Asinara island and Stintino
Look at the stars and enjoy the silence
If you feel like staying immersed in the nature for a while longer and enjoying more gorgeous sea, visit Asinara island.
From Castel Sardo, go to Stintino. You won’t have any problem in finding a cheap bed and breakfast for one night. The following morning, well early in the morning, hop on a ferry from the harbour of Stintino to Fornelli, on Asinara Island. My advice is to book a tour of the island on a jeep (you can look for one of the companies running the tour on the official webpage of the island, which unfortunatly is only in Italian). This will allow you to have a guided tour of the various sites of historical and natural importance, among them the historic jail of and of Cala d’Oliva and of Fornelli, and the beautiful beaches of Cala Sabina, Cala Trabuccato and Cala d’Arena, where the sea is clean, transparent and full of fishes. This is a protected area so nobody can go fishing. You can also go on one of the many hikes (all of them are free and well signalled) or opt for a bike tour (a bit harder, under the sun!).
Asinara was originally a fishing community, which later on became a penal criminal colony, a peasant colony and leper hospital centre, to be finally turned into a maximum security jail which hosted, among others, mafia boss Totò Riina. It was finally turned into a National Park in 1997. The island made the national and international news when, from 24 February 2010 for over a year a group of reduntant workers of Vinyls (a petroleum company based in the nearby Porto Torres) occupied the old prison of Cala D’Oliva in a protest to be returned to their job.
My advice is to spend at least a night in Asinara. There is only one hostel in the entire island. This used to be a guest house for prison guards and it is rather plain, but with a relaxing atmosphere. There is no kitchen use but meals (dinner and breakfast) are included in the price and are consumed family style. You can also have packed lunches. There are private rooms and dorms, all with shared bathroom, but the place is clean and the staff friendly, and you will have plenty of chances to get to know other guests. After dinner, go for a walk to look at the stars and enjoy the silence. In the only bar in Cala D’Oliva, where guests of the hostel meet for after dinner drinks, you will be soon enough reached by Andrea, a goat who will go around begging for salt and pats; you will see boars walking around, a number of cats and white donkeys.
Once you (sadly) leave Asinara, since the ferry lands in Stintino, don’t miss the chance to spend a day in one of the most beautiful (and crowded, to be honest!) beaches in Sardinia: La Pelosa. Fighting for a few centimiters of sand will be the price to pay in order to enjoy the gorgeous, calm sea. But it will be worth it!
by Claudia Tavani