Homage to Ca
In Spain’s Catalonia, Anne Cooke finds a place of memorable culture, cuisi
Articulate, casual and handsome, he also added a sense of humour to history’s whys and wherefores.
And a good thing, too, since he was a lookalike for Dexter, the killer in the eponymous TV drama, for which he endured some friendly ribbing.
With a brief stop at the tourist office, we crossed the Sant Felui Bridge and made for the town’s old city centre, now restored, awash in gardens and crisscrossed by spacious squares and narrow cobblestone passages. Plunging into the heart of the medieval quarter, we poked through every block, looking at fragments of the Roman road – the Via Augusta – tiny medieval houses, 12thcentury churches, portions of the old city walls, the half-hidden Jewish quarter, and among these, newer buildings.
Armed with the street map, I nailed the directions. But I lagged behind to look at some flowers, took awrong turn across another bridge and wound up on Independence Square, where the city’s better stores and old and new architecture styles mix and match.
An unexpected revelation was a tour of St Peter’s Cathedral, no longer used as a church. Stripped of its original trappings and completely bare, its 12th-century ‘‘beautiful bones’’ showed why art historians use it as a classic example of Romanesque architecture.
As part of Spain, Girona and the Costa Brava enjoy the warmth of the Spanish sun. But Catalonia’s special culture and history infuse the region with a unique sensibility. Whether you’re tasting wine, riding a bus, talking to a flower seller or joining a museum tour, Catalonian pride is palpable.
Chef Joan Roca, whose threestarred Michelin restaurant El Celler de Can Roca was this year ranked as the world’s No 2 restaurant (by Restaurant magazine, slipping back from No 1), and who brought me into his kitchen for a quick look, said
Old town: The city of Girona, the capital of Girona province in Spain’s Catalonia, a place rich with medieval history.
Art house: The Dali Theatre Museum, in Figueres, is part of the so-called ‘‘Dali Triangle’’ of Costa Brava, three of the most important locations associated with Salvador Dali.