In the third of our series of interviews with Holiday Homeowners from around the world, globetrotting Italian traveller and entrepreneur, Antonio Bortolotti and his wife share with you their reasons for loving where their holiday home is situated, best-kept quirky travel secrets and top tips for making the most of your stay.
After 15 years working as an air steward for Alitalia, Antonio decided to draw on his extensive world knowledge and, together with his wife Cristina, set out on a mission to create their perfect holiday home and fulfil a lifelong dream. In just three years, they bought and renovated, with amazing creative zeal and flair, ‘Casa Teulada’, an idyllic stone farmhouse on the island of Sardinia.
Featured in some of the most prominent national papers, including The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Observer, Casa Teulada has been successful beyond Antonio and Cristina’s wildest dreams. Today they delight in welcoming guests from around the world to enjoy their beautiful home. As well as running Casa Teulada, Antonio has also written three books, including an iPhone guide, and runs the HolidayHomesRoundTheWorld.com blog, where he and wife Cristina share their experiences of other great holiday rentals around the world.
What first made you fall in love with Sardinia and why should people come here? We live quite a hectic life and dreamt about the perfect place to indulge our senses for years. After venturing around the world, we found the ideal place not far from home! A traveller’s paradise and undoubtedly the top Italian holiday destination among our fellow countrymen, Sardinia ranks top for idyllic beaches, crystal clear waters, great scenery and warm people hands down. Northern Sardinia is where the rich and famous gather to enjoy the vibrant lifestyle and glittering nightlife, southern Sardinia – especially the southwest – is still authentic, pristine and laid back.
It is here that we chose to fulfil our dream, as we love the quality of life, which for us translates into peace and tranquillity surrounded by genuinely warm locals living at a very slow pace. Sardinia has it all in terms of unique history and lots of opportunities for every budget, so it was a natural place to go to live out our dream.
What’s the ‘best kept secret’ you would tell any visitors not to miss? The coastal drive from Chia to Teulada from September to June! This shows nature at its most spectacular best: secluded coves, endless beaches, unpaved treks in the “Mediterranean macchia (bush)”, ancient ruins of mysterious civilizations, colours and perfumes that shake even the coldest heart. You could get trapped meandering through this 25 km long stretch of coast forever and never get bored seeing something similar twice.
The “Girotonno” (the Tuna Tour) is a not to be missed event held each May in Carloforte on the tiny island of San Pietro.
A food and wine competition celebrating the tradition of tuna fishing, the event evokes men, stories and flavours of the tuna on the routes of the old Tonnara of Carloforte, one of the most active of the Mediterranean Sea. This is unique opportunity to explore in detail the magic world of the tonnara traps and the fishermen, admiring the ancient rite of “Mattanza“.
Where’s the place to go to just hang out, people watch and generally soak up the atmosphere? Only an hour’s drive from Teulada, is Poetto’s beach in Cagliari, Sardinia’s gateway. Catch the sunset if you can – locals love it, so why shouldn’t you?
What would you recommend visitors either treat themselves to while they’re there, or take home as a souvenir? Sardinia is a world of its own, very different from the rest of Italy in many ways. A good way to sample its diversity is through food and local delicacies, which speak for the inhabitants of this unique island. “Eat Sardinian” and you will discover a pleasant, unexpected surprise that will make you bring home some fantastic, mouth-watering Pecorino cheese, Mirto liqueur, Grappa “Fileferru” – the typical Sardinian “outlawed” liqueur – and Bottarga, salted, pressed, dried, and ground grey mullet roe, which is excellent on spaghetti or sliced on salads!
Finally, what are the most ‘quirky’ things to do, see, eat, visit or experience in this place? Again, food is definitely quirky in Sardinia and Sardinians have a concept of cuisine all of their own! Spaghetti with bottarga or sea urchins is an absolute joy for foodies! Make friends with locals and do something extraordinary for them, and they will invite you home to sample “Porceddu”, a young pig slowly baked and cooked underground with an elaborate procedure) and a specialty consumed only among friends to celebrate special events.
Holiday Homeowner Q&A is brought to you by HomeAway, the UK’s leading holiday rentals website with over 320,000 properties worldwide. From cute studios and city apartments to rural cottages and country homes, large luxury villas, quirky conversions and more, there are thousands of unique places to enjoy a more authentic and unusual holiday.