top of page
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Vimeo - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle

Glitz and elegance by Aga Khan

Porto Cervo is the most famous holiday resort on the island, born in the sixties from the innovative idea of Prince Karim Aga Khan, who fell in love at first sight with this unique gulf and its splendid beaches.


The name Porto Cervo derives precisely from its bay in the shape of a deer, now a luxurious tourist port, here the best architects and engineers of the time used a unique architectural style all over the world which included a mixture of Sardinian and Spanish forms and styles. Provencal, Capri, Amalfi, Greek, Apulian, Sicilian and Maghrebi, all harmoniously integrated with the surrounding nature.

At the time of its design, the prince and his collaborators thought they could create an architecture that kept as much continuity as possible with the typical Gallura one, with a poor and rudimentary aspect but discreetly inserted into the surrounding environment and this was the key to the success. This type of architecture spread throughout the north-east coast and is still current and imitated today.
In any case, for impartiality, this interpretation must be accompanied by that of official criticism, not without some clarifications on the events and on the people who generated this "architecture".

The prince, having bought the land and being very badly advised, did not call any architect but turned to a set designer, the Frenchman Jacques Couelle, who indulged himself in his scenographic fantasies. It was even invented that the Hotel Cala di Volpe should be built on the ruins of a never existing high-medieval convent, of which today naive tourists admire the false foundations ad opus incertum and reticulatum with conviction. But in order for his charcoal drawings to be made feasible, it was necessary to call an architect and the choice fell on the architect. Vietti, known for his beautiful restorations in the Ligurian harbors, the Piani di Portofino and Cortina D'Ampezzo and for a great landscape sensitivity that united him to the Aga Kahn mentality. Vietti, however, was forced to transform Couelle's sketches into projects, then, of course, he had to defend them. He tried to justify the work by defining it as "that architectural expression that would have been born in Gallura if its historical, economic and cultural conditions had allowed it". Or as a meta-synopsis of a hypothetical "spontaneous pan-Mediterranean architecture" completely decontextualized.


Portocervina building is therefore an authentic theatrical invention. A mixture of Sardinian, Spanish, Provençal, Capri, Amalfi, Greek, Apulian, Sicilian and Maghreb shapes and styles. No great architect took part in the undertaking; Busiri Vici intervened only partially by creating the only architectural gem: the Stella Maris church, a hotel and some villas. While the official criticism has always condemned the work by placing it in the category of luxury kitsch (and in any case well outside a possible architectural, formal and stylistic dignity) and therefore ignored it, there is no doubt that the "style "portocervino has enjoyed enormous national-popular success, which, although now in sharp decline, perhaps continues today. Not so works like the Cala di Volpe hotel and others that still remain an outrage to architecture and culture in general.


The beaches of Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda are considered among the most beautiful in all of Sardinia, to name a few the beach of Liscia Ruia with its pinkish sand, or the beach of Romazzino surrounded by thick foliage of rosemary.

bottom of page