We dropped anchor in the glistening Bay of Alghero at 7am. The ancient city of Alghero was just off our starboard. I could make out its massive sandstone walls and 15th century defensive towers. Spanish Catalans governed Alghero for generations and that language is present everywhere, from the dual language street signs to the actual language spoken by the people.

Our first visit was to the remarkable grotto of Neptune. This natural cave sits with its entrance open to the sea and entering it is always a challenge. Once inside we were astonished by the beauty of the stalagmites and stalactites. They gleamed with an ivory brilliance and took millions of years to form. As we went deeper into the cave’s depths, we passed aquamarine pools of water with multicolored mineral walls. We next took a walking tour of the old city, which is essentially a late medieval city marked by a lovely old Gothic Cathedral.

After lunch we visited the organic vineyard and olive orchard of Ledà. Our host, the owner, explained the differences between the three major wines of Sardinia and the precise processes that go into producing “extra virgin” olive oil. During her explanation, we were able to sample each of the wines with a variety of pecorino cheeses and wonderful olive oil. Many of us purchased both oil and wine.