Where the sun (al­most) al­ways shines

For­get rainy Bri­tain—carla Passino finds where the sun shines for long­est in the Mediter­ranean

Country Life Every Week - - Mediterranean Hotspots -

Sar­dinia, Italy

Sar­dinia is vir­tu­ally a syn­onym for pris­tine beaches, turquoise wa­ters and se­cret bays, but Italy’s sec­ond-largest is­land has even more to of­fer. The coun­try­side is dot­ted with me­dieval churches, pre­his­toric shrines and nuraghi—huge stone build­ings left by a Bronze Age cul­ture that’s unique to Sar­dinia.

On the coast, Ro­man ru­ins stretch at the foot of sturdy forts built to ward off pi­rates and, in cities such as Cagliari and Al­ghero, the rich ar­chi­tec­ture bears wit­ness to the is­land’s tu­mul­tuous his­tory at the crossroads of the Mediter­ranean. The weather is great, too, with 2,600 hours of sun­shine a year.

Tip The team at Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Real Es­tate sug­gests eat­ing al­fresco at Il Pesca­tore, in Ma­rina di Porto Cervo

Provence and Côte d’azur, France

Sand­wiched be­tween moun­tains and sea, the coast­line be­tween Nice and Mar­seille is a sun­trap, with more than 2,700 clear hours ev­ery year. That said, there’s a dif­fer­ence in tem­per­a­ture—and life­style—be­tween the seashore and vil­lages in­land. For glitz, glam­our and warmth, noth­ing beats the yacht-studded bays of the Riviera, but for a more un­der­stated slice of France, head for the hills: you’ll trade a cou­ple of de­grees for bastides, laven­der fields and the night sky that in­spired Van Gogh. Tip Climb up to Le Trophée d’au­guste, in La Tur­bie—this Ro­man ruin over­looks the coast from Cannes to the Ital­ian Riviera.

Al­garve, Por­tu­gal

The Al­garve has the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of sun­shine—about 3,000 hours each year —and golden beaches bathed by limpid wa­ters. Add to this miles of lush coun­try­side, pic­turesque towns such as Silves and Tavira plus fab­u­lous food. The east­ern Al­garve is a golfer’s par­adise, but the rugged west will suit wilder spir­its.

Tip Niki Ri­ley of Sav­ills rec­om­mends Maria’s Beach Restau­rant in Praia do Gar­rão Poente: ‘The in­cred­i­ble deck lounge is the per­fect place for re­lax­ing.’

An­dalu­sia, Spain

You’re spoilt for choice here: most ar­eas en­joy be­tween 2,700 and 3,000 sun­shine hours ev­ery year. Among the top per­form­ers is the sherry cen­tre Jerez de la Fron­tera, a maze of cob­bled streets filled with rhyth­mic fla­menco and clat­ter­ing horses’ hooves. Don’t miss Cór­doba, jewel of Moor­ish Spain, and fash­ion­able Mar­bella, with golden beaches, sand dunes and el­e­gant coun­try clubs.

Tip Sun­set at the Ro­man ru­ins of Baelo Clau­dia fring­ing the beach at Bolo­nia, near Al­ge­ci­ras

Cyprus

Leg­end has it that Aphrodite, the Greek god­dess of love and beauty, was born on Cyprus and much of her al­lure has rubbed off on the is­land. Crys­talline wa­ters lap per­fect white beaches, an­cient tem­ples soar above the coast­line and, in­land, the mou­flon plays hide and seek in the Troo­dos Moun­tains. For Bri­tish vis­i­tors, the balmy cli­mate is a huge draw: Cyprus en­joys about 3,300 hours of sun­shine per year—more than twice the UK av­er­age.

Tip Eleft­he­ria Voskari­dou of Li­mas­sol Del Mar rec­om­mends vis­it­ing Lady’s Mile beach: ‘You can al­ways find space to re­lax in the sun­shine.’

La Tiara di Cervo, from €5.9 mil­lion Set on Sar­dinia’s Porto Cervo hill­side, this is a ser­viced de­vel­op­ment fea­tur­ing gar­den vil­las and pent­houses. Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Real Es­tate (www.christies­realestate.com; 020–3823 6544)

Les Parettes, €4.5 mil­lion Once owned by Edith Piaf, this 19th-cen­tury bastide near Plas­cassiers has eight bed­rooms, a ten­nis court and a heated pool. Ayles­ford In­ter­na­tional (020–7351 2383; www.ayles­ford.com)

Quinta do Lago, €12 mil­lion An eight-bed­room house with panoramic views of the south-course fair­way and the sea be­yond. Sav­ills (020–7016 3740; www. sav­ills.com)

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