The first real party of the Costa Smerlda’s tourist era was the inauguration of Baja Sardinia, on 14 July, 1962. In just eight months, the village came to life. The Pappagallo restaurant was completed, as well as the dance club where Mingardi and Gualdi played with their band, where summer evenings met embryonic sparks of love stories.
The first residences, Villa Mon Repos and Villa Hermitage, had already been already built. To give the idea of a village, you need accommodation. But we couldn’t get it built by the summer, so near the Pappagallo restaurant we set up 10 prefab buildings from the Chizzolini company of Brescia. We entrused the furnishings to a Sardinian artisan company, located in Luogosanto, which turned them into comfortable rooms, the first on the entire Costa Smeralda.
They came from all over to see Baja and to dine at the Pappagallo, where there was often a queue to get in. People waited and we went to great lengths to make sure everyone was happy. Among the many guests were Monica Vitti and Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the most original couples in Italian cinema. She was beautiful, sunny, exuberant, full of spirit and youth. As soon as the music started she began to dance in an uninhibited, sensual way. She danced alone: free, casual and confident in her beauty. It was the 60s, the years of the Dolce Vita, in which women took possession of a dormant femininity and displayed it unashamedly.
Around the dancefloor people did the twist and patchanka amidst tables of blondes, often in bikinis, riding the wave of the economic boom, in scenes that seemed straight from the silver screen. “I’ll take you to Baja Sardinia and kiss your lips…”, everyone sang the lyrics that the band had written for us and that soon were on everyone’s lips, including in the Costa Smeralda.
After months of work, including Saturdays and Sundays, everything was ready for the inauguration. Guests flocked, including Ugo Tognazzi, Shirley Douglas, Rafael Neville, Baron and Baroness Gilardoni, Count Podbielski and the ambassadors from New York and Tokyo. It was a beautiful day: the sea sparkled, creating a striking setting; the restaurant was reserved for 50 guests, with services and equipment brought over from Bologna.
Another noteworthy character also attended: Oreste, a handsome and chatty parrot, on a work trip from Bologna, ready to welcome guests with his cheerful greetings. The band created a party atmosphere, accompanying guests to the notes of songs that would become the soundtrack of the whole summer. The evening culminated in a fireworks display and was a resounding success: Baja Sardinia became, from that moment, the first tourist outpost on the Costa Smeralda.
There are also paddle boats, imported from Romagna. We use them to win over the girls: the little boat brought romance, and a far more intimate approach, far from prying eyes and lulled by the gentle waves of the crystal clear sea, the ideal setting for a summer fling full of hope. We showed how gentlemanly we were, rowing to show off our muscles, and brought the girls to the most hidden corners of the island, delighted by the illusion of being the only ones to have discovered them.