Winter getaway to Maresme
Where gastronomy, art and sport come together
Winters tend to be mild in Maresme, so we are going to propose a couple of routes that wind among the pine and Mediterranean oak trees that cover its mountains and hills. But most of the routes we recommend will be centred on the city of Mataró. And those with a sweet tooth are in for a treat, since we'll begin our tour stopping off at the local cake shops to taste some of the region's specialities such as Coca de Llavaneres and wafer-like neules.
Afternoon day 1: Cakes and rumba in Mataró
One striking feature of the region is the series of gastronomic events that are held throughout the year. And its proximity to the Mediterranean and the backdrop of its mountains allows the Maresme to enjoy a seemingly infinite number of locally-sourced products from both the sea and the land. But in the unlikely event that your visit does not coincide with one of these gastronomic events, you can always try one of the region's pastries, which can be found at any of the many cake shops in Mataró and all over the region. As well as the well-known Coca de Llavaneres, you could try Laietanes biscuits, the neules made by Casa Graupera, Coquetes d'Arenys, or the more commercially-oriented Estrelles de La Riera, created recently to cash in on a popular TV series but which are not bad at all.
Between bite and bite, you may notice that on some of the city walls there hangs a picture with a lady's face worthy of a Picasso painting. The lady in question is popularly known as the Queen of Maresme. It is fun to find these paintings, but even more so when you search the web for the Reina del Maresme and you hear the rumba song that could be heard everywhere in the city last summer. Mataró is one of the cradles of Catalan rumba and its rhythms seem to infect the streets, even in winter.
Morning day 2: Head for the hills
As we said, Maresme is a seaside region but one with mountains. And if we want to lose some of the weight we gained eating cakes yesterday, we'd better do some exercise. They'll make it easy for us at the Bosc Vertical, an adventure park located on the road to Canyamars with ziplines, bridges, lianas, nets, snowboards... everything that kids and adults need to have a great time following the numerous circuits that wind among the tall trees.
As we are sure you'll have some spare time in the morning, and it's worth getting to know better the countryside of Maresme, we recommend you one of the many possible routes of the Parc del Montnegre i el Corredor. There are plenty to choose from, of varying lengths and difficulty. You'll probably be surprised how many things you come across on your walk: megalithic tombs, Romanesque churches, Iberian sites, fortified farmhouses ...All of these demonstrate that this is a region open to the sea but that also has an influential mountain area, that has been inhabited since ancient times.
Afternoon day 2: Gaudí and contemporary art
This afternoon we'd like to take you on a visit to a building designed by Antoni Gaudí that many may not know about. It is one of his first architectural works, in which he developed the arches that he went on to use so successfully in his more emblematic constructions in Barcelona. So let's head back to Mataró, to what is now known as the Nau Gaudí, which was originally a warehouse of the Sociedad Cooperativa la Obrera Mataronense and was used for blanching cotton. This year it is precisely 130 years old. The visit is worthwhile for another reason, since it is also where the publicist Lluís Bassat has displayed his contemporary art collection since 2010. Due to its size, the collection is being shown, bit by bit, in the form of temporary exhibitions. At the moment, you will find works from the 1970s by artists like Perecoll, Víctor Mira, Jaume Genovart, Rafael Bartolozzi and Joan Pere Viladecans.
Morning day 3: guided and self-guided tours
If you have stayed in Mataró overnight, you can explore it further using the wide selection of available routes and visits. Many of these itineraries can be done with a guide, but you also have the option of asking for a self-guided device from the tourist information office in the town hall. It's available in English, French, Russian, Spanish and Catalan and is free of charge. If you choose the heritage route you'll see a lot of moderniste style buildings, thanks mainly to one of the city's most illustrious sons, architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, but you'll also traces of the Roman city of Iluro, Baroque streets and neoclassical constructions. If you choose the shopping route you'll get to know the history of the city's markets and its most emblematic establishments, as well as the main shopping streets.
But you may prefer to leave the city behind and seek out a different type of landscape. So, let's explore the landscapes of Vallalta. Like in Mataró, we could find a programmed itinerary, or strike out on our own. The route we have chosen starts from the Font Montnegre housing development in Sant Iscle de Vallalta and passes by Casa Nova de Maspons, the Vives oak plantation, Cal Paraire and Can Vives de la Cortada before coming back to Casa Nova de Maspons once again. It's an easy route that should last around four hours and that will take you through thick woodland and allow you to see the different farmhouses that dot the western slopes of the Montnegre massif.
Afternoon day 3: a golf couse with views
On our last afternoon we'd like to invite you to relax while playing golf. If you've never tried before the Maresme is a great place to start. If you're habitual players you'll find in Sant Andreu de Llavaneres a club with tradition and history and, above all, an 18-hole course that offers fantastic views of the Mediterranean and the Serralada Litoral mountain range. But don't let the landscape interfere with your golfing skills, it's a game that requires concentration. If you have enough times you can play all 18 holes, but if you're running late a good option is to head for the practice tees, where you can get some tips from the club's professionals. When you're finished, just return the clubs to the reception office and head home leaving behind a region that you'll surely be looking forward to visiting again in the future.
Where to stay and where to eat
Cultural venues in Maresme
Set in the centrally located Plaça de l'Església, this museum has an excellent collection of pitchers, some of which are very original and funny. The collection is the result of the donations and acquisitions made since 1975. The explanations on the history and manufacturing process of these objects make for an educational experience that’s suitable for all ages. The museum also stages major temporary exhibitions.
- Plaça de l'Església, 9, 08310
Essayist, poet and writer Josep Palau i Fabre maintained a close friendship with Pablo Ruiz Picasso. His Foundation in Caldes d’Estrac contains work by Picasso from his private collection as well as works by other artists like Miro and Gargallo. Aside from the permanent exhibitions, the centre has rooms for temporary exhibits and hosts many other activities throughout the year, such as the Festival Poesia i +, roundtables, conferences and workshops.
- C/ Riera, 54, 08393
Lluís Domènech i Montaner is one of the most important names in the history of Catalan modernism and he left behind a rich legacy, both in architectural and personal terms, in his home town of Canet de Mar. The museum that bears his name is made up of two buildings: Masia Rocosa and Casa Domènech. The first building was his workshop and offers insights into his professional life; while the second is a building he designed for his family and offers a more personal vision of the man. The museum also has spaces for a permanent exhibition on the history of the town and for temporary exhibitions.
- Xamfrà rieres Buscarons i Gavarra, 08360
In Arenys de Mar lace-making has a long history. So a Lace Museum makes perfect sense here. The Marès Museum has several valuable collections, starting with that of Frederic Marès, who acquired pieces from the Marquis de Valverde, among others. Other highlights include the collection that once belonged to the dancer Carmen Tórtola Valencia, who designed her own costumes, the Castells collection, with laces, patterns and frames from one of the lace manufacturers in Arenys.
- Església, 43, 08350
The building that houses the Museum-Archive has a number of different sections, but the Gallart Gallery on the first floor is a real stand-out. It contains more than 200 works, mostly figurative oil paintings and drawings by local artist Lluís Gallart i Garcia which are exposed on a rotating basis. But since you’re here, you should also go up to the second floor and visit the modernista-style Barri pharmacy. The other exhibition spaces in this multi-disciplinary museum are given over to dresses and embroidery.
- Escoles Pies, 36, 08370
Set in a renaissance-style building in Plaça de l'Ajuntament, the first floor of the museum is reserved for temporary exhibitions. The first and second floors take you on a chronological trip through the history of Mataró from the Roman era to the present, with special attention given to the industrial development of the city as a textile manufacturing centre. The museum has other sections in a number of building around the town, such as Ca l'Arenas (C/ Argentona 64), which hosts an art collection.
- El Carreró, 17, 08301