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Sardinia

Gennargentu National Park

Although ‘roughing it’ is likely to be the last thing on your mind when staying in any of the luxurious villas in Italy on Sardinia, do be sure to pack your best hiking boots, as you’re going to need them to explore the incredible Gennargentu National Park. Here, ecology and tourism work very closely to preserve what environmentalists agree is some of the most unspoilt landscape in Europe. For the best view, hike up to Punta La Marmora, which is the island’s highest peak, at 1834 metres. Among the fauna to spot are Sardinian kites, foxes, boars, deer, moufflon, the occasional golden eagle, and even wild horses and donkeys. The towering limestone walls and cliffs offer some impressive formations; at over 400 metres tall in places, they flank the surrounding areas, including Gola Su Gorropu, the massive canyon nicknamed ‘Europe’s Grand Canyon’.

Alghero

Many villas in Italy have their own private pools but that’s no reason to miss out on the experience of exploring what have been described as the clearest waters in the Mediterranean. Alghero’s world-famous red coral is just one of the fascinating marine species you’ll get a chance to see up close and personal as you explore the network of underwater caves and tunnels off its coast – including Nereo Cave, the largest underwater grotto in the Mediterranean. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, to the north of Alghero is Capo Cacccia, which features desolate promontories and a variety of bird life including the herring gull, peregrine falcon, cormorant, red kite, and the rare griffon vulture. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon of bird watching or nature photography.

Golfo Orosei

Although staying in any of the stunning villas in Italy is an experience in itself, the island’s wild and natural beauty makes it impossible to deny the call of the outdoors. For the ecologist and nature lover, Golfo Orosei offers the opportunity of a lifetime to spot the endangered monk seal, which was previously thought to be extinct. Limestone cliffs create isolated and picturesque coves that can only be reached by boat, or you can take long hikes through the macquis – heavily vegetated areas typical to the Mediterranean coastlands. The effort is definitely worth it. The hour-long hike to Cala Goloritze, for example, which is reputed as one the island’s of the most picturesque coves. Once you arrive you’ll be greeted with a tree-shaded canyon with limestone cliffs, rock arches and steps leading down to the white-pebbled beach and crystal blue waters.