A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to accompany my dad on his company’s retreat to Sardinia, Italy. I’d been to Italy on a school trip as a teenager, but I’d only visited major tourist attractions on the main land and never had a chance to explore any of the islands or coastlines people talk so much about. Growing up, my family didn’t do much traveling, so I’d also never had the chance to travel with my parents. When the opportunity to tag along on my dad’s work trip came up, I was pretty excited; not only would I be able to experience a totally new place, I’d be able to do so with my dad!
I flew out separately from my dad, and we’d taken a budget approach to my flights. I traveled on WOW Airline from Boston to Reykjavik, then from Reykjavik to Berlin, before hopping an EasyJet from Berlin to Olbia, one of the largest cities on the Italian island of Sardinia. If you’re okay with roughing it on a long flight, my itinerary was very afforable. That said, surviving 10+ hours of travel in a tighter than average, thinly padded seat with no entertainment options or refreshment options is HARD AS HELL.
So I was super excited to finally touch down in Olbia! My dad rented a car, which really is the way to travel in Sardinia. That said, they don’t really do automatic transmissions there, so my dad and his co-workers had to chauffeur me around, since I don’t know how to manage a stick!
We stayed in the Hilton Garden In in Olbia our first night, and it was a totally comfortable stay. I’d flown out at 7pm on Friday in Boston, and with time changes and layovers, I arrived in Olbia around 7pm on a Saturday. The best jet lag management I’ve ever gotten is to push yourself to stay up until at least 9pm on the first night. I also find it helpful to get a light workout in on your first day! I loved the rooftop gym at the hotel, and a good night’s sleep + my 30 minutes of elliptical and core work really left me feeling regulated and ready for adventure.
After a (gluten free) breakfast of local fruit, yogurt, and nuts, we set out on a road trip! Breakfast is usually an easy meal to get senza glutine, I made sure to slip a Quest Bar into my purse just in case it was hard to find a gluten free option for lunch. Our first stop was Serra Orrios in Dorgali, where we got to explore the ruins of an ancient Nuragic Civilization, dating back to the second century BCE!
We ended up having lunch in an adorable coastal town called Cala Gonone at a restaurant called Il Pescatore, where the wait staff was SO accommodating of my dietary restrictions. I had seafood and rice with gluten-free Sardinian flatbread on the side. I learned that Celiac’s Disease is very, very common in Italy, so most restaurants have really legitimate gluten free options!
Next up we headed further south to Cagliari, the largest city in Sardinia. We went to bed pretty early that night, and took a free walking tour of Cagliari in the morning. Cagliari is somewhat rough around the edges, but it’s also incredibly beautiful and full of culture. We walked along colorful medieval streets,
Saw the remains of the Roman Empire,
Stopped by flower-shaded piazzas,
And took in some truly amazing views!
I wish we could have stayed longer, but soon we were off, driving northward along the western coast of Sardinia. We stopped for gelato in a stunning little town called Bosa, where we hiked up to a 12th century citadel that sits on a hill above the town.
The view from the citadel was COMPLETELY BREATHTAKING.
Next up we headed to a coastal resort hotel in Alghero! I jogged a few miles along the side of the road (not recommended) before finding some awesome trails in a state park. I also took my first dip of the trip in the Mediterranean, which is so easy to swim in, thanks to the amount of salt in that blue, blue water.
Our next and last stop was clear across the island, in an area called Costa Smeralda. We checked into a resort called the Cala Di Volpe, which was situated right on the water. Cala Di Volpe was gorgeous and well run, and I was truly able to relax during my 4 days stay. I especially loved that there was a gluten free corner at the breakfast buffet, so I never had to guess whether or not a dish was safe for me to eat. We also went to the nearby Pizzarie Burretto for dinner one night, where I happily demolished an entire gluten free pizza on my own.
I loved the outdoor gym at the Cala Di Volpe. I found that running along the roads in this area was very challenging (they’re windy and there are no sidewalks), and there weren’t any trails long enough for me to really log some miles. So I hit the treadmill, which looked out on the water.
My dad and his co-workers rented a boat one day and cruised around several islands off the coast of Sardinia. The water was SO blue, I couldn’t get over it.
On our last full day we took a off-roading Jeep tour, and got to take in some stunning vistas.
Sardinia was an incredible place to visit, and I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the opportunity. I was very, very anxious about the food situation going in; as someone with a highly reactive gut, a slip up on vacation can be disastrous. But Italy really is the best place to go as a gluten-free eater!
I was also nervous about logging my miles while I was traveling, and keeping my fitness levels up. I didn’t have the easiest time finding trails to jog outside, and the roads were a little too busy to run along. However, most hotels had great treadmills and fitness centers, and I was able to make use of those.
Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment if you’ve got any other tips for running while traveling, or finding gluten free eats while abroad!