Cruising between Nice and Venice - Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, etc

Looks like we’ll be cruising in May and hitting a handful of small ports that don’t have much intel here (food, wine, sights). Would love ANY suggestions for what to day in one day (and only ONE day in each place, it’s a cruise!) in and around the following places… We’ve never been to Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and unfortunately the locations of the ports are not ideally situated to hit some of the more well known food/wine destinations, but I’m sure we will not lack for interesting destinations regardless.

Frejus/Saint-Raphael, France… anyone been to Recif restaurant? Aix is nearest “interesting” town. Not enough time to make it to Chateauneuf de Pape…

Bastia, Corsica… wish I could make it to Mattei Distillery/Domaine Mavela, but that is a bit far, and they do have a shop in town.

Trapani, Sicily… we will likely do a private food/wine tour, stop at a sheep cheesemaker, they suggest Tenute Olbios for wine, and Il Mattachione near Olbia for lunch, any thoughts welcome!

Sarande, Albania… no idea, haven’t researched yet

Kotor… more likely to do a small group tour here to see the sights

Zadar… no idea, haven’t researched yet

Quite a tour!
Where will you dock in Sardinia?

As for Zadar - while it’s not my favorite Dalmatian town it is undoubtedly a very beautiful costal town to just walk around, have a good meal and drinks of course! I let you search for the touristic bits but like many other towns very lovely and well preserved old town.

Been a long time since I ate in the town but the water around there is among the best in the Mediterranean Sea, in a good restaurant everything from the sea should be great. Octopus, squids (and black risottos), lobster, langoustine (w buzara sauce), fresh fishes (John Dory, Scorpion fish, wild sea bass, etc). Tuna on the other hand is probably not local, most gets exported to Japan. If they have fresh oysters from Ston - go for it they are delicious. Peka is something else really worth trying but I don’t think you can find any really good places in town (needs to be ordered the day before and usually the a bit out of the way places are the best). I’ll stop now, I’m sure you get the idea :smiley:

One restaurant I had notes to try was Bruschetta. Can’t say if/how good but one place that after researching got a visit tag…

Pag which is near by is famous for sheep (eat and cheese), and the hard sheep cheese is as good as it gets, and that’s something common with Sardinia! Wine from the region is not specifically noteworthy, though I had a god wine from Boskinac - and while I think you won’t make it there (probably too far off), it’s probably one of the best places for fine dining in Croatia.

Another great restaurant quite scenic is a bit out of town (will try to recall if you would consider leaving Zadar but can imagine you want to limit the traveling).


Thanks, Mikael. Sardinia port is at Golfo Aranci, near Olbia.

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Alghero is perhaps the only town I would spend time in a when in Sardinia. I am not sure it will be warm enough to hit the beach when you are but if it is then that’s what I would, OR, arrange for a tour inland of the island and head to a proper agriturismo where they produce everything locally (or have neighbors making some of the things). Suckling pig/and or lamb (should be good time for lamb if you like it), they will for sure have pecorino, probably some local Cannonau/Vermentino, mirto and so on.

Some areas inland is not for driving in the dark, we learnt the hard way but survived staying on the road and without hitting a cow or two.

Wish I could recommend one for you but a friend with local connection arranged everything when there together.

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Additional questions…

From Frejus, Domaine Tempier is just over an hour away - any thoughts on if it’s worth the trek to taste at the temple of Bandol rose?

In Nice, anyone been to Franchin, La Part des Anges (wine bar/shop), Pure & V, or Les Agitateurs? We have one dinner and one lunch, and thinking of hitting two of those four.

Mais oui! Mind you, when I went to Tempier almost exactly 3 years to today’s date, it was by email appointment and we spent a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours during our tour/tasting. A great visit and we sampled 5 wines.

Re: Trapani
Had the best Pesto Trapanese Pasta dish in my life at Bettolaccia. A few local Sicilian restaurants here in NYC can never quite duplicate the dish.
Also, terrific pizza at Calvino.

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On the trip mentioned in the original post now, so capturing some notes…

Nice: hadn’t been in 30 years and was pleasantly surprised, especially the wonderful morning market filled with humongous white and green asparagus, squash blossoms, local pastries, the most beautiful strawberries gariguette I’ve ever seen, etc. Chagall Museum is a must, stunning.

  • La Parte des Anges - lovely little natural-leaning wine shop with a small area for dining. Dinner was simple but excellent tinned fish with herb butter and toasted baguette, a meat and cheese tray, and a separate order of a round of fresh local chevre drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and green onion. Fantastic. Short menu of wines by the glass that they offered tastes of liberally. Nothing earth shaking, but you can also pick any bottle of the shelf and open at retail price. Picked up a handful of wines for the trip ahead, including a stellar '09 Le Moutherot by Georges Comte, 15 Bandol Rouge, delicious La Dilettante sparkling vouvray, fascinating La Releve Tavel, and a few artisan pastis.
  • Les Agitateurs - lunch at Michelin *, and it exceeded expectations. Prix fixe menus in a regular and vegetarian version, we tried both and glad we did. Creative, artful, flat out delicious, and clearly of the place, all while balancing casual elegance and adventurous cuisine. Had a rockin '20 Ramonet Bouzeron for 50 euro, and a pour from magnum of 21 Arnaud Baillot Bourgogne Cote D’Or (rouge, mais ouis) that hit the spot for friendly affordable burg.

Boarded the boat in Monaco, woke up in Saint Raphael. Waste of a port day, not much of interest, but had an excellent La Chouffe biere on draft with pomme frites at a seaside bar.

Next morning, Corsica, port of Bastia. We hired Patrimonio Wine Tours for a half day outing. Dominique is very knowledgeable and en excellent guide, highly recommended, both for the wine aspects but also for history and local culture. We drove up over the hills to overlook the Patrimonio wine region, absolutely beautiful and unique with ocean winds entering the valley.

  • First stop was Yves Leccia, a few of whose wines make their way to the US via Kermit Lynch. Lovely little tasting room where we went through their YL Ile de Beaute rouge (80% grenache), E Croce rouge (90/10 Nielluciù/grenache) and blanc (vermentinu) Patrimonio, L’altru Viancu, E Croce rose (Nielluciù-based), and Muscat. All steel, no barrels. Clearly well made wines. I was pleasantly surprised with the elegance of the reds, herbal, cinnamon notes, clear presence of the unique limestone/schist/clay soils. Very pretty muscat du Cap Corse, pretty and floral, on the lighter side. Reminds me of Spain.
  • Second stop was Domaine Orenga de Gaffory a few miles away, where we started in the vineyards then headed in to the tasting room. Tried the Vermentinu, 19 Cuvee Felice (90% Niellucciu/GRenache) and 19 Cuvee des Gouverneurs 100% Niellucciu, 2016 Scala Santa (90% Minustrellu/Nielluciu), 22 Rose (80% Nielluccio/Sciaccarellu) - all nice - they use used oak here selectively, for the Cuvee Felice for example, as these are more robust and benefit from it. But then we moved on to three muscat de cap corse. First the 22, then the 2013 Impassitu, then the 2008! The 22 was lovely, dense, on the syrupy side (v different than Yves Leccia), orange blossom and honey. The Impassitu (late harvest left out to dry further after picking) was denser still. And then the 08 really hit home, with almond and bitter orange notes, a touch towards sherry character, really outstanding.
  • Nice lunch back in Bastia at L’epica, with outstanding fresh brebis-stuffed beignets to start! Other dishes (pasta with gambas, stuffed mussels, grilled dourade) were nice, but didn’t match the starter.
  • Quick visit to Mattei “Concept Store” to taste their vermouth and liqueurs. A must. Very nice wine shop as well with a broad selection of french wines and spirits from around the world.

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On to Sardinia, where we spent the day with Claudio of Sardinia Slow Experience, another excellent guide for both history and culture/wine/food that I would highly recommend. We visited some archaeological sites for some of the islands history, then shifted gears toward wine and food.

  • Tentute Olbios is one of the area’s best wineries (we were told) and makes for a wonderful visit. The tasting room and winery overlooks the vineyards with highly grantic soil, and we started in the downstairs cellar, where aging racks of sparkling vermentino took up most of the floor, mostly 2014 vintage still awaiting secondary fermentation. The wine tasting was accompanied by fantastic meat and cheese/fruit plates with the local flatbread. So good. '22 Lupusin Fabula (vermentino di gallura), '21 Cave Rose (cannonau di Sardegna=grenache), and '19 CanGrande (colli del limbara rosso with some used french oak barrique) - all nice - the vermentino being smooth and medium body with nice floral and mineral balance, the rose having a bit of welcome barnyard funk and herbal/hibiscus character to balance out the strawberry notes, the con grande with a gorgeous nose of cherry kirsch and a bit sauvage/forest bark-y). Then the kicker - the '13 Bisso sparkling vermentino (metodo classico millesimato = methode champegnoise) - holy moly. Gorgeous gold color, light bubbles, soft yeast and lemon curd on the nose, a little salty? (the air certainly is), crisp quince and fruit with a pleasant sweetness despite zero dosage. LOVED it.
  • From there, on to a young shepherd/cheesemaker Pietro at Antica Caresi doing great things up in the hills overlooking Olbia. Suffice it to say a visit here (if you can make it happen) through Claudio is an absolute must for stunning sheep cheeses from fresh to 1yr plus, including a French-style version that blew our socks off. Wonderful hospitality. They also have a guest house if you are in need of accommodation!


Continuing southward to Siciliy, Trapani to be precise. We worked with Gianni Grillo of Easy Trapani wine and history tours, another excellent guide who has deep historical expertise and a passion for the local food/wine. We walked the old hill town of Erice, including a great stop for the famous pastries at Pasticceria Maria - best cannoli we’ve ever had, but wow those Genovesi too. The next few hours were an experience at an old winery where we had an incredible lunch… have to go now… but will provide more details later.


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A few shots of Patrimonio vineyards - the top shot is from the mountain overlooking the eastern side of the valley and sites most of the region:


Looping back to our wine selections from the shop at La Parte des Anges - kudos to them for helping choose some real bangers - the Georges Comtes was a delight (and totally new to me) and then last night we opened the 15 la Tour du Bon Bandol and wow it was in a sweet spot. 3hrs in the decanter, amazingly harmonious, dark but also bright, graphite but also supple, a touch funky but utterly beautiful. I wish i had more aged Bandol like this!

Happy to report that LD restaurant in Korcula is just as excellent as it was two years ago, AND that they still carry the outstanding (among Croatian whites) Krajancic Posip Melaina/Statut - the 2015 and 2017 versions are on the menu currently. We didn’t get to eat outside in the terrace (with the amazing views) this time around due to rain, but the small interior dining room was just fine.

LD Restaurant, Korcula:

Hope you didn’t miss out on trying a few Grk wines!
Or a few Plavac from across the sea from Korcula…

Wrapped up the trip in Venice - and damn it’s simply a magical place. We’ve been a few times before, but riding in on the water taxi then exploring the narrow alleys is always such a trip to another time and space. Testiere for lunch was wonderful as ever, Antiche carampane was very good but could not hit the same highs quite as well. Nice Veneto soaves with both meals, which just goes so well with the local seafood.

The day before was Zadar, which is a lovely little old town perfect for strolling for a few hours. The local market was showing off the thin fresh asparagus and thick fava beans. Found a great cheese borek, several really nice local cheeses (including a spectacular aged one wrapped in smoked tobacco leaf), excellent local prosciutto… didn’t sit down for a meal though. The famous “sea organ” that makes music from the force of the waves is really an experience that connects you to the water/earth in unexpected ways. A sip of bibich’s maraschino from their tasting room hit the spot, too.

Overall thoughts - this cruise hit some out of the way spots that don’t get much attention, some for good reason, others not.

Nice, France - really glad we were able to spend 24hrs there, the old town is charming, the Chagall museum outstanding, excellent food and wine options (and of course infinite day trips if we had more time).

Frejus/Saint Raphael - total waste of time, no reason to go there, wish Tempier had been open that day for an excursion (about 90 min away).

Bastia, Corsica - nice old town, not destination worthy itself, but getting out to Patrimonio and the countryside was a great experience and a really unique wine region. Glad we picked up a few bottles of the local Muscat du Cap Corse.

Golfo Aranci, Sardinia - the port is NOT a destination, but getting out into the hills, seeing some of the ancient ruins, and visiting Tenute Olbios winery plus a local shepherd/cheesemaker was among our favorite experiences of the trip.

Trapani, Sicily - while this is not what people think of for Sicily, we really enjoyed walking the town, nearby hill town Erice, and getting an amazing meal at an old winery out in the countryside.

Sarande, Albania - ummm, not ready for prime time? Visiting the ruins in Butrint is really the only distinctive thing in the area, and while interesting, doesn’t measure up to other major destinations in the broader region. Skip it.

Kotor, Montenegro - the most stunning location of the trip, with the steep hills and beautiful waters coming together around the wonderfully restored little old town. Climbing up to the fortress was one of our favorite experiences of the trip as well.

Korcula, Croatia - we were here two years ago and loved it, and while the weather was terrible this time, getting to LD restaurant was a treat.

Zadar, Croatia - charming town that’s not as touristy (nor quite as interesting/pretty) as Split or Dubrovnik, but glad we were able to spend the day there.

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I haven’t really mentioned the wine program aboard Seabourn. Basically, they offer a complimentary selection of wines, a fairly robust list of premium wines you pay for at roughly restaurant pricing, and free “corkage” on anything you bring aboard.

The complimentary wines are for the most part not worth drinking (for Berserkers) super market level wines that would typically retail from $8-15, think Oyster Bay sauv blanc, with a few exceptions, most notably the Mountadon Brut champagne which appears to be their house champagne (we saw them loading pallets of it, and it was in our room when we arrived). It’s a solid mainstream champagne and became our default order. We tried a bunch of other free wines over the course of the cruise, and a few were decent but nothing to get excited about it, even when they offered something local based on our port (which was rare).

The premium list actually was impressive, and you could find interesting wines from just about any major region, including some older vintages, but like I said, restaurant priced, and it’s hard to justify that over 10 days when you can bring your own wine aboard.