The undisputed capital of the Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo is a coastal district of the town of Arzachena in the region of Gallura. In summer the area becomes the scene of an extraordinary, glittering procession of yachts and famous people. Every day sees a continuous parade of the international jet set, with parties, nightlife and sporting events.
Poltu Celvu (as the locals call it) formed around a natural cove which reminds one of a deer (cervo in Italian). The old port dates to the 1960s, when Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, fascinated by the beauty of this stretch of coast, had the genial intuition to purchase the land of this corner of Gallura and make it into a paradise of elite international tourism. Construction of the new tourist port began in the 1980s, which today is one of the largest and best equipped in the Mediterranean as well as the site of the exclusive Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, the prestigious club which organises international sailing regattas.
From the Piazzetta delle Chiacchiere (‘Gossip Square’) to the Sottopiazza (‘Lower Piazza’), visitors come upon a mix of narrow streets, windows and balconies – built in what would become the Costa Smeralda style – as well as brand-name boutiques, restaurants, and fashionable pubs and cafés: this is the nightlife centre of the coast. Splendid villas extend into the surrounding hillsides, immersed in Mediterranean shrub. A sight not to be missed is the Stella Maris church, built by the architect Michele Busiri Vici, which dominates the Porto Cervo marina.
Just a few steps from the touristic centre, breath-taking beaches glimmer in the sun, their soft, snow white sand washed by the turquoise, green and blue tints of the sea all along the long arch of the coastline. This is the beach of Grande Pevero, lined with Mediterranean scrub and granite rocks shaped over time. Just beyond extend carefully manicured golf courses, making the location a favourite destination for golfing aficionados. On the other side of the promontory lies the Piccolo Pevero, a beach less than half as long as her ‘bigger sister’. Off the shore, visitors can admire the little islands called Li Nibani (‘seagulls’). To the south, other natural wonders can be found: the Romazzino and the Prince’s Beach (in honour of Aga Khan). On the other side of the “Smeraldino” promontory are the coves of Cala di Volpe and Liscia Ruja. Farther south, one finds the paradise of Cala Capriccioli, a series of small beaches with very fine, clear sand, protected by rocks of yellow, pink and reddish granite. The lido to the east is ideal for families, while on the west side lie the ‘Pirate’ and ‘Turtle’ beaches. The panorama is enriched by the islands of Soffi and the Camere, together with the little island of Mortorio.