LIGHTHOUSE BY THE SEA
Lighthouse by the sea - Luxury Travel Magazine
|By: Jesper Storgaard Jensen, Issue 50 Autumn 2012|
|(Sardinia, guest house, converted, original, unique, undiscovered, luxury, accommodation, travel, Italian)|
|Jesper Storgaard Jensen FINDS A 19TH CENTURY LIGHTHOUSE ON SARDINIA’S SOUTHERN TIP THAT HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO A LUXURY GUESTHOUSE.|
IN THE DISTANCE, THE SEA AND SKY touch. Below, waves roll lazily onto a stunning beach. The only thing you’ll hear at Sardinia’s most southern lighthouse, Faro Capo Spartivento, is the wind blowing and seagulls crying. You’ll smell the salty sea air and you’ll almost immediately feel healthier amidst so much natural beauty. The lighthouse’s somewhat cryptic name means “the lighthouse that cuts the wind” and for 150 years it was a light in the dark for seafarers until technological advances changed its destiny along with many of the world’s 10,000 lighthouses. Today, satellites and Global Positioning Systems provide sailors with geographical coordinates making many lighthouses redundant.
In addition, they are expensive to maintain so many face a future of slow and inevitable decay. In Sardinia alone, 13 lighthouses are scheduled to be put out of business within the next few years. That is, unless they follow the fortunate fate of Faro Capo Spartivento, which in 2008 found new work as a luxury hotel. The Italian Navy constructed Faro Capo Spartivento in 1856 and, until the 1980s, a lighthouse keeper and his family actually lived in the tower. The lighthouse lantern towers 81 metres above sea level and its light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. During World War II, US armed forces fired at it but it held its ground. In 1991, businessman Alessio Raggio submitted his first official application to the Italian state government to take over the lighthouse. Some 12 years and a lot of bureaucracy later, he obtained a 40-year permit from the Italian authorities. To pursue his dream of refashioning it as a luxury hotel, he embarked on five years of intense work on the ambitious build ing project. Finally, in 2008, he was able to cut the ribbon at the inauguration of Italy’s very first luxury lighthouse hotel.
Raggio’s work and patience were rewarded and the lighthouse has received rave reviews. He knew that his project had to be of the highest standards if he was to match the beauty of the lighthouse’s natural surroundings. “This was clear right from the start. The design needed to be exceptional. Paolo Margaritella, an architect from the Italian Ministry of Culture, followed the project, and we made many decisions together. Nothing substantial could be changed on the original buildings. Only the interior design,” he explained. Two of the six suites overlook the sea and are decorated in a hyper-modern, totally white style. Another two suites offer tantalising views of the rugged natural terrain. Two mini-apartments of some 55 square metres have glass ceilings and from bed guests can gaze at the starry sky. Spartivento’s chef reinterprets local Sardinian traditional dishes and the hotel’s different wines, many local, are retrieved from a cellar that has more than 400 different labels. In the evening on the terrace guests watch the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea. During the day, they take a dip in the swimming pool that has a splendid ocean view. If they want to ride the waves, a short walk away are some of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches, including Cala Cipolla and la Spiaggia del Morto. “We very much take advantage of the surrounding countryside,” says Raggio. The southern part of the island is one of the best places in Sardinia for wind and kite surfing. Every year in late June the international surfing competition Chia Classic Waterman Trophy takes place right here. The hotel also organises speedboat trips along the coastline and diving expeditions in the crystal clear water and the beaches in the Chia area are perfect for horseback riding. Mountain bikes and a Jeep are available for guests who want to head into the surrounding countryside. And there’s the local golf club, Is Molas, just 15 kilometres away and renowned for its picturesque fairways.
|WHERE TO STAY|
|Classic room with a view from Faro Capo Spartivento.|
|Capo Spartivento Lighthouse|
Rates start from €500 per room per night (about A$623), and Sea View suites start from €600 (about A$747) per room per night. farocapospartivento.com/
|WHEN TO GO|
|The best time to visit Sardinia is between March and May where temperatures peak at 30 degrees Celsius and travellers can watch the islands magnificent flora spring to life. Typically the tourist season peaks in August during the Italian holiday period so people looking for peace and quiet should avoid this time.|
|The lighthouse is about 50 kilometres from Cagliari, and the best way to access the city is to fly in from a European capital like London. Alitalia Airlines flies to Cagliari from London (Heathrow) and return flights start from A$345 for economy class and A$1,011 for business class. A one way flight is around five hours. alitalia.com|
|British Airways runs daily flights to London (Heathrow) from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Fares start from A$2,442 return for economy class and A$11,715 return for business class. The flight time ranges from 18 to 21 hours. britishairways.com|