Five places in Sardinia for a long life
Sardinia is one of the five so-called, along with Okinawa (Japan), the Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece) and Loma Linda (California). Blue zones, in which people grow particularly old. These regions are therefore also under special scientific observation. It is assumed that the unusual accumulation of over XNUMX-year-olds is related to the fact that they eat particularly regional, seasonal and natural foods, exercise a lot in the fresh air, cultivate their cultural traditions and have a strong and intact social structure. Sheep farming, among other things, has provided the Sardinians with sufficient exercise for many centuries. The tradition of Cucina Poverta (literally "poor man's kitchen"), which is celebrated here, is particularly healthy because only homemade products, regional vegetables and local meat or fish is served. There is always plenty of olive oil and natural honey instead of sugar for sweetening.
The island status also made it possible for the Sardinians to apparently preserve some traditions from external influences for longer and thus also to attract a different kind of tourism - very close to nature and authentic. Only on the Costa Smeralda do the clubs and yachts of the super-rich line up, because Sardinia is an ideal stopover on Mediterranean sailing trips. The rest of the island doesn't care much about the hustle and bustle in the north-east. On the contrary, the Sardinians have managed to keep their beautiful island away from mass tourism as far as possible and have retained the charm of the original through special accommodation. We would like to present five special places and accommodations here and maybe we will get closer to the secret of a long life...
1. Il muto di Gallura – An agriturismo with history(s)
An agriturismo is a farm that is usually still active and earns additional money by renting it out to holiday guests. The nice thing about this type of accommodation is that they are usually family businesses that have been in the hands of the family for a long time and, in addition to the very good food, you also learn a story or two. The products used in the restaurant are mostly home-grown.
In the "Il muto di Gallura“ the cheese, the pasta and the wine are all homemade. That's why the homemade ravioli with ricotta filling and the organic red wine are really good. There are often three generations behind the stove and the recipes are well-kept family secrets. Before eating, you can stroll across the extensive grounds in the setting sun, swing and visit the donkeys, chickens, piglets or cows. After the meal, the friendly dogs accompany us back to the holiday home. It's better that way, because the red wine shows its effect and you fall into bed very happy and very tired.
The huts in the cork oak forest are wonderfully cool and furnished in a rather rustic Sardinian style. The rooms in the building as well. The breakfast room in the main house, where the excellent breakfast of homemade cakes, jams and cheeses is served, is a doll's house with many great old photographs of the family and their ancestors. The family has been renting rooms to holidaymakers since 1987 - incidentally, as one of the first farming families on the island. The name of the agriturismo (and the novel of the same name by Enrico Costa) is derived from a dispute over two hundred years ago between two shepherd families, in which there were some victims. Nowadays, however, things are very peaceful and relaxed here.
It takes about thirty minutes to get to the nearest beach on a country road with little traffic between olive trees and granite rocks. The town of Aggius is not far away and rightly carries an award for the particularly harmonious design of the old town. You feel right at home here. Life takes place on the street and when looking for a parking space, you make friends with the locals, who will provide you with parking tips. There are a few good restaurants and ice cream parlors. Delicious food is definitely one of the secrets to Sardinian longevity.
2. Aquae Sinis - A scattered hotel
"Aqua Sinis" is a so-called Albergo Diffuso - translated as "scattered accommodation". There are now over a hundred such places across Italy. Sometimes more luxurious, sometimes very simple. Most of the time, with this concept, the residents have taken the initiative to bring life back to their towns and villages while preserving their historical buildings and traditions. The concept is just as visionary as it is sustainable. Nothing new can be built, the original structure of the place must be used and preserved and the individual rooms and areas must not be more than one hundred and fifty meters from the reception. The street is the hotel corridor, so to speak, and the trattoria on the corner is the hotel bar. The guests come into even closer contact with the locals.
In Cabras, the hotel is made up of four buildings that have different functions. The main building ("Thermae") with the reception has a warm indoor pool with jacuzzi, a Turkish hamman, a Finnish sauna, a relaxation room and natural cosmetic treatments. The house "Mistras" has a wonderful pool and a natural garden with wild herbs and shrubs. The house "Pontis" is right next to it and both the cozy inner courtyard and the cool roof terrace invite you to linger. The excellent breakfast is served on the terrace. Since 2018, a fourth building ("Lagoon") has belonged to the hotel. There is a large terrace from which you can watch the birds of the lagoon. Everything is tastefully furnished with a successful mix of antiques, designer furniture and lots of flowers.
Cabras is a traditional fishing town on the west coast of Sardinia and is known for its fishermen's bars and the specialty "Bottarga di Cabras", which is called "Sardinian caviar". The roe is salted, pressed and dried in the sun. The taste is very spicy to smoky. The fish is usually grated over pasta or served as a starter with tomatoes, oil and thinly sliced onions.
On the Lagoon Lake stands the beautiful Renaissance Basilica of Santa Maria, which can be admired up close from the Albergo's roof terrace. The Museo Civico has exhibitions on the culture, ecology, flora and fauna of the lake. The beaches in the area are wild and windy as the west side of the island is rougher overall. In addition, the west coast is even more traditional and the local dialect called "Sardu" is kept alive here.
Perhaps another secret to long life on the island - the cultural identity is valued, nurtured and passed on to the younger generation.
3. Omu Axiu – A very lively open air museum
In the middle of the interior, where people grow old, the "Omu Axiu" is located in a place called Orroli. A building over two hundred years old that is an open-air museum, restaurant and hotel. Orroli is a small, somewhat inconspicuous place which, apart from its reservoir, is best known for being a station on the narrow-gauge railway line from Mandas to Arbatax. The so-called "Trenino Verde“ drives through beautiful landscapes in the summer months.
The whole courtyard of theOmu Axiu“ is very well maintained and family run. In the evening, candles, torches and fairy lights illuminate the inner courtyard and one inevitably has to think of a film set. Before the booked evening menu, the lively hotel manager takes us through the museum and gives us an exclusive and lively tour. She sits down at old sewing machines and spinning wheels and imitates their function, she demonstrates cooking on the old wood stove, quickly puts on the old costumes, pantomimes the historic pasta machine and shows us everything. She chats wonderfully in Italian the whole time. We understand little and still have a lot of fun together. This heartwarming humor is surely another secret to a very long and happy life.
The subsequent menu is sensationally good. Every product is made here in-house. The dishes are simple because the focus should be on the sensational products. It is very quiet in the yard and after the swallows the first bats are flying back and forth between the walls. I can even hear their wings flapping - a truly magical place.
4. Albero Capovolto - A modern host with tradition
Alessandro Israelachvili has made his parental home a veritable oasis made. The beautiful complex nestles against green hills and everything here is so tasteful and designed with a lot of art and design affinity and attention to detail. Every vase with flower arrangements and every coffee-table book is in the right place here, without you getting the feeling that you are not allowed to touch anything. On the contrary, everything is open and inviting. As soon as we enter the main house, a pleasant breeze blows towards us. The sea is not far away. The friendly lady first offers us a drink and guides us across the site. The well-kept garden and pool area with great daybeds, shady cloths as a canopy and various seating options blows our minds. We are almost alone at the pool in the afternoon and it is wonderfully quiet. The other guests come back later from their day trips.
In the evening we treat ourselves to a wine from the "Honest Bar" and are informed about the vegetarian menu that has been prepared for hours in the kitchen. At dinner, we get into conversation with a nice couple from Germany, who are here for the third time. When suddenly a thunderstorm comes up, all the guests help to collect the towels and cushions before it starts to rain really heavily. Dinner in the garden turns into a cozy get-together in the lobby, which is designed like a living room. And so everyone gets talking to each other and raves about the incredible nature of the island, which is certainly another secret for the happiness and contentment of the Sardinians.
5. Essenza Sardegna - the essence of it all?!!
The Essence Sardegna in Torpé is a very unusual place to stay. Everything you need for a long life comes together here. An open-air living room between the trees, natural food, lots of wild nature, no cell phone reception, soothing smells and colors in the rooms and at night you only hear dogs barking while the stars twinkle in the sky above you.
Cottage from 70 euros per night.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ESSENZA SARDEGNA
© Photos: Geraldine Voss, Essenza Sardegna
That makes you want to go to Sardinia!
Oh Sardinia! Thank you Geraldine for this journey of thought - beautiful words and pictures!
Finally a holiday destination. Thanks to the author!
Reading this is a bit like vacation. That is fun. Thanks very much.
I'm a fan of Geraldine Voss.
She writes beautifully.