Tirrenia Ferry Line
Wednesday night found the PashbyMauls and JML on a Tirrenia Lines Ferry after our Vesuvio hike. We drove north from Vesuvio to Civitavecchia to catch an overnight ferry to Olbia (NE Sardegna), as we had planned the home base of our Sardegna leg of the trip in the northern part of the island. Note that it is possible to take a ferry to Sardegna from Napoli, which we were much closer to (but not fond of driving in), but we could not find an overnight ferry to Olbia from Napoli on the specific day that we wanted, so drive to Civitavecchia we did! Being an overnight trip, we didn’t want to “rough” it, so we booked a 1st class cabin for 4, paying a bit extra to make our party of 3 be the only ones in the cabin. The ship used to be a cruise ship, but is a little bit tired at the seams and probably wouldn’t make it as a cruise ship any longer. For an overnight ferry, it is just fine. The ability to sleep quite well for 5-6 hours and have the promise of a hot shower in the morning before hitting the road and sights in Sardegna was priceless and exactly what we needed. We found the restaurant to be slightly lacking in its quality (unripened tomatoes on the salad and mediocre pasta dishes), but enjoyed an average dinner before we set sail, then headed to our cabin for some sleep. Logistics to get onto the boat were a little questionable since we were driving on and using the actual car ferry. We finally ascertained that the driver is supposed to stay with the car (obviously), but the other passengers are supposed to walk on the ship. Of course, this being Italy, they only usually enforce this if it is a “high security risk” time, and so we could have easily all fit in the car anyway, but of course we decided to play by the rules so JML and I walked on while poor Drew was stuck with the car for another two hours.
Upon our arrival in Olbia, we began driving northwest and made it to the quaint harbor-side town of Castelsardo. Walking uphill to this beautiful medieval town, I felt quite rewarded for my uphill journey as picturesque views of the water+light exercise made me feel at peace. The town is quaint and amiable as bar tenders, d shop owners, and random Italian tourists are happy to engage in conversation and quick to compliment your Italian skills (as long as you try!). Having a spritz on the top of the city as we watched the world unfold was my favorite experience from this peaceful little town.
Ristorante “Da Vito”, Sennori
One thing that beckoned to Drew as we planned our short time in Sardegna was Spaghetti alla Bottarga. Bottarga is the cured egg sack of a fish (fish roe) that is shaved over pasta as a condiment or main course, and is a specialty in Sardegna. Unfortunately, we didn’t really find good parking spots to go along with all of the towns we stopped in between Castelsardo and our agriturismo in Alghero area, so we were getting nervous about finding a lunch place. It turned out to work in our favor, as I desperately saw a stand-alone restaurant on the side of the road in seemingly-the-middle-of-nowhere-place-between-two-towns. I hopped out and asked the owner, Vito, if they were indeed open per pranzo, and was relieved to hear that YES, we could have lunch there! It all worked out for the best as Drew was able to eat Bottarga for his very first meal in Sardegna. We were able to try two different octopus salad antipasti, I had pasta with astice (lobster), Jin Min had adorable looking gnoccheti with some kind of sausage, and Drew of course was taken with the bottarga. Add to that probably the best pane carasau we had the entire trip, and Ristorante Da Vito gets major points in our book!
After driving to our agriturismo and checking in, we were even able to fit in a few hours on the beach! Within one day, Sardegna had us charmed and wishing for weeks’ more adventures then we actually had time available for.