The Sardinian island of Asinara, the sprawling, unspoilt nature of which inspired our summer capsule with Pimpiripette
I love coming across parts of Italy I haven't heard of before, and I hadn't heard of Asinara before talking to Cristina, mother, founder and designer behind Pimpiripette, about what inspired the pieces she made for us this summer. What she told me was that it is an island abundant in nature, unspoilt and untouched.
She said that the Maia and Achille set in particular, with their loose silhouettes and earth tones, are all about freedom and invulnerable innocence of childhood, the hunt for adventure, all things that took her back to a trip to Asinara.
I was intrigued, and this is what I have learned:
Lying off the north west coast of Sardinia, Asinara is thought to be as wild as Italy gets. It is uninhabited, animals roam freely, wind sweeps across empty beaches. The water is clear and azure.
Some of the abandoned buildings date back to the 1600's. It's thought to have been home to communities of shepherds, under various regimes, until 1885 when all residents were forced to leave because the island was to become a maximum security prison and sanatorium. In the 20th century it became known as the Italian Alcatraz, hosting famous mafia bosses like Toto Riina. The island was completely off limits to the world until as recently as 2002, when it was declared a national park and opened to the public. The prison buildings remain, dilapidated, heavy with history and unheard tales, I think ready to be explored by brave little girls and boys.
The island is home to many famously white donkeys, peregrine falcons, wild boars, wild goats and mouflons, I imagine a particular delight for tiny visitors.
Mostly, the hiking trails and beaches seem to hold the true magic of the place. I have read about Cala Sabina and Cala dei Detenuti. The horizons are vast, the landscape is unique and wild, the beaches are untouched and mostly not frequented.
You can get there by private boat from Stintino (Sardinia), and get around the island by renting a jeep. There's a hotel called La Locanda Del Parco, with a few rooms and fresh food made using locally sourced ingredients.
They say it's best to visit in Spring, the Italian Primavera. I wonder if next April we'll hear of any little Baboushkinos romping around in their Pimpiripette, chasing donkeys, climbing up the stony walls of abandoned prisons, splashing the bluest of blue waters into the faces of their brothers and sisters..