One of my favourite stops on the trip was Cagliari. Cagliari is the capital city of the Italian island of Sardinia. Gaining popularity for its swanky Emerald Coast in the north, which has become a celebrity playground, Sardinia actually has a mix of rugged terrain, medieval quarters, and white sand beaches.
If you ever find yourself in Cagliari and want to both enjoy the city and get yourself to the water as quickly as possible, make your way to the nearest scooter rental office like we did.
Once we got to the port, we headed towards the CarBusTec rental office, which was just short walk away. The men who worked there spoke excellent English and were very clear and professional with their instructions and processes. In just a few minutes, we were off on our two rented scooters. We told them that we didn't really have a plan but just wanted to go for an easy ride to a nice beach where we could relax for an hour or so. They suggested heading to Solanas.
We took the SP17, a panoramic coastal road that took us past beautiful cliffs, lush vegetation, and clear turquoise waters. Now, I'm an island girl who's used to white powder beaches and crystal oceans, so I'm usually quite hard to please. But the views we had on that ride to Solanas were breathtaking and made this island girl very happy.
Because we were in no rush (and made a wrong turn or two), it took us about an hour and twenty minutes before we got to Solanas. Solanas is a small village in the Sinnai province and is usually only just a bit over an hour away from the port of Cagliari. The man we rented the scooters from recommended we eat at Da Barbara Ristorante, which is known for their fresh seafood, but unfortunately we got there too early and it was still closed. Definitely one for the "to do" list on our next visit.
We spotted some beach bars from the road and found some parking. After a quick and simple pasta lunch (not exactly what we were planning, but we didn't have much time) we rented some beach chairs with umbrellas and prepared for an afternoon of complete relaxation.
I'd definitely recommend The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan for some beachside reading. Marina was a talented writer and journalist who was tragically killed in a car accident a few days after she graduated from Yale. The book is split into her fiction and non-fiction work -- I personally enjoyed her fiction part better. She has a way of writing that make characters stick in your mind and make you feel like they're people you actually know.
We heard that Sardinia is a no-go in August because the beaches get absolutely packed with people. We were lucky that during our mid-July trip, things weren't too busy. One thing we noticed about Sardinia as well was that most of the people we saw were Italians -- not necessarily Sardinians, but we hardly saw any foreigners enjoying the beaches.
On our way back into town, we made a quick detour and drove up to see the Castello di San Michele, which is a medieval castle dating back to the Byzantine period. Located on one of the highest hills in town, I was glad we were on scooters so that we didn't have to make the long climb up on foot. We didn't go down and enter the castle, but I honestly don't feel like we missed much.
Sardinia is definitely a place I'd go back to and I'd love to explore the luxurious northern part of the island and or do a adventurous trek through Ogliastra region in the east.