Updated: Jan 21, 2020
The ramparts of the Malaspina Castle can be seen from any spot in Bosa.
Most Americans haven't heard of Bosa in Sardinia yet. If you've been wanting to go to Positano but have been scared off by the prices, you can still find your dream beach vacation in Italy. We stayed in the Palazzo Sa Pischeda, the highest-priced hotel we could find in town and were amazed by how inexpensive it was.
This is the view from our private terrace.
The large terrace was an unexpected bonus.
The hotel features two of the friendliest and most helpful receptionists that we've ever met. They gave us insider hints and called ahead to book boat trips for us. The town of Bosa is about a mile inland from its sister town, Bosa Marina. The towns are connected by a navigable river where tourists can take sightseeing trips all the way to the ocean. Bosa was founded in the Middle Ages when people from the coast fled pirates and swore allegiance to the Malaspina family for protection. The castle ramparts are still a major tourist attraction. Inside the walls is a small church built in the 14th century and dedicated to Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos, whom townspeople credit with saving them from the plague. The church and its frescoes have been restored and attract art lovers and history buffs.
The medieval frescoes are from the era of Catalan rule in Sardinia.
The church of Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos is inside the castle walls.
Nighttime is magical in Bosa.
The local beach is spectacular and boasts some of the cleanest water in Italy.
There are several "town" beaches in Bosa. Although the landscape is rugged, there is plenty of smooth sand and even a snack bar with a well-equipped bar. The closest beach is free if you walk and there is only a nominal price for parking. You can also take snorkel and diving trips from one of the tour operators in town. One of the most popular is L'Altro Turismo, a company that also offers kayak and bike rentals. When you're back in town after a beach day, there are many seafood restaurants to try and several are especially charming as they resemble caves.
One of our favorite Bosa restaurants, Sa Nassa, features fresh seafood and a cave-like setting.
We had the good fortune to be in Bosa for the annual weekend festival dedicated to Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos (our lady of the holy kingdom above). Local families take part in processions that travel from the church inside the castle ramparts down through the town to the Cathedral, also dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The prime statue of the Virgin is carried past the homes of people who have decorated their own family shrines to the Virgin. At first we were a little shy about taking pictures, but then we noticed that everyone seemed to be snapping pictures of the shrines. Building up our courage, we started asking different families a little about their displays. They were thrilled by our interest and particularly pleased to hear that we were Americans since so few Americans have made their way to Bosa. We heard that the statues have been in families for so many hundreds of years that the current people didn't know when the family first made their shrines. Part of the tradition is to welcome visitors with sweets, so we indulged in delicious pastries with our new Sardinian friends.
Our favorite display was in a garage that felt like an ancient cave.
The family matriarch invited us to enter her "cave" shrine.
These family members told us that the crucifix is more than 200 years old. They look forward to getting together each year in September to build their display.