One Of Europe’s Best Destinations Off The Beaten Track: Portixeddu, Southwest Sardinia

Article by Joanne Shurvell first appeared on Forbes Magazine on 31st May 2018.

View of Portixeddu from the hilly coastal road to Buggerru photo by

Sardinia with the lure of mountains, beaches, sunshine and seafood has been on our hit list for a while. The Italian island is sparsely populated even though it’s the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (Sicily is larger), covering an area of 24,100 square kilometres (9,305 square miles). But unlike Sicily and mainland Italy, Sardinia isn’t earthquake prone.

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Beach Retreat – the infinity pool at dusk, Portixeddu, Sardinia photo by

While most visitors to Sardinia tend to head north east to the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and its main resort, Porto Cervo, the summer playground for Italy’s elite, we decided to venture to the unspoiled area in the south west. Not geared up for tourists by any stretch of the imagination, our holiday destination, Portixeddu, has no hotels, no shops and only a couple of restaurants. If you’re looking for a peaceful, stunningly beautiful vacation spot and you love outdoor pursuits, Portixeddu is just the ticket.

View of Portixeddu from Beach Retreat photo by

Portixeddu is about 85 km from the airport of the capital city Cagliari and accessed by one of two roads, a coastal road or a mountain road. The mountain route is slightly faster but both provide beautiful routes to the southwest.

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Dining with a view at Beach Retreat, Portixeddu, Sardinia photo by CV Villas

Although visitor accommodation in Portixeddu is fairly scarce, it’s such a lovely place that no doubt once word about the area’s obvious charms spreads, there’ll be more choice. For now, there are several villas available to rent and CV Villas manages the Beach Retreat, one of the best villas in the area.

Beach Retreat, Portixeddu, Sardinia photo by

We stayed in the lovely Beach Retreat, an eight-bedroom villa in a spectacular position perched on a hill with panoramic views of Portixeddu beach and the surrounding mountains and farmers’ fields.

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Barbecue area at the Beach Retreat, Portixeddu, Sardinia photo by CV Villas

In addition to bright, modern interiors with interesting artwork and eight bedrooms, most with ensuites, the three floor villa offers a well equipped modern kitchen with everything you could possibly need, an outdoor barbecue with a shaded dining area, a games room and fantastic outside terraces. A long shaded terrace, facing the sea, runs the length of the villa with a long table for alfresco dining.

The infinity pool at the Beach Retreat photo by CV Villas

Outside, a large (15 metre long) private infinity pool sits among lush lawns and expansive gardens. There are plenty of deck chairs and loungers to relax on while taking in the panoramic views of mountains and sea. Guests are welcome to pick and eat from the fruit trees in the garden at the Beach Retreat – oranges, figs, kumquats and on the ground are blackberries which start ripening in July. Slightly more challenging to pick but delicious are the prickly pears (fichi d’India/cactus fruit).

Beach view from Ristorante L’Ancora, Portixeddu  photo by

If you stay at the Beach Retreat, barbecuing outdoors or using the well-equipped kitchen are good options. There isn’t a supermarket in Portixeddu but the nearby villages, Buggerru and Fluminimaggiore both have small supermarkets. Fruit and vegetable roadside stalls also offer local olive oil. For an authentic experience where you can drink, dine and socialise with the locals and feel like a local yourself, there are a handful of restaurants all serving hearty, tasty food sourced locally and very reasonably priced.

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Typical Sardinian pastry served at Ristorante L’Ancora, Portixeddu photo by

Sardinians eat from the sea so most menus include squid, clams, prawns and white fish. Lambs join you for lunch at Bar Ristorante L’Ancora where you’ll drink and dine with the locals. This laid-back family run trattoria overlooks the beach at Portixeddu. The farmer who supplied the goats cheese in one of our dishes was eating behind us while a local shepherd brought in a cute duo of lambs while we had lunch. Clams in a spicy tomato sauce were perfectly prepared by chef Maria Pinna. The seafood is fantastic as is the dessert, a baked “ravioli” pastry stuffed with sweet ricotta – sort of like a Sicilian cannoli but lighter. We washed it all down with a rather lethal shot of home made Mirto, a liqueur made from the myrtle plant.

Trattoria del Sole e della Luna near the Beach Retreat, Portixeddu photo by

At the bottom of the road from the Beach Retreat is the brilliant Trattoria del Sole e della Luna run by Luca who cooks a different menu each night, using only seasonal and local ingredients. For 25 euros we had a fine feast of antipasti, roasted lamb, free-flowing wine and liqueurs and dessert.

Gorgeous, windswept, deserted beach at Portixeddu, Sardinia photo by

Portixeddu has a wide sandy 3km long beach equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas for hire from kiosks that also sell drinks and rent pedalos, during the season (approximately end-June to mid-October). Boat excursions are also possible from the harbour in Portixeddu and in Buggerru.

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View of Buggerru, Sardinia from mountain coastal path photo by

This area is ideal for outdoor activities. Beach Retreat offers a selection of good bikes and wetsuits for guests’ use. The villa is just a short walk or bike ride from a long sandy beach at Portixeddu. Or, if you’re feeling more energetic, cycle about 7km along the mountainous coastal road to Buggerru.

Video by

Buggerru, a village about 7 km from Portixeddu, makes an excellent daytrip by car or bicycle. The coastal route is hilly but gorgeous so our hard work peddling was rewarded by stunning views along the way. And Buggerru also has a lovely beach with clear water, deserted when we visited in May and likely never busy, even in peak season. The area around Buggerru is also famous as the location for Derek Jarman’s 1976 film Sebastiane.

Staying and Getting there:
There are direct flights from London to the closest airport, Cagliari, on British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet. From there it’s advisable to rent a car as public transport to southwest Sardinia, while fine, isn’t frequent. From North America, fly via Rome where there are numerous flights to Cagliari. We stayed at CV Villas’ Beach Retreat, Portixeddu, which sleeps up to 16 people but discounts are given for smaller groups and prices vary according to season. Phone +44 (0)207 261 5402 or visit to find out more.

Article by Joanne Shurvell first appeared on Forbes Magazine on 31st May 2018.



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