A small sea­side town near Barcelona of­fers a sunny hol­i­day and much his­tory and art

Chic & Country - - Out & About -

Sit­ges is a coastal town, 40 kms from Barcelona. It is tucked be­tween the sea and the moun­tains of the Gar­raf Mas­sif, the main con­se­quence be­ing a very be­nign cli­mate with an av­er­age of 300 days of sun­shine a year. Sit­ges has been de­scribed as Spain’s St Tropez or as the Cannes of Cat­alo­nia, not only be­cause of its cli­mate but also be­cause it has be­come known world­wide as a con­se­quence of the Sit­ges In­ter­na­tional Fan­tas­tic Film Fes­ti­val.

One of Sit­ges’ most fash­ion­able ar­eas is the old town, which fea­tures Ibe­rian ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains, Ro­man and me­dieval art as well as mod­ernist art and build­ings. In the 1900s, Sit­ges be­came the home of the so called ‘In­di­anos’, em­i­grants who re­turned to Spain from Cuba hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated great wealth. They built sump­tu­ous man­sions along the sea promenade, which are still pri­vate res­i­dences to­day. The Church of Sant Bar­tomeu and Santa Te­cla is one of the most recog­nis­able places in the town. Rather less pi­ous, but as well known, is the

Bac­ardi house, now a mu­seum, the fa­mous rum dis­tillery owned by a Sit­ges na­tive. Down­town you will also find the won­der­ful Cau Fer­rat Mu­seum founded in 1893 by the artist San­ti­ago Rusiñol, where he estab­lished his house-work­shop. In­deed art is al­most syn­ony­mous with Sit­ges partly be­cause it be­came the home of the Amer­i­can in­dus­tri­al­ist, phi­lan­thropist and col­lec­tor Charles Deer­ing. Deer­ing dreamed of hav­ing a mu­seum in Spain which would be a a bea­con for artists from across the world, and in 1910 he had the Palau Mari­cel built with the help of the artist Miquel Utrillo. The build­ing was con­nected by a bridge across the lane to a sec­ond build­ing he pur­chased, which now houses the Museu Mari­cel. Al­though Deer­ing did not man­age to ex­e­cute much of his plan, and many of his paint­ings ul­ti­mately ended up in Chicago, his legacy does live on and Sit­ges now com­mands a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion for its art and many artists do ex­hibit in the town. The Stämpfli Foun­da­tion is cur­rently pre­sent­ing the fourth ex­hi­bi­tion of its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion of 90 works from more than 60 in­ter­na­tional artists.

(from above left) The Santa Te­cla Church at dusk; The mer­maid by the break wa­ters at dawn; The Me­dieval old town; the sea lit by the sun; the Palau Mari­cel; (next page) view of the old town and the San Se­bas­tian beach from the Aiguadolç Port.

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