August 2014 NZ House & Garden articleView the August 2014 article in
NZ House & Garden
about Lyn and Chris' trulli in Puglia, Italy

2017 Tour Dates

The Gables will be in Sardinia for the weeks

27 May - 3 June (1 space available)
3 - 10 June (fully booked)
10 - 17 June (fully booked)
17 - 24 June (fully booked)

Tariff: NZ $3,780.00 / person for 7 nights

Tariff includes:

  • Accommodation in double bedrooms, each with bathroom, in our private villa with pool (maximum 7 guests).
  • All dinners with wine, all breakfasts and 3 lunches.
  • Organisation of the itinerary and transportation.
  • Entrance fees on the itinerary.
  • Pick-up - Olbia airport mid afternoon
  • Drop-off - Olbia airport mid morning

For an itinerary and more information
email LYN AND CHRIS
or phone (03) 304 8980

Pool at the Villa
Pool at the Villa
Pool at the Villa
Pool at the Villa
Porto Cervo Church
Stripping Cork
Stripping cork
Market day
Nuraghic burial site
Porto Cervo Marina
Group at Porto Cervo Marina

PLAIN SAILING IN SARDINIA words by RUSSELL BROCKIE
2009 Latitude Magazine

 

This is not a story for yachties.  For whilst the impossibly-blue Mediterranean is an almost constant presence, this is a week spent comfortably on terra firma on Sardinia’s north-east coast.  A perfect sojourn sandwiched into a European holiday when the  seemingly mundane raises stress levels:  keeping to the right as a driver…looking the wrong way as a pedestrian…misinterpreting menus as a diner; not being understood as a speaker…all the usual trials of New Zealanders roaming through Europe.

By comparison then, this is a week of plain sailing.

Guests ease back to let someone else take the strain while the days are spent relaxing, sight-seeing, swimming and…yes, even sailing.  Then, as each warm day gives way to balmy evening, dinner is prepared and served by your own personal chefs.

Welcome to The Gables in Sardinia. 

Two Canterbury chefs who have been hosting intimate tours to Tuscany for eight years have responded to popular demand by taking the successful concept to the Costa Smerelda, Sardinia’s playground for the mega-rich and sometimes famous. 

For most of the year Lyn Baynes and Chris Broome operate The Gables Country House on Banks Peninsula.  Their bucolic life on the slopes above Wainui is shared with others. Stephie and Harry, the elders of the extended family, once cantered around the neighbourhood but now lead a more sedate and cosseted life in a paddock next door to more members of the family:  Lucca is a larger-than-life Suffolk (sheep) with an attitude to match and Katie, a personable goat who yields her milk for their home-made cheese.  Not restrained by paddocks are Maddie their much-adored terrier who is a relative newcomer following in the pawsteps of Michi who stole many a B & B guest’s heart and Pia their affectionate but spirited cat.   

Each May, as things turn quiet at home with the onset of winter, they put in place a pet-sitter, pack their preserves and cram their jams into their bags and head for Italy for three months of hosting intimate groups of guests in Sardinia, Tuscany and (new for 2010) Puglia.  On the island each June Saturday, they can be seen at Olbia Airport, keen to welcome guests, their enthusiasm for the week ahead as fervent as that of their visitors.

Home for the week is the splendid Piccolo Bentosa, aptly named given it translates as “Little Windy”…for Sardinia can be just that.  Very comfortable and suitably rustic, the villa sits back from the coast in the hills with expansive sea views to the archipelago of islands to the north. It is peaceful and private, nestled into the machia – Mediterranean scrub – as if it were part of the landscape.  The only colour clashes come from the infinity pool with its dramatic granite mountain backdrop and the look-at-me, look-at-me crimson and purple of the bougainvillea that is engulfing the house.

Nearby is the super-chic town of Porto Cervo, the hub of the Emerald Coast.  Over 40 years have elapsed since this stretch of the coast was transformed into the most exclusive tourist resort in the Mediterranean. To oversee the development, the Consorzio Costa Smerelda was created with Prince Karim Aga Khan IV as its head.  He is said to have spent more than one billion US dollars of his own money creating this jet-set playground.  Porto Cervo features two natural deep water harbours and the marina can accommodate 720 “boats”.  It is such an inadequate word to describe one of the flashest flotillas afloat; hundreds of millions of dollars tied up…some of the most spectacular private water craft on the planet, including James Packer’s new $50 million toy which debuted there late last year.

While Lyn and Chris have an extensive knowledge of what to see and when is best to see it, they are always happy to adapt the suggested itinerary to suit the interests of their guests. Such is the level of personalisation, the entire experience is more akin to staying with good friends than being part of a ‘tour’.

For those guests with a penchant for voyeurism, Porto Cervo’s now-famous piazzetta - little square – is a favoured place for celebrity-spotting as the exclusive little town is a lively international meeting place.  Chock full of designer shops, the price of whose merchandise stays largely under wraps - based on the premise that if you need to know, you cannot afford it - this is a million miles away from the dairy and bait shop version of retailing that characterises Kiwi marinas.  Quiet for most of the day, the point of sale terminals blink into life after eleven at night when the yacht and cruiser crowd bring their deeply-bronzed bodies ashore for a little retail therapy and night clubbing.

It seems a very long way from the leisure pursuits of the Neraghic people whose culture evolved continuously in Sardinia for a thousand years during the earlier Bronze Age.  The first of many civilisations attracted to the island over the centuries, theirs is the one to have left the best evidence of their settlement. From an estimated 35,000 Neraghis (houses) originally, 7,000 still remain.

These fortified, beehive-like structures were perfected 3,500 years ago and consisted of an internal spiral staircase, alcoves for sleeping and storage, stone seats and openings for ventilation.  Several good examples of such sophisticated engineering using dry-stone walling, held together entirely by weight, are visited during the week.

Guests also ferry across to Bonafacio on the southern tip of Corsica.  This former outpost of the French foreign legion is steeped in history and is reached in just over an hour, leaving plenty of time to wander the narrow lanes of the old city and linger over a French pastry or three before catching a ferry back to Sardinia in the afternoon sun.

Closer to home and an even shorter ferry ride away is the charming island of La Maddalena.  This National Park has joined to it by causeway the neighbouring island of Caprera, where the hero of Italian unification, Giuseppe Garibaldi came to live…and die. By that stage, he owned the entire island, having bought half of it in 1855 and ten years later being given the other half as a present by English friends (it seems such a shame that people don’t do that sort of thing these days.)  Today, the home he built and lived in for over 20 years, dubbed the White House, is a museum much visited by hordes of domestic tourists, so revered is he by the Italian people.

As in any tour hosted by Lyn and Chris, food plays a major part of the week.  Lyn’s love affair with the region stretches back almost thirty years when, as an enthusiastic young Antipodean chef, she was invited to cook for an English couple while they were in residence at their Sardinian villa.  Attracted by the reputation of the region’s food and wine, it was an opportunity she could not let pass. The strong Italian influences evident in the food both she and Chris present can be traced back to this time.  Nowadays, in addition to the annual Italian tours, the pair host regular cooking schools in their commercial kitchen at The Gables and have developed a fine reputation for their bespoke catering that sees them at weddings and events all over Banks Peninsula.

Back at Piccolo Bentosa, many Italian mainstays are cleverly given a Sardinian twist as the tour guides by day transform into chefs at sunset to present authentic dishes using, as always, only the freshest produce.  They even have a vegetable garden planted out for them before they arrive on the island so that they can harvest fresh tomatoes, greens and herbs. 

An evening menu might start with a nibble on some carta de musica, sheet music-thin bread drizzled with olive oil with a glass of Vermentino, a delicious local white wine, before sitting down to a fig and corn salad with goats’ cheese crostini, baby zucchini, fresh from the garden and stuffed with risotto, eggplant tortellini, and a dessert of baked peaches topped with crushed amaretti biscuits and pine nuts.  Or a typically Sardinian sweet:  seadas filled with soft sheep’s cheese, deep-fried and served with corbezzolo, a bitter honey yielded from bees that feed on the local strawberry tree.  Or the delectable formagelle:  a Sardinian sweet pastry filled with ricotta. 

With coffee, there is no better accompaniment than sospiri, particularly the lemon flavoured variety: a delicious praline jelly encased in an almond marzipan.

There are many more taste treats like these served up during a week that provides a host of unique perspectives into the Galluran region of Sardinia…a week when the stresses of independent travel cease to exist…best described as a week of plain sailing.