A trip among incredible and breath-taking views in mysteriously charming lesser known areas and getting to know wines with unique flavour.

The long and sunny Costa Smeralda conceals an infinite number of places to seek out with passion and a touch of adventurous spirit. The beauty of a wild and unspoilt nature will only open up and show itself to those who venture out in search of it. And what better way to tackle this adventure than in a BMW Z4, a car that unleashes freedom and the pleasure of driving, giving free rein to your style and offering a complete panorama of what can be found along the way.

From Arzachena, head in the direction of Capo Testa. On reaching the Lighthouse area, about 150 metres before the car park, there is a wooden gate just after the Beach of the Two Seas bridge. It marks the entrance to Moon Valley. A short walk will lead you to an amazing and unusual place. A fairy-tale land. Tiny hidden coves and crystal-clear water in perfect contrast with the green nature, dotted with heathers, strawberry trees and immensely fragrant myrtles, that will suddenly sprout between the rocky, white granite walls with their anthropomorphic shapes. The way these rocks shine in the moonlight has given the little valley its name. The headland is also famous for hosting a group of hippies and naturists in the Seventies who built shelters there out of wood, straw and recycled materials.Leaving this wonder of nature behind, there are numerous small inlets, unspoilt beaches and hamlets to be found along the coast where life beats a slower and more relaxed rhythm. Places, like the area around Vignola, made up of tiny local businesses, farmhouse tourism and farmsteads. And some extremely interesting cheese companies, all small-scale producers, at which to buy delicious cheeses, like the fresh ricotta in Badesi, as well as wineries in which to taste red or rosé Cannonau, and other specialities. Not forgetting, of course, the bunches of local vegetables and Sardinia’s aromatic herbs.

A deviation inland will lead towards Aggius, in the direction of Tempio Pausania, to discover another Moon Valley, similar in some aspects to the one on the coast, but different in others. Here it is like being inside a science fiction story. Or in ancient sagas. There are the same granite shapes but, while the previous ones were just a small collection, here we are on a vast and silent plain, with a lookout that offers an incredible view and where, over the centuries, the rain and wind have wantonly and wildly shaped the rocks and transformed them into works of art by rounding them or creating cavities and fissures. There are some interesting farmhouse businesses here too. Going as far as Aggius, not to be missed are the Banditry Museum and the Olivia Carta Cannas Ethnographic Museum dedicated to Gallura traditions, including Aggius rug weaving.

The next stop is Tempio Pausania at the feet of Mount Limbara, where countless farmsteads in which to taste the local delicacies or home-cooking can be found. Amid roast suckling pig and farm cheeses, various cold cuts like suprissata, a salami flavoured with vinegar, pepper and salt, just have to be tasted, as well as roast goat in its typical local version with herbs and lard. Besides Vermentino, a typical wine in the area, also worth tasting is Moscato di Sardegna, often produced with the champenois method to make it sparkling, or Nebbiolo dei Monti Limbara, made by several small local wine producers. A quick tour of the town to admire the monuments, buildings and wonderful cathedral.

After taking in the delights of Conghias Lake, the next stop is Berchidda, famous for its Wine Museum and adjacent Regional Sardinian Wine Store, a facility created by the Mountain Community of Monte Acuto and Berchidda Municipality. On display, equipment illustrating the various phases of wine production used in the past and, thanks to a multi-media system, an explanation to contextualize the items exhibited, understand their correct interpretation and obtain information on the territory and the wine world in general. In terms of wine and food, besides the classic inland dishes such as Berchidda soup, bread, veal and mutton meat sauce, cheese and broth, or boar meat ravioli, grilled meats, game kebabs and ‘mustela’, a kind of ‘slinzega’ salami made of cured pork, other items that must definitely be tasted are Pecorini cheeses and the various types of honey. Here Vermentino is interpreted in several versions, all just waiting to be pleasantly discovered. Without forgetting the reds.

Monti. The realm of granite and cork. Surrounded by extensive pastures, walls, rock battlements and woods, the town is also known for its Vermentino Festival held the first Sunday of August which falls on the 4th this year. The event takes place at the Cantina Sociale del Vermentino with local product tasting. Apart from the famous wine that would appear to originate from Portugal or perhaps the island of Madeira, and the honey, some of the many not-to-be-missed goodies include ‘impanadas’, a kind of lard-pastry turnover with a pork, lamb or veal filling, roast sausages and Gallura fritters. And then there are the maccheronea de manu nostra, hand-made gnocchetti and ‘baci d’angelo’ cakes. Not to mention the many traditional dishes and various local wines. A trip to the San Gavino parish church is also a must. The Mount Oli forest extends to the south of the town, a natural park and oasis for the re-introduction of roe deer, large deer, mouflon and rare birds of prey, such as falcons and buzzards.(Fabio Schiavo)

Z 4