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September 27, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                        SARDEGNA, ITALY

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Buon giorno from Italy! Last week we left off in London, after taking an amazing flight over the pond with Eos Airlines (here�s the link to the archives). This week we continue to live the high life as we visit one of the world�s most exclusive summer playgrounds: Costa Smeralda. If you�re interested in learning about this special part of the coast on the island of Sardegna, then andiamo ("let�s go" in Italian)! If you�re in a hurry or have ADD, check out the 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week�s story.

Americans call the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea "Sardinia." Sardinians call it Sardigna or Sardinna. I�ll stick with my Italian heritage and call it what other Italians do: Sardegna. Sardegna is located 115 miles west of the Italian mainland (see map), and has a population of 1,680,000. This mountainous island (the highest point is 6,017 feet) is much larger than I ever imagined � roughly 160 miles long and 68 miles wide (9,301 square miles). The capital, Cagliari, is located on the southern part of the island. But I flew into Olbia, the other major airport, a 4-hour, 171-mile drive north of Cagliari.

Reaching Sardegna by air is not as expensive as it used to be, thanks to low-fare carriers. There are no non-stop flights from the U.S., however, so you have to connect. Instead of buying a direct ticket on a major carrier to Sardegna, look into breaking up your trip with a stopover either in London or Cologne, Germany (both are served by budget airlines). By flying into London and purchasing a separate ticket on easyJet (one of Europe�s most popular low-fare carriers) I saved over $1,000! Tip: Make sure to leave plenty of time between flights (preferably a day), because most low-fare carriers depart out of alternate airports. Fortunately, one-way tickets to Oblia or Cagliari can be as low as $40. If you prefer surface routes, a few ferry companies (listed in our resource section) offer crossings from some of Italy�s major port towns. Ferries take between 4 and 9 hours. The shortest distance is from Civitavecchia, an hour from Rome. Prices vary depending on class and type of boat; the lowest usually start at $30 each way, but specials can drop them even lower.

I was in Sardegna for my August vacation visiting my friend Anabel�s villa. It�s her family�s summer residence, and the place is unreal. The terra cotta-roof structure is located on shores of Costa Smeralda, 30 minutes north of Olbia. When I pulled up to the gated stone driveway I knew the place would be special, but I had no idea how unbelievable it really is. It�s located near the swanky Romazzino hotel ($2,000 a night in peak season), where stars are often photographed relaxing on the sandy beach, swimming in the crystal blue water or strolling along the dock. Romazzino means "rosemary" in Sardinna dialect, and plenty of those plants can be found. We were fortunate to go to the Romazzino hotel for cocktails and their fantastic buffet dinner that includes lobster, pasta and hot souffl�s. The patio where guests drink and dine has a view that makes you want to sing "That�s Amore." Waiters at the Romazzino (and other fine hotels) are all dressed meticulously; they�re not college kids or immigrants working for the summer. These men are 100% Italian, and as professional as it gets. Hotel Romazzino, Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda, Italy; tel.: 39-0789-977111.

The villa�s backyard has a water view that makes you want to stare out all day long. When we weren�t mesmerized, we went out on one of the family�s boats. In the morning we waterskied; in the early afternoon we cruised around the harbor watching mega-ships (this is where Bill Gates and all those ridiculously rich and powerful people holiday). Some boats are 300 feet long and cost $150 million -- is that sick or what? We were out on "just" a 71 -foot Sea Ray that was unbelievably plush. It came complete with a deckhand and chef. The one day we wanted to take it to Corsica (France�s neighboring island), it was too rough to cross the Strait of Bonifacio. Instead we settled for Budelli Beach, located in a little cove between Corsica and Sardegna that is part of a national park. This place was magnifico. Were it not for the red jellyfish, I�d still be swimming there.

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Copyright 2006 JohnnyJet, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pictures From

The Trip


Costa Smeralda


Drive To Villa


August Traffic


Where I Stayed




Hotel Romazzino


Water Skiing


Budelli Beach


Big Boy Can Flip


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