Located about 100km south of Alghero, the tony village of Cabras is charming and in a state of regrowth and development. There is a sense of pride and community here that reinforces my love of Italy. It was eerily quiet on my many mornings, and even evenings, which wasn’t something that I was prepared for but sometimes you just need a place to recharge and unwind.
There’s something of a new movement in Italy, and perhaps especially Sardinia: the development of “hotels” that are referred to as an “albergo difusso”, a collection of buildings and structures peppered about the city, fully remodeled and run as a hotel. The structures are often varied in theme/design, or size, or even location, but each typically comes with the same amenities as your four-star hotel. One such place in Cabras is the Aquae Sinis Albergo Diffuso (https://aquaesinis.it/en/aquae-sinis-albergo-diffuso/), a lovely collection of rooms who, very obviously, are trying to contribute to the jumpstart of the village and the economy. I stayed in the Pontis building which had a lovely interior garden that was private, lovingly tended to, and even had the occasional cat stroll by during even cocktails. Other buildings had a small pool, a smaller interior courtyard, and all were serviced by the main building where a small, but adequate breakfast was available each morning.
Everything in Cabras is a short walk away, but unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options for dining. The options that do exist, however, really are lovely.
Osteria Il Gastronauta (no website but they are on FB) was a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating. The staff were great and we even spoke to one of the chefs about options available to us as vegetarians. The fried mushrooms were divine, and the pasta dishes outstanding. It was so good that I wanted to return the next night! The orecchiette with cacio e pepe sauce was to die for! It was so lovely that we wanted to return the following night, so suffice it to say: if I only had one night in Cabras, this is where I would dine.
In the centro storico, there are more restaurants, most of which appeared to be pizzerias, but there was the Sa Bell’e Crabasa (https://www.trattoriasabellecrabasa.com/), a personal favourite of mine. Set in a modern building meant to appear old like the village, the tables were well spaced and they had indoor and outdoor seats available. The food was never rushed, and like normal in Italy, the service was slow but measured, but I’d return here in a heartbeat if I could, if for nothing else than the fresh fava beans in lemon and oil or the culurgiones, pillowy pasta filled with potato and mint
And although its nothing fancy, but the pizza divine, you must go to Il Buongustaio Pizzeria (no website but they are on Instagram) in the centro storico. They only do pizza, and it’s a dance of choreographed steps to turn out the perfect thin crust pizza with just the right amount of sauce and toppings, even now it makes my belly grumble!
And if you have a car – because the busses would be a bit of a challenge – you must go to Trattoria Portixedda in Oristano (no website). Oristano is a larger, and more lively village, and appeared to be where people tend to live and shop. And, of course, that means that there are more options of where to dine. I found Portixedda in Oristano in a blogpost while doing my research for this trip and I am so thankful that I did. From the outside, it looks like your typical little trattoria, but upon entering, you are met with a shock of bright orange chairs, white walls, and turquoise accents, and thumping house music. But don’t let either turn you off: it all works (and yes, the house music was turned down as more and more people arrived). But better yet was the owner who proudly took our order, loved that we were vegetarians (he was as well, years ago), and seemed to relish in the opportunity to create outstanding dishes that weren’t shown on the menu and were deliciously mouthwatering.
It was all about the beaches for this part of the trip. Spiaggia di San Giovanni di Sinis, Is Arutas, Portu S’Uedda, and Mari Ermi are 4 of the favourites and they did not disappoint. Mari Ermi was probably my favourite as it was more remote, the beach was wide and long, and there was the opportunity to rent beds and umbrellas for a totally reasonable price. The more family friendly Portu S’Uedda was a more shallow beach, with more shallow waters (thus family friendly), but they also had access to more restaurants for lunch if you weren’t able to bring your own water and snacks.
And should you need a break from the beach, I cannot recommend enough the Area Archeologica di Tharros. Sturdy walking shoes are a must, but what a pleasure to walk amongst the ruins imagining what life back in the day was like: how the houses were arranged, the saunas, the churches, and the placement of the Torre Spagnolo which is worth the added price of admission for the views over the tip of Sardinia. After strolling through the ruins, follow the “road”, and the beach-goers for an extended walk along the coast. Bring your swimsuit, and water shoes, and do as the locals do and walk down to the water and take a swim.