Oliena | Sardinian Experience

Su Gologone (they couldn’t have invented a name like that, and in fact it refers to the country district in which it’s located, just outside Oliena in eastern Sardinia) is the first one I know that calls itself an Experience Hotel. Here’s why. It’s hardly boutique with almost 70 rooms, yet even the simplest are individually decorated in a busy, colourful style perfectly in keeping with Sardinian craft traditions: iron and wooden furniture, ceramics, textiles and embroidery. Then there are numerous Art Suites each dedicated to a 20th-century Sardinian artist (Francesco Ciusa, Federico Melis, Giuseppe Biasi and Edina Altara are among the best-known), Shepherd’s Rooms indulging rural traditions right down to the hand-carved furniture and woollen fabrics woven locally, and the splendiferous Bride’s Room containing all the elaborate trappings of traditional wedding rites and dowry.

No such experience would be complete if it didn’t explore the gastronomic vein too, and Su Gologone goes the whole hog (or suckling pig in this case) with superb regional cuisine including spit-roasted meats, local sheep’s cheeses and salamis, homemade breads and pasta and all the honeyed sweetness of Sardinian pastries. Excellent wines and olive oils abound in the restaurant and in the cellar wine bar too. Pretty much everything is locally sourced.

If that already sounds like experience enough, actually you’ve barely begun. Total cultural immersion also involves demonstrations of ancient techniques in all those arts and crafts mentioned above, plus breadmaking and cooking, by local experts in their own workshops on the premises, with courses in many specialities for hands-on guests. All this in a sprawling white-painted complex (some of it dating back to the 1600s) complete with  lounge and terrace areas galore, glorious gardens, tennis courts and a pool fed from its own spring, in the quiet and stunning natural surroundings of the Supramonte area in Sardinia‘s mountainous heart. But only 20 minutes’ drive from some of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful beaches – if you still have the energy.