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By Irina Pushkova
Costa Smeralda translated from Italian means the Emerald Coast. This combination of words very accurately conveys the predominant color of the sea in the northern part of Sardinia. In the early 1950's Costa Smeralda, formerly known as Monti di Mola, was a wild coast of the north-eastern Sardinia with deserted beaches, fine white sand and granite rocks of spectacular shapes. Back then Costa Smeralda was an uninhabited area with no roads or any infrastructure. Only a few people in the world knew about the existence of this wonderful nook in Sardinia, and Sardinia was considered a very inhospitable land inhabited by gangsters.
In early 1960's an employee of the World Bank, Mr. Duncan Miller, was sent to Sardinia to verify the results of a large pest control campaign. He was so fascinated by the natural beauty of the island that he convinced a group of friends to visit this land. Among his friends was a young graduate from Harvard University, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV. The prince having seen the several kilometers of pristine beaches on the north-east of Sardinia immediately understood its boundless commercial value. At the same time he was overwhelmed with a deep feeling and an irresistible attraction towards this land. That was the beginning of a great business initiative, which has turned the wild north-eastern coast of Sardinia in an organized holiday paradise.
In 1962 a group of industrialists and financiers from different countries, led by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, founded a consortium called Costa Smeralda. The main idea of the consortium was to settle the northeastern coast of Sardinia in order to implement a major project on the development of elite tourism in the municipality of Arzachena and Olbia. In a short time the consortium has acquired about 3 thousand hectares of coastal land. The project included the construction of the airport, the establishment of airlines, building of five-star hotels and luxury villas on the territory of Monti di Mola which was renamed into Costa Smeralda. Development and observation of certain strict rules during this campaign has contributed into the preservation of the virgin natural landscape of the north-eastern coast of Sardinia and allowed us to enjoy its original beauty today. In order to protect and preserve the land and the environment of Costa Smeralda it was forbidden to plant many species of plants. Close attention to the environment and the homogeneity of the architectural ensemble of the Costa Smeralda were the main objectives of this project.
The first luxury hotels and exclusive villas on Costa Smeralda were put into operation in 1963 - 1964. This time can be called a new era in the history of economic development of Gallura (northern coast of Sardinia). From this moment Arzachena and to some extent Sardinia obtained their new "glamorous" look. The world's elite began gathering on Costa Smeralda during summer months seeking refuge from annoying fans and prying paparazzi. World-famous movie stars, sportsmen, showmen and businessmen started liking the luxury and at the same time peacefulness and solitude of Costa Smeralda every time finding themselves in an ecologically clean region with unique natural landscapes.
The capital and the heart of Costa Smeralda is a small town named Porto Cervo. Today Porto Cervo offers everything that a rich person can wish: beautiful beaches (Liscia Ruja, Romazzino, Capriccioli, Il Pevero, La Chelvia, Rena Bianca, spiaggia del Principe), marinas, trendy clubs and restaurants, luxury villas and hotels, sports facilities, golf courses, leading designers clothing and accessories boutiques.
The symbols of Costa Smeralda are three hotels: Cervo, Pitrizza and Cala di Volpe. These hotels belong to the class of luxury and are well-known in elite tourism.
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