Homage to Ca

In Spain’s Cat­alo­nia, Anne Cooke finds a place of mem­o­rable cul­ture, cuisi

The Press - Escape - - SPAIN -

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.

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