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Top Gourmet Mini Tours - Olbia
4 days - 3 nights

From the Heart of Barbagia to the Emerald Coast

Gastronomy, Wine, scenic beauty all will surround you on this escape into one of the most characteristic areas in the island. Oliena and Dorgalia are famous agricultrual areas noted for their cheeses, wine, handicrafts and cuisine. Set in the shadows of the Supramonte hills, The hills surrounding Oliena are covered by the vines carefully cultivated to produce one of Sardinia's most memorable wines, the Cannonau. Dorgali is a short distance from Oliena on the path to the sea. Handcrafts such as leather, ceramics, hand-woven rugs and filigree jewlery made with gold or silver can be found in the many small shops specializing in traditional products. Finally, you will behold the breathtaking colors of the Costa Smeralda after visiting another of the region's vinyards.

All along the way you will be treated to meals that capture the flavors of the area in carefully selected restaurants specializing in the traditional cooking that is as delicious as it is memorable. Accomodations are comfortable and selected for hospitality as well as service.

Day 1 - Oliena
Arrival and Dinner

After arriving in Olbia either at the airport or the nearby ferry terminal you will depart for Oliena.

You will immediately notice the contrast between the busy harbor that welcomes thousands of tourists every year and the quiet hillsides around Oliena. This is one of the rare chances to glimpse a world that has otherwise disappeared. Life carries on in this small town of less than 8,000 people. The road into the town is accompanied by the unforgettable sight of the white limestone hills of the Supramonte jetting out of the ground, imposing its grandeur. Oliena's simple traditions go back many generations evident by the people of the town. While mainland Italy's towns are populated by individuals trying to find the latest style Oliena's population clings to traditional styles that have gone unchanged for years. Men sit in doorways just as they have for decades, looking much like photos from an old Italian album. It is also common to see widows walking through town dressed completely in black as tradition has tought them.

The adherance to tradition is especially present in how they prepare their food and wine. These are the hills that produce Sardinia's famous Cannonau, a full-bodied and strong red that is the perfect companion to the hearty cuisine of the Sardinia interior. Treat yourself to a glass along with a traditional recipe of malloreddus in wild boar sauce (cinghiali), roast suckling pig (porceddu) or roast lamb.

You will stay in one of the most noted hotels, Su Gologone, known for its spectacular vistas and the fine cuisine of its restaurant where most of the cooking is done in its outdoor ovens. The hotel is run by Signora Palimodde who insists on quality and a pleasant stay.

Day 2 - Dorgali
Sights, Wine, and local Handcrafts

After breakfast, you will travel to the ancient Nuragic Village of Serra Orrios. This is one of the largest and most significant bronze age ruins in Sardinia. The nuraghic people were decended from some of the first people in the Mediterrranean and though Sardinia was surrounded by beautiful seas these people usually prefered the interior, far from invading forces. The village is one of the best-preserved with more than 70 dwellings remaining. As you walk through the temples and communal area you will be sharing the footsteps of people from another millenium.

You will also visit the ancient site, the Grotto of Ispinigoli. This ancient Phoenician temple located inside a large limestone cavern where you will find the highest stalactite/stalagmite columns in all of Europe. Legend holds that Carthiginian virgins were tossed to their deaths from the Abisso della Vergini, evidenced by ancient jewlery found at the bottom of the shaft and now housed in the archiological musem in Dorgali.

After checking into your hotel you will be treated to a delicious lunch highlighting the regional specialities and accompanied by local wine.

After lunch visit one of the noted local producers of cannonau, the hearty red that is made from the Spanish origined cannonau grapes introduced to the island in 15th and 16th centuries during Spain's domination of the island. Sample newer varieties that are perfect with a traditional meal of porceddu (roasted pig) or wild game like deer or cinghiale (wild boar) or aged examples that make a pleasant dessert wine. Here, wine is made much as it has always been with modern influences only where it would make a significant improvement.

In Dorgali you will have a chance to see the handcrafting of gold filigree, the traditional jewelry used to adorn Sardinian religious costumes. Artisans from the area spend countless hours on the delicate forms and fine metalwork. Originally, these pieces were made using silver probably mined on the island itself but in the last hundred years they have used gold in addition to the semiprecious stones to create jewelry that is more than an adornment, it is a piece of art.

And don't leave town without purchasing at least some Pecorino Sardo, a wonderful cheese famous beyond the shores of the island. Look for it in either morbida form (softer) or the harder and older variety. Slice it into cubes and drip balsamic vinegar over the top for a perfect antipasto.

After your visit you will continue on to Olbia to check into your hotel and enjoy an evening meal.

Day 3 - Costa Smeralda
Wine and the Emerald Coast

Visit a wine production cellar and sample the locally-produced Vermentino, Moscato, Chardonnay, and Cannonau followed by lunch in a fine restaurant where you can choose to dine on many of the delicious seafood specialties. Start with an antipasti misto di mare and follow with other fine seafoods. Cosse (mussels) are delicious and unlike anything found in other parts due to the especially clean water found off the coast. Menus can change due to availability of regional foods but one thing never changes - the taste. Good food is found everywhere thanks to the pride of Sardinian cooks.

The afternoon is reserved for a scenic tour of the breathtaking Costa Smeralda. Long the haven of the rich and famous, the beautiful waters are usually dotted with the large yachts of some of the biggest names. The reason they come will become as clear to you as the cool green waters below. Winding along the wind-swept cliffs you will witness one of the world's most spectacular vistas.

Your drive will take you to Palau where you will dine on a wide selection of regional specialties, again with a large number of seafood dishes. After dinner you will return to your hotel in Olbia for a good night's rest. In the morning you will provided with breakfast before your departure.