September 26 2010
“On Friday night, my wife Patrizia, with whom I work closely – she is everything from my PA to my main inspiration – and I fly back from Paris, where I work during the week, to Alghero, on the west coast of Sardinia, the city I was born in. As the plane lands, I love looking down at the city and the wonderfully shaped Capo Caccia promontory, a beautiful spot resembling a child sleeping on the sea. Often, instead of going to our home, we’ll go straight to dinner at Andreini, a restaurant in Alghero that serves amazing traditional Sardinian dishes in an experimental way, such as mixing the local recipe for aragosta all’algherese (snails and lobster) with an Asian recipe.
Alghero was originally built in the 12th century around a fortified port, and after dinner we head to the ancient seafront battlements (pictured) to walk off dinner and join the passeggiata. It starts outside the rather grand Hotel Villa Las Tronas and ends at the marina, which is invariably packed – everyone congregates here, and we often run into friends. Italian people dress in a classical rather than a daring, trendy way. But there are dress codes: almost everyone sports the same style of shades and handbag.
The shops are all open and sometimes we’ll pop into Ceramiche d’Arte, which sells a large selection of Alghero’s famous coral jewellery and pottery, especially reissues of the artist Antonio Farci’s wonderful ceramic sculptures.
But we don’t stay late in Alghero. I’m a morning person, and even at weekends I get up before 7am. With our sons, Efisio, 18, and Leonardo, 12, we drive along the west coast, stopping off at our favourite places, starting with a small, rugged beach called La Speranza, where it isn’t too touristy. I’ll go jogging, while Patrizia sunbathes or reads. We have lunch in a tiny restaurant called La Speranza specialising in local food, such as linguini with freshly caught langoustines.
Then we’ll head for Bosa, a very old town 15km further down the coast. The main attraction here is the restaurant Borgo Sant’Ignazio, where we’ll have coffee and eat menjar blanc, a Sardinian cake made with almonds, cream and lemon zest. We may visit an interesting museum here called Casa Deriu, which documents life in Sardinia before the unification of Italy in the 19th century.
But I can’t sit still for long, so we usually go on to Tharros. The town was founded by the Phoenicians in the eighth century BC, and you can feel a powerful sense of history here. Tharros is also filled with old fishermen’s huts made of woven straw. Then we go to the nearby town of Cabras and have dinner at Peschiera Pontis, where a speciality is bottarga di muggine – Sardinian dry-salted fish roe. Occasionally, we might leave the coast and drive inland to Nuoro to visit the MAN museum, which has a wonderful collection of modern Sardinian art.
On Sunday we’ll go to another amazing place called Ingurtosu, a post-industrial town and former mining settlement. The contrast with Tharros couldn’t be greater – it used to be very prosperous but is now forlorn, although it has a melancholic charm. We’ll rent a bungalow and spend the morning on the beach, which is backed by a stunning forest full of deer.
In the afternoon, we return to Alghero and spend tea-time at the Hotel Villa Las Tronas. It’s very luxurious, on a private promontory with a pool – Tom Cruise and Madonna sometimes stay there. We’ll have an aperitivo in the piano bar facing the huge terrace, with its views of the sea.
Back at home deep in the countryside, I spend the evening with Patrizia in our garden, which is filled with olive trees. We’ll sit beside the pool with a simple supper of cheese or charcuterie, watching the sunset and enjoying the last moments of the weekend together.