channel you find much deeper water.

We eventually arrived at the marina at around 8pm and were greeted by some more members of the company along with some fellow brokers. Our dinner that evening was at Bistrot, a local restaurant in the town. We were all greeted by the owner of the venue, who explained that our meal that night and the following evening were all planned and prepared ready for our arrival – we didn’t touch a menu for the whole time we were there. This allowed us to experience some of the local dishes and not be tempted by a safer alternative (something which I definitely would have done).

For starters, we experienced a number of fish dishes including an interesting local speciality called bottarga, which is a dish made with tuna eggs that have been flattened into small disc-like shapes. If you have read about my trip to Trogir, you may know that I’m not really a big fan of fish at all but the fish lovers at the table said it was delightful.

While we are on the subject of food and, more specifically, fish, Carloforte is known for its wonderful selection of tuna dishes. The main reason for this is largely down to the island’s annual tuna fishing event, Girotonno. The event is held in May at the same time as a large stream of tuna swim past the island. The locals believe they must not waste a single part of the fish and their dishes include regular fillets, eggs, heart and entrails.

For our main dish, the kitchen had prepared an astonishing amount of pizza in a unique way. The dough is prepared over 72 hours, which apparently prevents it from expanding in your stomach and makes it a much lighter meal. The food was delicious and made for a lovely end to a long travel day.

We awoke on Friday morning and had a day of sailing ahead of us but before this, we headed back into town to what the locals refer to as the best patisserie there is! We walked into Caffe Vergnano and peered through the glass counter at the array of mouthwatering pastries on offer. I have absolutely no idea what I ate, but it seemed to be some sort of fancy Italian chocolate biscuit. Anyway, it was amazing and was well watered down by an Americano coffee.

We walked back to the boat and discovered that we would travel back across the shallow channel towards Porto Flavia. We sat on the bow of the yacht as we travelled under engine for a while, mingling with some of the others onboard. We were then disturbed by the skipper shouting from the helm, “Delfino! Delfino!”and a small group of dolphins were just ahead of us! As first impressions go for sailing in the region, I don’t think it could’ve been much better! I even managed to catch a snippet of film as they swam alongside. Check out our LateSail Instagram page to see this and a whole range of other images from the trip.

As we cruised across the channel, we could see the sharp, steep face of Scoglio Pan di Zucchero. From a distance, you could not tell that this was a separate island, as it blended in with the rest of the coastline so well. It’s not until you arrive closer that you see a dazzling, lone little island. We circled completely around the island, making for great views at every stop. You also come closer to Porto Flavia. Here, they used to mine minerals and load them straight from the cliff face onto receiving ships.

After taking in the views, we anchored up just off of the island. The hostess onboard prepared a lovely meal which we all tucked into, not before jumping into the clear waters which were surprisingly warm for October! At the meal, I learned something very, very valuable. I despise wasps and strongly believe that the world would be a better place without them. We were shown that burning coffee in a bare pot actually acts as a repellent so, if you can position the pot so the smoke doesn’t choke you to death, you can enjoy your lunch at anchor, completely wasp-free!

After lunch, we headed back towards Carloforte, the wind was great and we got the sails up as we glided towards our destination. The Oceanis 45 seemed to travel glamorously across the water. The weather was beautiful while the going was swift and relaxing. Upon arrival at the marina, we were greeted by a tour guide who planned to take us through the small town and explain some of its history to us.

There’s quite a lot of history on the island, but its main inhabitants came from Tunisia. The tour guide told us the story of the Tunisian people invading the island some 60 or so years after the locals had settled there. Slaves were taken but eventually, the island was reclaimed and saved by King Carlo Emanuele III.

That evening, we ate at Ristorante Da Vittorio. This time I opted for a vegetarian option of homemade spaghetti and tomato sauce…a man who dislikes fish can only stomach so much.

Keep tuned to find out what happens in the next installment. Take a look at our deal finder for the latest special offers to Sardinia or give our specialist agents a call on 01227 479900.

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