Costa Smeralda: Chasing Sardinia’s Old-School Luxury

Costa Smeralda: Chasing Sardinia’s Old-School Luxury

The exclusive enclave of Europe’s moneyed elite, Costa Smeralda pairs old-school luxury with an abundance of natural beauty.

on the rocky northeastern tip of Sardinia, Costa Smeralda has been luring the
rich and powerful since the Sixties. Untouched until Prince Karim
Aga Khan (the leader of the Nizari Ismaili Muslims) began to
finance development on the coast, the paradisiacal stretch is now
synonymous with luxury, its sea-green coves and terracotta roof
tiles seemingly straight from a Dolce & Gabbana advertisement.
Cue, the continual flow of the world’s one per cent to its shores:
the Clooneys, Obamas, Princess Margaret, Roberto and Eva Cavalli,
Elton John and Naomi Campbell have all come to breathe in its
juniper-scented breezes and tiptoe these powder-soft white

Planned and polished, the area’s well-dressed appearance gives it a fantasy feel

Building first started on the previously uninhabited coast in
1962, with a vision to develop an eco-sensitive, isolated paradise.
Today, the region lays claim to one of Europe’s most expensive
property markets – it’s a billionaire’s playground, and very
content in that label. Porto Cervo, the glitzy village at the
centre of this rapid change, is the lifeblood of the area,
surrounded by numerous satellite hotels painted in sorbet shades,
and offering an array of unique architectural expressions – the
result of well-funded artistic experimentation. Five-star stays are
de rigueur, as are restaurants with the Michelin (and A-list) kind
on display out front, with spacious terraces perched above rocky
outcrops and sparkling wave breaks. The assonant clink of mastheads
is the predominant soundtrack; bleach-white yachts pepper all 20km
of the crystal-clear shoreline.

Planned and polished, the area’s well-dressed appearance gives
it a fantasy feel: this is a theme park for the high-flying, albeit
a tasteful one. Captured in the images and words of Assouline’s
latest title, Costa Smeralda, is the destination’s uniqueness, and
aspirational allure. In its azure seas, rugged outcrops and
laid-back hedonism, the origins of summer pleasure-seeking on
southern European islands become clear.

The Lowdown

Costa Smeralda by Cesare Cunaccia is published by Assouline
and is available to purchase at

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