Sitting with Sir Donald Gosling at Leander House watching the Thames flow past is the perfect spot to reminisce with this experienced owner about where he loves to go cruising. He has taken his 75m superyacht Leander all over the world, but if there is one place he returns to time and again it is Sardinia. His love affair with this island has been a long-term one, and if a busy diary enables a retreat early in June it’s quite often to the shores of Sardinia that he will go.
‘It has this incredible combination,’ Sir Donald says. ‘On one hand it has thousands of little bays and anchorages you can choose from and on the other perhaps the world’s greatest sophistication, created on the Costa Smeralda by the Aga Khan.’
‘We love going into the heart of the island and just sitting at a trattoria where there are no menus, and eating what they have to offer for 12-15 euros. Then before you leave they present you with a great big paper bag full of vegetables from their garden,’ he recounts. ‘That’s the sort of mentality you get there.’
Sardinia is a rugged and mountainous island with the Gennargentu Range cutting a jagged swath right through its heart. The most northerly point of the island is narrowly separated by the Strait of Bonafacio from the neighbouring French island of Corsica, and the whole is totally detached from the rat race of Europe. The second largest island in the Mediterranean, it is easily reached from the Italian mainland, the Balearics, Corsica and the Côte d’Azur, and Tunisia.
For Sir Donald and his guests, Sardinia’s real draw is its people, the food, the local villages and the magical rugged landscape which in the evening light glows pink against glistening clear waters. Suffusing this is the divine smell of the early summer flora when everything is bright and fresh. Here we take you to some of their favourite haunts.