Stazzo Retreat Built into Sardinian Ruins Sits a Stone’s Throw from the Costa Smeralda

If Italy sets the standard in Europe for big-hearted hospitality, then Sardinia humbly lifts the bar a little higher. One of the newest hotels on the island known for its famous emerald coastline is no exception. 

Tucked into the rolling hills of Sardinia’s northeast – not far from the Costa Smeralda – Gallicantu is a character-filled, honey-colored country estate that fits lovingly within the rocky scrubland of the Alta Gallura region. The stazzo (farmhouse) retreat serves as a love letter to this corner of the island.      

Galllicantu’s passionate owner Marco Berio bought the property in 2017 and took five years to restore it, discovering nooks and crannies along the way, including a pre-Nuragic-era cave (think: older than the 1700s BCE) that he transformed into a wine cellar and tasting “cavern.” 

Nearby, a glass-walled dining room is built into one of the property’s signature massive boulders and seemingly floats above the valley below it. The setting is perfect around sunset, when a small group of lucky diners get to tuck into the views and the set menu that’s prepared nightly.

More amenities and activities might convince guests to forgo the beach for a day and stick around Gallicantu’s grounds – from a serene pool that acts as a private club to evening aperitivo with fellow guests in the gardens. Berio, a longtime golf pro, offers lessons onsite. In each guest room, travelers will find a natural guide to the land, which they can consult on a nature walk around the estate and into a practically enchanted forest.  

Back in the rooms, Berio and architect Jean Claude Lesuisse have added a minimalist but intentional touch, contrasting curving stone walls with rock slabs, carved wood, and metal latticework. The combination creates a design that’s at once soft and commanding, like the place it inhabits. Gallicantu and Sardinia beg you to stay. With this kind of easy luxury, how couldn’t you?   

Top Takeaways

Location: Luogosanto, Sardinia

Rating: Four-Star

The Vibe: Like it’s Sunday, and you’ve left the party on the Costa Smeralda to unwind in the countryside – but without sacrificing any amenities.     

Food + Drink: Daily fresh breakfast is included and served with local pastries, breads, and cheeses in the solarium dining room. Evening aperitivo takes place in the courtyard, while wines are served just before dinner with preserves and crackers in the “Cavern” cellar. Dinner is a four-course set menu featuring seasonal produce and homemade pastas open to guests as well as visitors.     

Amenities: A small spa includes the sauna, steam room, and sensory showers, but guests can also reserve massages. An oasis pool flanked by a rock waterfall acts like an inland lido, with loungers, music, and an honor bar stocked with coffee, cold drinks, and ice cream. 

Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: The abandoned property was painstakingly restored by owner Marco Berio and architect Jean Claude Lesuisse to create natural lines and organic features throughout the construction. The way that guest spaces now give way to nature and vice versa is just magical.  

What’s nearby?: Costa Smeralda, La Maddalena, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Capo Testa, Valle della Luna           

Any neighborhood recs?: The Gallura region in Sardinia’s Northeast is known for the island’s only DOCG wine, Vermentino di Gallura. You can taste some exemplary local producers in Gallicantu’s Cavern, the natural stone-walled cellar. Or ask for recommendations of tasting rooms to try out across the scenic Alta Gallura. Be sure to take a mini pilgrimage to any of the two-dozen sanctuaries scattered around Luogosanto (which translates to “holy place”). And let nature lead you from the boulder- and brush-adorned property to farther flung mountains and beaches. San Pantaleo is a sweet nearby village for lunch, a stroll, and window-shopping.       

Rooms: Five guest rooms and two suites 

Pricing: Starting at 300 euros per night in the high season

Closest Airport: Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is 25 miles (45 minutes) by car.

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