ITALY


Sardegna, Italy 2014

It was again the time of the year when we usually go on our October family holiday. We decided to visit a place where we have already been 13 years ago. At that time we were students with very little money to spend and we didn’t really see anything of the Island. Now it was time to discover some of the hidden treasures of Sardegna. Our flights were booked 8 months before and we landed on 5th of October in Cagliari. We have decided to leave the north side of the island in peace and discover some places located in the south/east. Our trip was divided into 3 stages and for each stage we have chosen a camping place located in the area of our interest.

Sardegna 2014 Map

We spent the first 3 nights at Villaggio Camping Spiaggia del Riso which is located at beautiful Capo Carbonara. Capo Carbonara together with the nearby Cavoli Island and Serpentara Island is included in the Protected Natural Marine Area of Capo Carbonara. It is a perfect spot for nature lovers with lots of beautiful beaches. The Marina of Villasimius is just 5 minutes walk from the campsite. From here a lot of different excursions are organized and boats can also be rented. The campsite is located directly at the sea with Spiaggia del Riso beach in front of the campsite. It has a sandy beach on the left and rocks on the right. Instead of staying at Spiaggia del Riso beach we preferred the Fortezza Vecchia Beach which is much better for snorkeling.

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Beach at Fortezza Vecchia, Villasimius

Spiaggia del Riso

Spiaggia del Riso

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Shortly after sunset at Spiaggia del Riso. View on the Marina of Villasimius

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Bungalow Back Banana at Villaggio Spiaggia del Riso

While walking through the Marina of Villasimius we passed at the office of blueblunoleggio, which had a nice brochure with motorized dinghies for rent which in the low season cost 140 Euro for a full day plus petrol. It was never our plan to rent a boat but after short talk with a guy in the office and 10% family discount we decided to go for it and booked the cheapest dinghy they had. It was a 5m long BWA 510 Platinum line with a capacity of 8 people. Our boys were delighted and were asking the same question till the day ended: Can I drive the boat tomorrow ?? I can only say that I was probably as much excited as they were… I have never steer a motor boat before ….

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Motorized dinghy BWA 510 PLATINUM LINE

The next day everybody was ready for the new adventure and we were exactly at 9:00 AM in the blueblunoleggio office. The guy in the office was professional and explained us everything we need to know while cruising through the protected area. We were given a map of the area and he showed us all the critical spots where we had to be careful and mind the rocks. After the verbal introduction we went on the dinghy and got familiar with all the important features of the boat. After that he left us alone and off we went to the open sea! It was a hot, sunny day and there was a great adventure ahead of us… Speeding on the open sea…This is how freedom feels like 🙂 At the open sea I gave the steering wheel to my sons but I had to remind them all the time to keep the speed at a reasonable level…

Capo Carbonara Map

Map of Carbonara Cape

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Who is next at the steering wheel ? This time it is my 5 years old son.

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Natural Reserve of Carbonara Cape

After leaving the Marina we went straight to Isola dei Cavoli. The sea was not really calm and we had to be very careful here. There are a lot of rocks here. Some can be seen but others are hidden below the water surface. But we finally found a good spot to set the anchor and we stopped for snorkeling. The water was very clear with very good visibility. Lots of fishes in this area. After the snorkeling break we decided to leave the area and not to take any additional risks with kids.

One of the biggest diving attraction at Isola dei Cavoli is the 3.2m tall statue of Madonna del Naufrago which is located a few meters of the shore, about 10m below water table.
Every year on the third weekend of July, the Madonna is celebrated in honor of the souls of the unfortunate sailors missing at sea and invokes the protection of those who go to sea. On Sunday, after the celebration of a special mass at the Port, there is a procession of boats covered with flowers that go to the Island. On the sea bottom, in front of the statue the local village priest together with a team of divers recites a ritual prayer which is heard, with the help of speakers, by followers on various boats who play their sirens as a form of respect and throw wreaths of multi-coloured flowers into the water. This must be a very interesting spectacle….
We were told about the statue by the rental boat operator but having 2 kids on the boat we didn’t even try to find the spot. Anybody trying to find the statue underwater should have a GPS or study the maps carefully before the departure. The exact location of the statue can be found in the web. For example HERE)

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Madonna del Naufrago near Isola dei Cavoli. Photo taken from http://www.subaquadive.it

We made the next stop at a beautiful beach Cala Pira which is located after the famous Spiaggia di Punta Molentis. The rules will tell you that you have to anchor the boat 200m from the public beach. You can approach the beach closer only to set up the passengers. But having waves in the shore direction and 2 kids on the boat it was not an easy task … I have approached the beach as much as possible and everybody went off the boat and swum towards the beach. When I was going back to stay 200m away from the shore there was already the life guard screaming at me … You can obviously stay 200m from the shore and then swim to the shore. But swimming 200m with some luggage (towels, food etc) would not be good fun…
Cala Pira beach was a great spot with clear water and beautiful sand. We stayed there about 1 hour and then continued our trip. Leaving the beach and getting on the boat was again an exercise …
After that we went to Spiaggia di Punta Molentis. It was quite crowdy (I can only imagine this beach in the peak season) so we didn’t go on the beach. We anchored our boat about 250m from the shore and enjoyed the views from the boat.

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Cala Pira Beach

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Our boat anchored in front of the Cala Pira beach

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Spiaggia di Punta Molentis – panoramic view from the boat

After 3 days in the Capo Carbonara region we went off to Province of Ogliastra where we stayed 4 nights in a bungalow at Camping Le Cernie. Camping Le Cernie is located in Lotzerai, directly on the sea (it was only about 50m from our bungalow to the beach), not far from the Gennargentu National Park.
Gennargentu is a large massif with mountains rising to a height up to 1800 m. The Gennargentu National Park has everything to offer: from beautiful trekking (like the famous Selvaggio Blu which is considered the wildest and most beautiful trek in Italy ) to the most beautiful beaches in Europe (Cala Mariolu, Cala Goloritze). The location of camping Le Cernie is just a perfect starting point to discover the Gennargentu area.
We spent the first day playing around with kids on the Le Cernie beach and then decided to walk on the beach until we get to the first village. We arrived at Santa Maria Navarrese where we had nice dinner in a restaurant on Tancau Beach. After the dinner walked back on the beach to the campsite. The full moon helped us to find the way back home…

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Our bungalow at Camping Le Cernie

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Digging holes on the beach at Le Cernie

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Restaurant at Tancau Beach. Our kids going wild in the full moon…

The next day we decided to pushed our kids to the limit 🙂 We decided to do the trekking from Golgo to Cala Coloritze. It starts from a place called su Porteddu located at an altitude about 400m. There is a small bar there and a place to leave the car. The total ascend/descend of the trail is about 550m and the stony path leads through a well-wooded terrain. Before starting the tour we were not sure if our kids (5 and 8 years old) will make it because the route was classified as moderate/difficult. Some of the people we saw on the trail were wearing high hiking shoes like they were going to a peak in swiss Alps … We made it in sandals 🙂 Kids were also wearing sandals…. Nevertheless I would recommend wearing proper shoes for this trekking because the path is very stony and I saw 3 or 4 broken sandals on the trail … Maybe we were just lucky that our sandals were good quality …
It took us about 1 hour 40 minutes to reach the stunning beach Cala Coloritze. But the view at the end will cure any pain you had on your way 🙂
The beach is very beautiful but small, so I would not go for this tour on a busy day or in high season. It may get very crowded in the season. Cala Coloritze is also a popular spot for climbers due to the incredible 143m high Aguglia di Goloritzé.
Going back was the hardest part of the tour because the path goes from 0 to 500m altitude before going down to su Porteddu at altitude 400m.

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Map of the trail to Cala Goloritze

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Just at the end of the trail. Looking down at the turquoise sea at Cala Goloritze

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Cala Goloritze

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Cala Goloritze

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Cala Goloritze with the Aguglia di Goloritzé behind

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Cala Goloritze

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A friendly (or rather hungry) donkey on the way back from Golgo to Baunei

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A typical scene which could be seen in many Italian cities. This one is at the church in Baunei

The last day in Ogliastra we spend on the beach, doing some birdwatching at Rio Pramaera located just next to the campsite. We did also a cycling tour around Lotzorai on bikes rented from agribike-ogliastra. The rental company is very reliable and will even deliver bikes to the campsite.
We also visited the Orri Beach in Tortoli. The beach of Orrì is characterized by shallow waters that allow children to play.
And not to forget: Panetteria Ferreli a Via Milano 37 has the best snacks and hot chocolate in Lotzorai!

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Family-Nightlife at Camping Le Cernie beach

After leaving Province of Ogliastra we headed south/west direction Teuleda where we were planning to spend last 3 days of our holiday. We had no accommodation booked for our last 3 nights but from our previous experience in Italy we knew that having a chat with a lady in supermarket may be enough to find out where we could find a place to stay…. The situation was solved before we even got to a supermarket. We arrived at the coast of Teulada at about 2pm and decided to have a short break at Spiaggia Piscinni and just when we entered the beach an Italian guy stopped us gave us some information about the beach and the protected area on the beach where it is not allowed to walk. After a short conversation I mentioned to him that we are looking a place to stay and his wife immediately called Camping Torre Chia and booked a bungalow for us. What a great people Sardinians are!

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Spiaggia Piscinni, Teulada

We spent our last 2 days mainly on Spiaggia di Tuerredda snorkeling, building sandcastles with kids and enjoying cold Mojito…
Spiaggia di Tuerredda together with the Isola Tuaredda is a great spot for snorkeling. Especially the part around the island is very good. The island is only about 100m from the beach and there is no problem to get to the island even for a bad swimmer.
We have also visited Spiaggia di Su Portu which is located directly in front of the Camping Torre Chia. From here we walked to the Torre Chia and then explored Isola Su Cardolinu.

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Snorkeling with my 8 years old son, Spiaggia di Tuerredda

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Mojito at Spiaggia di Tuerredda. Isola Tuaredda in the background.

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Our copy of Torre di Capo Malfatano, Spiaggia di Tuerredda. Capo Malfatano in the background.

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Family Project: Sandcastle, Spiaggia di Tuerredda

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Spiaggia di Su Portu, Chia

One of the places on the island which can not be left without paying a visit is of course the city Cagliari. Without any plan and list of places which we have to see, we just went on and walked through the streets enjoying the atmosphere of the city. It is a very lively place, especially in the evening, with lots of bars, cafe bars and gelateria’s. Our favorite gelateria was L’Isola del Gelato at Piazza Yenne where we went twice on that day….
With the short visit in Cagliari we have finished our beautiful holiday and left home the next day from Cagliari Airport. Camping Torre Chia, where we stayed, was a perfect location for us because it took only about 40 minutes drive to get to the airport. Goodbye Sardegna … Arrivederci bella Sardegna.. A presto!

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Cagliari

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Ice Cream Paradise at L’Isola del Gelato, Piazza Yenne, Cagliari

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Cagliari

LINKS:
www.villaggiospiaggiadelriso.it – Villaggio Spiaggia del Riso
www.campinglecernie.it – Camping Le Cernie
www.campeggiotorrechia.com – Campeggio Torre die Chia
Map of best beaches in Sardegna
www.ciaosardinia.com
www.turismo.ogliastra.it – Lots of brochures and maps to download
Area Marina Protetta Capo Carbonara
www.agribike-ogliastra.it – Bike Rental in Lotzerai, Ogliastra
Information about Natural Reserve of Carbonara Cape from www.sea-seek.com
www.marinadivillasimius.it – website of Marina of Villasimius
www.blueblunoleggio.it – Boat rental at Marina of Villasimius
www.summitpost.org – Info about Aguglia di Goloritzé


City Break Rome, Italy 2014

Finally managed to organize a city break with my mother and brother! 3 days in Rome. I’m so glad we had this time together 🙂

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We stayed at B&B Abitazione Pigneto ( http://abitazionepigneto.freshcreator.com ) located on Via Perugia 16 about 7 tram/bus stops from Stazione Termini ( Tram 5 or 14 ). It is an apartment on 4th floor adopted for B&B with 3 rooms to rent. The Kitchen and balcony was used by all inhabitants. Basic breakfast was served on balcony by the owners living next door. Giorgio and Fulvio are very good hosts and gave us very useful advises such as to buy tickets to the Colosseum at the entrance to Forum Romanum instead of cuing at the Colloseum (It saved us at least 1 hour !)

There are a lot of small bars and restaurants in the vicinity (most of them are located on Via del Pigneto). Very little tourists in the area which is just perfect for somebody who likes to mix with locals. In the evening it is a lively place with Italian atmosphere.

Via del Pigneto

Via del Pigneto in the evening

You have on one side the Romans living their Italian live in bars and restaurants and on the other side immigrants hanging around with less or nothing to do. Watch out your belongings while being in Rome and don’t underestimate pickpockets ! They are really processional ! My brother got rid of his digital camera in the tram. It was in his jeans pocket and suddenly it was gone…

My favorite restaurant: MalaVite Risto, Via Pesaro 8. Very small restaurant with only about 6 tables but great food and unique atmosphere.

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Trattoria MalaVite Risto

First day of our stay was a real marathon … Felt like a Japanese tourist having only 1 day to see Rome …
We started with the Basilica of St. John Lateran and then went so see the Colosseum and Forum Romanum. On the way we visited also Basilica San Clemente.
After that we headed towards Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi visiting Pantheon and Fontana di Trevi on the way.

Coloseum

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The Colosseum , “Amphitheatrum Flavium”

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Forum Romanum

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Forum Romanum

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Vittorio Emanuele II monument. Due to it’s unusual shape the building is also called “the typewriter” (in Italian: “La macchina da scrivere”)

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Piazza Venezia

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

We started the next day with my favorite activity: visiting food market ! Campo de’ Fiori is my favorite place in Rome. It is one of the “must do” things while being in Rome. Go to the market, buy some fresh food, try different liquors sold on the market, buy freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and then go to the Forno Campo de’ Fiori and buy some fresh bread. You can now enjoy your breakfast sitting on the steps of the Statue of Giordano Bruno and watch everything around you … I love this place !

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One of the shops at Campo de’ Fiori

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Campo de’ Fiori

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Campo de’ Fiori

After a beautiful morning at Campo de’ Fiori we headed to Vatican to see the St. Peter’s Basilica. On the way we passed by a building with following sign:

Antimafia

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St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

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Weeping Angel, St. Peter’s Basilica

The third day we took it easy and walked through the city visiting different places. Even after many days in Rome there will always be something new to discover …
On the fourth day early in the morning I went for a walk in the city. It was Sunday and the city was very quiet and peaceful. These are some shots I took on the way…

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Liguria, Italy 2011

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Sicily, Italy 2005

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Sardegna, Italy 2001

During my abroad semester at Politecnico di Torino in Italy, I managed to save some money and do a low budget trip to Sardegna. The trip had to be well planned because the budget available was really limited… I was a poor student at that time 🙂 We took a train from Torino to Genova and then walked to the Genova port. We were really sweating when we arrived to the port where our Tirrenia ferry to Alghero was just about to depart ! The breeze coming from the sea and a bottle of white wine which I got for my birthday from my friends from Chile made us forget all the sweating. Thanks guys for the wine! This is still one of the best wines I had so far.

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Finally on the deck … But we don’t know yet that a storm is coming…

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Overlooking the Genova bay

We obviously didn’t know that a storm is coming when we settled in our cabin … We were bouncing from one wall to the other in order to get to the restaurant, where some guys were sitting at the bar singing in Sardegnian dialect. The storm was a great nature spectacle for me but made the journey quite uncomfortable for my wife … The bottle of wine helped her to get asleep.

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Good, old Tirrenia survived the storm …

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At Alghero port

When we arrived to Alghero all the passengers got into cars,taxis and buses which were waiting for them and we stayed alone in the port wondering what did we do wrong 🙂 We had to hitchhike for 30 min to get a lift to the city.
We stayed at a camping in Alghero located directly at the sea. Our breakfast was mainly bread with pâté and a bottle of Aragosta white wine produced in Sardegna. A few years later I walked to a wine shop in Dublin and spotted a bottle of Aragosta on the shelf. Couldn’t believe my eyes! All the memories came back when we opened it at home.

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Alghero bay at sunset

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Alghero

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On the way back to Genova

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