The Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, is an affluent, highly developed, tourist area situated in the north east of Sardinia. Development began in 1961 by a consortium of companies headed by Prince Karim Aga Khan, after whom one of the beaches is named, 'Spiaggia del Principe'.
The Costa Smeralda is now a playground for the rich and famous and stretches for 55 kilometres, covering an area of 30 sq km of spectacular white sand beaches, luxury villas, 5 star hotels and lavish marinas full of super-yachts. In the peak season, celebrities come from all over the world to spend thousands of euros a night for access to the 'Dolce Vita' in the resorts of Porto Cervo, Porto Rotondo and Poltu Quatu. Each September, the area is home to the 'Sardina Cup' sailing regatta.
Silvio Berlusconi has a luxury villa on the Costa Smeralda, Villa Certosa, where he has entertained many world leaders, international celebrities and other friends, usually overseen by the world's paparazzi. In a recent report by property agency, Engel & Völkers, the Costa Smeralda was named the most expensive location in Europe with property prices reaching up to 30,000 euros per square metre.
The area itself is spectacularly beautiful. The archipelago of La Maddalena is a national park and can be accessed by ferry from the town of Palau. The island of Caprera, where Guiseppe Garribaldi lived and died, is also accessible to visitors. Small, rocky, islands are dotted along the coast, and the combination of turquoise water and white sand is stunning.
Out of the season, the area is not so crowded, and the nearby towns of Santa Teresa Gallura, Palau and Arzachena are all well worth a visit.
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