The island glimmered across the Strait of Bonifacio some eight miles in the distance, and as my tour guide described its pristine sandy beaches and crystal clear, turquoise waters, I knew I had to visit.
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, and although a region of Italy, it has its own distinct feel.
The local language, known as Sardo, is as frequently spoken as Italian, and the island is home to wildlife
you won’t find anywhere else. The Sardinian deer, fox, hare and monk seal are all native, and wild boar are a common sight.
My husband George and I had chosen Lu Lioni as our base for the week, a beautiful, traditional four-bedroom villa set in stunning gardens planted with roses, jasmine and bougainvillea, whose heady scent fill the air.
A swimming pool and barbecue terrace add to the luxury, and dramatic views of the mountains frame the skyline. It’s located on the northeast coast, a few miles inland from the town of Arzachena, in a perfect position to explore the island.
Arguably the best-known area of Sardinia is the Costa Smeralda (the Emerald Coast), a 15-minute drive from our villa, famed for its translucent blue waters, hidden coves and white sandy beaches.
It is also home to the impossibly glamorous Porto Cervo, considered one of the most expensive resorts in the world.
Here, you’ll find lavish villas owned by the likes of Formula 1 mogul Flavio Briatore and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, while designer boutiques, art galleries and five-star restaurants overlook the marina and harbour.
The resort was created by the Aga Khan in the 1960s and still attracts the royal, rich and famous from Italy and beyond, so don’t be surprised to spot a Hollywood A-lister meandering through the narrow streets.
Although exclusive, it is still possible to enjoy the delights of Porto Cervo on a modest budget – we dined on excellent home-made pasta and a glass of local Cannonau red wine at Elit on Promenade du Port for 20 euros per head.
However alluring, Sardinia has much more to offer than the glitz and glamour of the Costa Smeralda.
The island’s interior is magnificently rugged, and the landscape is studded with Roman, Phoenician and prehistoric ruins and burial sites.
The inland town of Tempio Pausania has a sleepy Mediterranean feel, and we strolled through the sun-baked streets in search of a cooling lemon granita and marvelled at the San Pietro cathedral and historic stone architecture.
While in Sardinia, you must visit the Maddalena islands. The stunning archipelago just off the north coast has beaches that rival anything the Caribbean can offer.
We took a day’s boat trip from Palau to explore the islands of Santa Maria, Budelli and Spargi, surrounded by crystal-clear lagoons perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Cala Soraya on uninhabited Spargi is one of the best beaches – its water is topaz blue, and the pink sand is backed by fragrant shrubs and aromatic herbs. From our yacht the views of the cliffs were breathtaking.
The granite has eroded over the centuries and some parts almost seem to have taken on the shapes of various mythical animals, each with a local legend.
Sardinia is a diverse island, and although it would be easy to spend a week in just one spot, I’d advise fellow visitors to explore.
Each beach we visited seemed more beautiful than the last and every day we discovered a new favourite view. You won’t be disappointed – bellissimo.
Victoria travelled with Sardinian Places, the UK’s leading Sardinia holiday specialist.
Prices for a week’s stay at Lu Lioni start at £489pp, which includes flights and car hire and is based on eight sharing. Call 01489 866 959, or visit sardinianplaces.co.uk.