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Alghero Italy

Italians have been escaping to the medieval town of Alghero, on Sardinia's northwest coast, for centuries. Despite Alghero's popularity, the town manages to retain the atmosphere of a sleepy, forgotten village – one whose cobbled lanes, ancient churches, picturesque piazzas and sailboat-filled port all appear untouched by time.

The best place to start your sightseeing adventure in Alghero is its centro storico, whose borders are protected by 16th-century sea walls. You can walk along the walls via a pedestrianised path that offers sweeping views of the marina and city. Back on the ground, you'll get closer looks at architectural landmarks, including the massive Santa Maria Cathedral. The church's neoclassical facade gives way to a Renaissance interior, though its real draw is the towering bell tower or campanile – a Catalan Gothic structure that dominates Alghero's skyline. For a taste of 'la dolce vita', do as the locals do and sit down for a cappuccino at Caffè Constantino in Piazza Civica.

It would be a mistake to visit Alghero and not explore the nearby Riviera del Corallo – a coastal region dominated by golden beaches, rocky cliffs and red corals that inspired the area's name. Along with picturesque sands, the Riviera is home to impressive sights, including Neptune's Grotto – a massive, prehistoric sea cave you can visit by boat – and the 1864 Capo Caccia Lighthouse, whose working light alerts passing ships to avoid the cliff it stands on.

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