This spectacular island is 45 minutes by air from Rome and is much beloved by wealthy Romans and Milanese, especially those keen on sailing. Although parts of the interior can be stark and relatively flat (unlike mountainous Corsica to the north), mysterious megalithic nuraghi add interest, and the beaches and limpid water are some of the best in the Mediterranean. During the July and August high season, hotel prices on the Costa Smeralda are stratospheric. The climate does not become reliably hot and sunny until June, but agreeable weather often persists into late October. Essential pre-trip reading is D.H. Lawrence’s classic “Sea and Sardinia.”

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