How to holiday like James Bond in Sardinia

Posing as a marine biologist and with Soviet agent Anya Amasova posing as his wife, James Bond checked into Hotel Cala di Volpe in the The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Their mission: to gather intelligence aboard super-villain Karl Stromberg’s secret underwater lair, somewhere in the Tyrrhenian Sea between Sardinia and the Italian mainland. In the meantime, they stay in a spacious suite with exposed wooden beams and open ocean views (where Amasova also vows to kill Bond when the mission is over). When I stayed at Cala di Volpe this year, I saw no villainous marine lair, just Tommy Hilfiger’s super yacht. The hotel has retained its Bond glamour through

How Italy’s most famous coastline stays crowd-free

A five-minute taxi journey costs €50, a single drink can set you back more than €20 – and if you want to avoid shelling out €60 for a plate of pasta, you might struggle to find a supermarket. But the Costa Smeralda offers one luxury that’s hard to put a price on at the peak of the summer holiday season – a surprising lack of crowds. Back in the 1960s, this 20km stretch of beaches and pine forest on Sardinia’s northern coastline was uninhabited and deemed of little value to the country’s farmers. But the Aga Khan spotted a business opportunity. He purchased the land and began the process of turning it into a

A voyage through fine wine off Sardinia

One could get used to this. I come from seafaring stock, albeit distant. ‘Anderson’ suggests Viking antecedents, especially as my forebears came from the Shetland Islands. Yet there must have been something wrong with the first Anderson. Other Vikings reached Normandy, Sicily, even Byzantium. At the very least, they found the odd monastery to plunder. Later, their Norman descendants compensated for cultural destruction with cultural creation. But to endure the rigours of crossing from Norway and then disembark on Shetland? Was my remote ancestor seasick, or mutinous, or did he rape the cabin boy? We will never know. A millennium or so later, life at sea was rather different. We

Why Sardinian wine is one to watch

The larger islands of the Mediterranean all have their glories. Fought over for millennia, they now seem to have attained stability as part of the post-1945 political order, but the records of the long epochs of conflict are among the most fascinating aspects of European history. The successive waves of conquest have left material to delight archaeologists and aesthetes. Although western Sicily stands above them all, the intricacies of Sardinia’s history and culture can enthral the scholar, and the visitor. Prehistoric inhabitants left interesting traces as did Phoenicians, who were succeeded by Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals and Byzantium. Then, for more than four centuries, Sardinia was part of the Kingdom of