Wonderful Houses

In Porto Rotondo people take property very seriously indeed. Emerald green waters and the heady scent of Mediterranean shrubs fuel the race to snap up rare real estate, and nobody undersells or offloads a property bought perhaps in the ‘70s, that would be virtually impossible to buy now with today’s prices. Seafront properties and those around the port are prized bricks-and-mortar assets, that are handed down like family jewels. Like those in Porto Cervo, Cortina or Capri they never depreciate. Resembling royal palaces, many were designed by famous architects and are set in stunning grounds. When houses like these change hands, the whole village knows about it instantly…

You can do a tour of the villas in Porto Rotondo by sailing along the coast or taking a stroll past the gardens. In either case, you can play at imagining what it is like to live in such a beautiful natural setting, as you have fun trying to put a name to each property.  The tour takes you to Punta Lada, where the road offers scenic views over Punta Volpe and the islands of Soffi and Mortorio, leading to the gates of Villa dei Pesci. Here, turn left and head down the road until you come to via della Certosa. The little road leads down to the sea and on your left you can admire a complex of three villas called Marina Piccola, housing some of the village’s most sought-after apartments, thanks to the security, privacy and the beautiful little beach, which can be reached only by boat, looking onto Cala Sabina and the island of Tavolara.

At the end of the road, you come to the gates of Villa Hanish, the home of a German gentleman with a passion for botany. Here, together with his gardener Michelino, Mr Hanish has created his own perfect scent garden. Moving on, you end up at the high-security entrance to villa Certosa, one of the most famous properties in Porto Rotondo, indeed one of the most famous on the entire Costa Smeralda, owned by former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi; built in the ‘90s, it sits in gardens that would be the envy of Louis the Great. Turning back along via Punta Lada and keeping right, you come to a small roundabout that lets you turn back. Look out for two spectacular bronze gates, as towering behind the entrance are fine specimens of “silk floss trees”, “Ceiba speciosa” with magnificent pink flowers; these tropical trees have found the perfect habitat in Sardinia. Head back to the turn-off for Punta Volpe and follow the small peninsula until you come to the roundabout and the little lane leading to the homonymous beach. The villa, complete with nuraghe tower, which you can see better if you climb higher, belongs to Mr Carl Hahn (known to locals as the former Volkswagen boss). The unbeatable view from this spot takes in: to the right Capo Figari, Tavolara, and to the left Cala di Volpe, Pevero and Capriccioli beaches… Returning towards Porto Rotondo the road passes through the Village of Punta Volpe, which resembles a sort of nativity scene, built in local stone to blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings, divided in two by the road that leads down to the crystal clear waters that lap this natural isthmus. Moving on, a narrow road on the right leads down to the Russian-owned Villa Guttuso. Once the property of Marta Marzotto and named after the frescos by the renowned artist that adorn the property, it commands excellent views of Punta Volpe beach.  After the ascent to Punta Volpe, take a right into via Clelia Donà dalle Rose, where a long wall leading up to the entrance to Hotel Sporting prevents any glimpses of casa Donà dalle Rose, home of Count Luigino, who designed and built the village of Porto Rotondo, together with his dearly departed brother, Nicolò.

There are more villas at the other end of the village: Villa Boldrocchi and Villa Persico surrounded by centuries-old olive trees, plus Villa Swarovski can be admired while bathing at the small Rudargia beach. By land or from the sea, there is no missing the sprawling so-called “Russian villas”, like that of the magnate Ziyad Manasir which, guarded by a host of security cameras, dominates Punta Nuraghe. In the village itself, climbing the steps that lead from the Marina to Piazza S. Marco, you can look up and spot the columns that adorn the most admired and envied terrace of the entire village: this is casa Gobetti. Also worth seeing, uphill from the marina, are properties in the Parioli district, including those once owned by Virna Lisi, the wife of the film director Rosi, and in the Casbah area, which is still the favourite holiday retreat of Italian aristocrat Prince Ruspoli, Lillio to his friends. After the little bridge at the harbour you come to casa Fontana located above Iris, the florist’s shop, instantly recognisable from the dazzling white terrace extending towards the port, and the glorious bougainvillea; this property commands superb views over the entrance to the port with its granite columns, the Yachting Club and the Marina, and has been photographed countless times by top interior design magazines. Tucked away at the start of the port on the piazzetta Rudalza side, is another house well known to locals: this is Villa Barilla, yet another of the area’s luxury properties with a famous name and discreet style, the owners all drawn here by the same love affair with this wonderful location.

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