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48-hours in Alghero? Here’s my picks!

Jun 26, 2024 | Travel | 0 comments

Alghero might have been my favorite city in Sardinia. Maybe because of its proximity to the water. Or perhaps because of its walkability. It could have been the friendliness of the people or the history contained within it. The delicious meals, the diversity of activities, and our hotel (Carlos V) with the oversized outdoor saltwater pool were definitely contributing factors. Whatever it was—Alghero had a wonderful, almost magical, vibe and I could easily see myself returning and spending a week exploring and writing there, if not longer!

Though it was a tough decision, here are my not-to-miss choices:

To eat

Thank goodness for Fiona! Not only did our tourmate (that’s her on the left) love to ferret out diverse restaurants, she always had the foresight to make a reservation before we took off in the morning. So, by the end of the day, when Judie and I were ready to nibble on a bag of pretzels in our room rather than try to figure out where to eat, our bundle of energy would offer a spot at her table, thus saving us from a massive attack of FOMO the next morning!

In Alghero her choice was L’ Incontro Dolce, a short and scenic stroll away. Opened during the pandemic by a young couple (he’s the chef, she’s the waitress) it’s an intimate spot with seating for a dozen or so parties, making it feel like you’re eating in someone’s dining room rather than a restaurant. The food was amazing! The “Chef’s Special” dish I chose was deceptively simple but hands-down one of the most flavorful pastas I ate while in Sardinia. Described as “Malloreddusu pasta served with yellow tomato sauce, fresh sausage, and aged pecorino cream”, I’m determined to try it at home this summer with my garden tomatoes; that’s how good it was.

By the time we left the restaurant, it had turned into a beautiful night. The full moon had risen and the city lights were gleaming below as the stars twinkled above. A truly magical evening and plenty of time to relax and enjoy it with new friends!

Sardinia is famous for coral; in its natural form, or in the special pieces tourists love to take home. Our local guide of the day took us to the Aquariumrubrum where a staff member there told us about the life and times of the coral itself, the scuba divers who harvest it, and the role of the Coast Guard and other groups in the process. He was enthusiastic about the topic and clearly enjoyed sharing his broad base of knowledge with us. I could easily have listened more and asked questions for another hour!

!!We also learned a bit about the Sardinian spumante these industrious islanders are creating, Akenta Sub, made from 100% Vermentino di Sardegna grapes then put 40 meters under the sea to age. Naturally, as a resident of the “winey” and watery Finger Lakes, this piqued my interest, especially when I heard that being refined under the salt water not only gives the sparkling wine an intense taste like no other, but also a unique presentation when it’s brought back up to the surface. Apparently maritime organisms create designs on the bottle, making each one as unique as a snowflake!

Our coral experience concluded a bit later with a stop at a coral shop where our lecturer showed us how the raw coral is turned into a piece of handmade jewelry. This outing wasn’t something I’d expected to enjoy as much as I did, but his enthusiasm and genuine respect for the environment completely won me over. I even purchased a delicate coral bracelet for a friend. If you ever visit Alghero, I highly recommend it!

Once in a lifetime…

The Neptune Caves/Grotta di Nettuno

We had no idea what to expect when we boarded a Gilligan’s Island-style boat and headed out on the deep water toward some austere-looking rocky cliffs in the distance. In the spirit of learning to take things as they came, we all pretended we didn’t find it odd that there were no orange life jackets anywhere in sight, let alone a safety presentation by the captain.

Pulling into the open mouth of a large cave, a gangplank was extended and our group of 12 clambered down it onto land. It was dark, dank, and dripping everywhere inside (as caves tend to be) so it took a moment for our eyes to adjust after the bright sunlight. As we started up a steep incline, I wondered what lay ahead. It didn’t take long to find out! The interior of the cave, with its grottos, stalagmites, and stalactites everywhere you turned was otherworldly. Photos don’t really capture the experience, but trust me, it’s enough to take your breath away.

Where will Secret Italia take us next? Until next time…

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