Going doolally over Dorgali

by Tracey.Davies

City breaks are so last season - this year it’s all about the sea. Revive yourself with a long weekend on the sun-soaked shores of Dorgali in Sardinia

Just two hours from the drizzle of Gatwick airport lies the Italian island of Sardinia. Once the kept mistress of the European elite, with the arrival of low-cost airlines to the island, Sardinia opened its doors to the oh-so-grateful budget traveller.
Just 50 minutes drive from Olbia airport, Cala Gonone is a more than worthy destination for a long weekend in the sun. Around its toy town harbour, the echoing chink of contented vessels fills the air. Cala Gonone is a small fishing village-cum-holiday resort and through the height of summer is overrun with holidaying Italians. They flock to this serrated coastline, for which the Dorgali region is famed, enticed by secluded coves of bleached white sand and sensational 360° views of the mountains, rock face and the sea. Locals and visitors alike are attracted to the cavernous appeal of the Grotte del Bue Marino, with its vast, echoing chambers and centuries of geological history. For a more tranquil time, visit either early season (May and June) or late season (September and October), when the temperatures are a perfect early 20°s and the ambience is chilled.
The main drag consists of a handful of three- and four-star hotels, gift shops, bars and gelaterias. I’m staying at the charming Hotel Pop. Named after the popcorn Grandpa sold in the Sixties, this alabaster-cool hostelry has both the best views and the best food in town. It overlooks the harbour and the Bay of Orosei, with waters so clear they surely must flow direct from the Indian Ocean.
The first night’s dinner at Hotel Pop was some of the finest seafood I have ever tasted, so for waistline reasons only, I am thankful that I’m just here for a weekend. Huge platters of antipasti: ruby-red carpaccio of beef layered with shards of parmesan, slivers of seared fresh tuna and swordfish with lemon and garlic. Followed by trays of chargrilled lobster, which was so fresh, I swear I saw it crawling up the beach before hopping on to a plate of spaghetti. This meal alone is worth flying to Sardinia for.
Saturday is spent languishing on a replica 1918 ketch once owned by the Fiat family. As we bob several nautical miles off the east coast, the tobacco-tanned, happy go-lucky crew takes care of our every need, whether it be freshly plucked and shucked oysters for lunch or pouring a chilled glass of rosé as an early afternoon aperitif. This really is the way to spend a weekend.
Short breaks in the sun can be as beneficial as a week and possibly more practical in our current financial climate. Couple this with the low price and short flight time, and sunshine breaks in Sardinia are more accessible than you may think. So go, soak up the sun, paddle in the clear, clear seas and feast on the freshest seafood in all the land, all for the price of a weekend in Bruges.