It is said that Sardinians have one of the highest number of centenarians in the world. Actually, they are in one of the five “blue zones” which identifies places that have more people per capita that are living over 90+ years of age. I set out recently to explore this amazing area and to also uncover a few pointers for a long life!
Sardinia garners a beautiful spot in the heart of the Mediterranean and is a destination that can be enjoyed best April to October. My recent visit to this Italian island revealed a kaleidoscope of stunning beaches, jutting cliffs, mountains, and lush landscapes. I was surprised to see the diverse plant and floral life. The resort I enjoyed had over 2,000 different plant and floral species. In addition, one of my early morning bike rides offered me a chance to see a rather large parrot perched atop a tree.
However, there’s more than the obvious beauty of an island paradise here. Sardinia offers a unique glimpse into ancient cultures. There are a number of archeological sites, throughout the island, ancient caves, tombs, and monuments. My visit to the ruins of Nora, which dates back to the Phoenicians around 800 B.C., was an opportunity to glimpse the amazing excavations of their actual dwellings, amphitheater, baths, and temples. With the assistance of a knowledgeable guide, the fascinating history of ancient civilizations come to life.
The capital of Sardinia is Cagliari, and the city has a number of interesting sites. Here you can enjoy great shopping and delightful open-air cafes amongst beautiful churches and historical buildings. Another delightful town I visited Pula, with its cobblestone streets, lively shops and restaurants, and the church of San Giovanni Battista located in the town square. I wandered through tiny alleyways only to find at one bend a little shop of all items made of cork. Sardinia is a place that enchants with a kind of wild brashness in its landscapes and yet is surrounded by the calming sea. For many in Sardinia, walking and biking area a way of life and certainly a contributor to their longevity.
Forte Village Resort
Soft creamy sand beaches and stunning gardens lay along the coast of Sardinia within the Forte Village Resort. This property offers five different five-star hotels on the property, three four-star hotels, and 11 luxury villas, so there are options suitable for families, couples, singles, and larger groups. There are discreet bungalows for the couples who seek privacy and great options for families close to activity centers for the youth. Forte Village truly depicts an island paradise. I was fortunate to stay in a four-bedroom villa called Margherita which faced the view of the Punta Su Passali mountains on one side but also had a short walk to the beach on the other.
Activities for Everyone
The veritable playground right there at the resort has options to keep you busy or just relax in amazing surroundings. Their sports offerings are endless with water activities, as well as soccer, tennis, biking, and hiking. The resort offers various academies/clinics that train young athletes with techniques and skills to develop as athletes based on their sport of choice. They also bring in professional athletes such as soccer professionals Tore Andre Flo and Maximiliano Rosolino, various Olympic swimming medalists, and even world tennis champion, Karel Novacek to run some of their clinics! For those hoping to engage in something less athletic, there are chess clinics with one of the great chess players, Anatoly Karpo. My first morning started with a training session on Ayurveda Yoga, which dates back some 5,000 years (found on Sanskrit scrolls, called the Vedas) It means “knowledge of life,” and combines both physical, emotional and spiritual properties. Some of the poses were a bit challenging, but even more, was keeping my mind focused. However, upon completion, I felt a real sense of satisfaction and strength in my core.
Sardinia is an amazing place to take children, as they provide a plethora of activities for all ages. Forte Village offers a nursery for young children from newborns to three-years-old with a highly specialized staff to care for infants and allow parents some much needed free time. There are two child-friendly pools (always monitored by lifeguards) and an abundance of fun play areas. The Barbie Activity Center offers a chance to feel like a princess; but my absolute favorite is the fashion academy there where young people can create a jeweled photo frame, create t-shirts, and then enjoy a Barbie runway experience. Not to be outdone by the Barbie Center, is the Mario Village tied to Mario, their parrot mascot. There are a variety of games and activities for children of all ages to play here.
Energy levels are all accommodated, from the sedentary Arts and Crafts Centers where you can enjoy origami, ceramics, cooking, and painting. Then moving into Leisureland they offer a family-friendly bowling alley, a go-kart race track, and even a disco for teens. Finally, the most fun to be had is within the Aqua Park, which includes slides, rides, and all kinds of water play!
Finally, the nightlife is invigorating at this resort with their open amphitheater which offers live music every evening. There is also a revved-up disco that opens at midnight down by the beach, and of course a formal concert hall, which has boasted the likes of Botticelli and other famed artists.
Thalasso Therapy and Spa – A Healthy way to Indulge Yourself
For adults, there’s the most delightful activity of spa. This is not the standard spa, but rather an opportunity to experience techniques and services that dating back to ancient Roman times when the benefits of thalassotherapy (creating a method of detoxing, rejuvenating and improving the body) were invented. This resort has invested in research by specialists in the fields of medicine, sports therapy, and aesthetic treatments.
An afternoon spent in the Thalasso Spa amidst the soft drone of the morning rain only enhanced the experience. There are six pools each in the circuit with different health benefits and experiences aimed at detoxing and restoring balance. For example, the first pool is composed of salt and magnesium in very warm water that is meant to detox and infuse your muscles. Another pool was much cooler with mint and aloe-infused water to also heighten the muscle tone and other senses.
Fabulous Cuisine and Wine
Simplicity coupled with natural ingredients make for some of the finest dishes I have ever tasted. One of the reasons that can be ascertained for the longevity in its residences is the natural quality of the food. When I finished each meal, I actually felt like I was helping my body! During my visit to a local village I enjoyed, fresh from the sea, the carloforte tuna fish and clams. Another interesting dish was the red snapper in a spicy tomato sauce. A favored pastime among the locals and one I thoroughly enjoyed, was sitting enjoying pecorino and prosciutto with tomatoes and a glass of Cantina Santadi.
At Forte Village Resort, the culinary experiences are so diverse with the opportunity to visit up to 21 restaurants during high season, June – August. On average though there are always 8-10 restaurants open. A delightful cooking class under the tutelage of Executive Chef Paolo Simioni, offered me a chance to learn how to make a Vermentino wine sauce with Taggiasca olives and potatoes flavored with saffron with Sea Bass. Paolo noted, “My passion is choosing the best produce, and Sardinia is a gourmet’s paradise.”
The chefs always arranged a wonderful pairing with wine including a lovely Cantina Surrau white. My favorite was their red, called Turriga, which is a blend of a few different grapes, aged in French oak for 18-24 months, and then in the bottle for another 12-14 months! Turriga is bursting with bouquet and is also very rich in polyphenols, which is noted to be another secret to the longevity of the Sardinians.
Sardinia left an indelible image in my mind. Sometimes it’s just the opportunity to discover the moments, and I found a real sense of doing exactly that on the island. It’s been said that you need to travel far enough to meet yourself. Sardinia and its wild landscapes surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, and its lovely people will offer just the opportunity to accomplish this goal!
Frontiers would love to introduce our clients to this wonderful island. For those that continue to have a love affair with Italy, it is a wonderful addition to your travel plans.