This Italian Resort Is Home to Roman Architecture, a Seawater Spa, and Stunning Gardens

A-List travel advisor Andrea Grisdale shares her best tips — including where to stay — for traveling to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

Aerial view of boats along Costa Smeralda in Sardinia
Sardinia's idyllic Costa Smeralda coastline. Photo:

IC Bellagio

Sardinia, known among Italians, such as myself, as Sardegna, is known as one of Italy’s most desirable islands to visit. With stunning coastlines, interesting history — including the UNESCO-recognized Su Nuraxi di Barumini, a stone fortress dating back 3,5000 to the Bronze Age — fabulous food and wine, and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet, it’s high on my radar as a longtime travel advisor.

Here are my tips for experiencing the best of the island.

When to Go

While Sardinia is often considered to be a summer destination, I actually prefer visiting in the spring or late summer to avoid crowds (the island averages more than 300 sunny days per year.) During that time of year, I recommend staying in the southern part of the island, near the town of Santa Margherita, for its mild, subtropical climate. It's also a great base for quick access to the capital city of Cagliari and its nearby villages.

Related: This Italian Island Has a 'Wild Blue' Hiking Trail

Where to Stay

Exterior of Villa Margherita at Forte Village Resort
The Villa Margherita at Forte Village Resort.

Dario Sequi/Courtesy of Forte Village Resort

Recently I've spoken with travelers who have raved about the beautiful Forte Village Resort, which includes 10 hotels, many built in the style of classic Roman architecture, and 21 restaurants, spanning from casual eateries to fine-dining, Michelin-starred venues. The resort's Acquaforte Thalasso Spa focus on wellness through seawater therapy, and offers a full medical-oriented program — in addition to yoga and workout classes — according to guests' needs and expectations. 

Another resort highlight are the gardens, where 3,000 plant species (including those growing in the herb and vegetable garden) thrive, carefully tended by a team of more than 80 gardeners. Most of the food prepared at the resort is sourced from local farms and fishmongers. Some Forte Village Resort herbologists also work closely with local authorities on conservation projects to protect stretches of Sardinia's coastline.

A lot of effort goes into developing the resort's sustainability efforts. For example, “grey water” produced at Forte Village is used to irrigate the 123 acres of gardens and grounds, and at some of the hotel properties, hot water is generated through solar panels. The village is completely car-free: all transportation, from golf carts to bicycles, is powered by battery. To help protect the Mediterranean Sea surrounding Sardinia, Forte Village Resort works with Italian firm Ogyre Plastic to collect approximately 2,000 pounds of plastic waste each year.

More Trip Ideas: 13 Beautiful Italian Islands, From Popular Hot Spots to Underrated Gems

What to Eat

Of course, you can't travel to Sardinia without tasting local delicacies. One of my favorites is a type of paper-thin bread, baked with olive oil and rosemary, called pane carasau. Other favorites: the pecorino cheese, ricotta cheese, and spinach ravioli on the island are second to none. Sometimes farms will open to visitors and cook suckling pig over and open fire, served with rosemary potatoes. Sardinia’s best-known dessert are the seadas, traditional honey and cheese pastries.

Someone making Seadas, Typical Sardinian sweet fried ravioli with ricotta
Traditional Sardinian seadas are fried, filled with ricotta cheese, and drizzled with honey.

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Healthy Living

Another interesting aspect about Sardinia is that it is considered a Blue Zone, one of the areas of the world, according to the scholar Dan Buettner, in which there is a higher concentration of centenarians. Scientists believe this is due to the lifestyle of the local people which includes regular physical activity, religious faith, and strong belief in family and the power of human connection. (I also think the amazing food and wine has something to do with this too.) 

Traditional Events

Throughout the year, festivals provide a good opportunity to see traditional costumes and local handicrafts, hear local music and singing, and of course taste local produce at local food stalls. The biggest and most important is the Sant’Efisio Festival. Every May since 1657, more than 100 Sardinian villages gather in traditional dress to parade through Cagliari’s streets alongside decorated carts pulled by oxen. There are also many equestrian events, such as the Sa Sartiglia Carnival in the city of Oristano each February. This is the most spectacular and choreographed carnival in Sardinia — during each day of the festivities, skilled horsemen try to catch a star-shaped token with a sword or spear.

Women during the Procession Religiosa of Sant'Efisio, parade of traditional Sardinian costumes - Sardinia
Locals wear traditional dress in the Sant'Efisio Festival parade.

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Andrea Grisdale is a member of Travel + Leisure's A-List of travel advisors and creates custom trips across Italy. Contact her at

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