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Bages getaway: All the secrets of a Designation of Origin

We recommend a trip centred around the world of vineyards, wine and wineries

© Albert Miró / Diputació de Barcelona

The Pla de Bages Denomination of Origin (D.O.) wins over fans every day. On this 48-hour getaway you'll discover who and what are behind this D.O., get to know the region's vineyards, its wineries, and the people that make it all possible. And the last day is saved for a stroll through the monumental Manresa.

Day 1: The first cava cooperative

Day 1: The first cava cooperative

The first part of the visit is located in Artés, to the far east of the Pla de Bages (Bages plain), and more specifically to the Municipal Wine Cooperative. The first cava cooperative in Spain began here 108 years ago. In those days, cava producers probably called it 'champagne'. Today, this sparkling wine still makes up the largest part of the winery's business, producing 100,000 bottles of the brands Artium and Lluís Guitart every year.

To get yourself on a guided tour of the winery it's probably best if you reserve in advance. You'll be taken on a journey through the place's century-old history, during which you'll learn about how they make wine and cava, and complete your tour with a tasting of the co-op's most representative wines.

Day 2: Vineyard huts

Day 2: Vineyard huts

As you visit various wineries on this visit, you'll soon realise that each has its own peculiarities and charms. Yesterday you learned about a historic one, and today you'll discover another, which, among many of its fascinating features, includes well-preserved vineyard 'huts', stone constructions that bear witness to the passion for the vine in this region goes much further back than you could imagine. In fact, you may not know this, but the name 'Bages' comes from the word 'Baco', the Roman god of wine. So, in the morning, we recommend you visit the winery Abadal in Santa Maria d'Horta d'Avinyó, which is immersed in a captivating landscape. As well as delving into the winery, you'll also visit the Museum of Wine, a farmhouse from the 12th century and the famous vineyard huts. At the end, you'll get to go on another tasting.

In the afternoon, head to the Mas de Sant Iscle, within the municipality of Sant Fruitós de Bages. Here, in the heart of the Pla de Bages, they've been making wine since the beginning of the 19th century, focusing mainly on the Picapoll grape, an autochthonous variety, as well as on the recovery of the Picapoll Negre (black Picapoll). The proximity between the farmhouse and the vineyards – documented since the year 950 – means that the visit always starts on the land, and, depending on the time of year, you'll learn about different wine growing and farming tasks. After that, enter the winery, and, once again, it's time to taste some wines. Also note that during the year they hold jazz and classical music concerts and also serve meals.

Day 3: The capital's historic town centre

Day 3: The capital's historic town centre

You can visit Manresa from many different angles: from the point of view of the modernista buildings, or by following Saint Ignatius of Loyola's footsteps, or even discovering its parks. It's all worth doing! Today, however, we recommend you take a trip around the historic city centre held within its old medieval walls, and since you have all day, perhaps explore a bit further.

We suggest you pay special attention to places such as the Plaça Major, the Plana d'Olm, Carrer Sant Miquel and Carrer Botí. Carrer del Balç also deserves a special mention, as it conserves the same structure as 700 years ago, when the city was one of the most prominent in the Crown of Aragon and received with full honours all the monarchs who passed through it. Pay a visit to the Study Centre on the same street, which, using the most advanced technology, will tell you all about medieval Manresa, retold by Peter the Great (Peter III of Aragon) himself!

Finally, you'll come across the Basilica of Saint Mary (or La Seu), a spectacular Gothic building at the top of Puigcardener hill, the perfect end to your stay in Bages.

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Tesi

Although Santpedor is nowhere near the coast, Tesi offers good, well-cooked fish dishes, ranging from seafood soups to monkfish with aubergine puree and sweet tomato. There’s also plenty here for meat eaters: duck breast, shoulder of lamb, wild boar... it all depends on what’s in season. This restaurant gives you good value for money with a good level of expertise in the kitchen.

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Can Ladis

If you closed your eyes while eating you could easily imagine you were in a restaurant on the seafront, but no, you're in Sant Fruitós del Bages, in Can Ladis, a restaurant that focuses on fish and seafood, and where you can enjoy dishes like sautéed squid, monkfish with clams, paella and fish stews. So, if you’re in the Bages region and you love seafood, come to Can Ladis.

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Can Miliu

They may have just celebrated 40 years in the business, but at Can Miliu they're enjoying their work as much as they did the first day, with friendly service and great Catalan dishes using locally sourced products. This restaurant has it all, with rooms for celebrations, business lunches and a terrace that's popular with smokers and with all diners when the weather's good.

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Ospi

At the head of Ospi is Oscar Piedra – hence the name of the restaurant. Piedra is an experienced, award-winning chef who offers two types of culinary experiences: miniature cuisine, served in the bar-café on the one hand, and high-quality dishes based on market cuisine but with signature touches on the other. Also on offer are fixed-price menus, a catering service, and facilities for special celebrations.

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Raviolo

As the name of this restaurant suggests, here you can eat pasta and pizza. But much more besides. Raviolo serves excellent dishes of black rice, cod and duck as well as seasonal produce and top-quality pasta made daily in their own workshop in the centre of the capital of Bages.

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La Tina de Betlem

Where you stay now when you go to La Tina is where they used to store the wine ages ago, but don't worry, it doesn't smell like a wine cellar anymore. What you will get is an excellent country farmhouse where you can enjoy magnificent countryside and where you'll find a swimming pool, a barbecue, a terrace and a garden. Inside you won't want for much either, and next door is a farmhouse with a farm. The accommodation sleeps up to six, and it is rented out as a whole, plus small pets are welcome.

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Cal Jan Bastardas

The country farmhouse Cal Jan Bastardas dates back to the 18th century and offers magnificent panoramic views of Montserrat mountain. Outside there's a garden, a swimming pool and a terrace, while inside you'll find four bedrooms, a fireplace, and everything you need to spend a few restful days without having to move from the site if you don't want to. However, if you do want to go out and grab some supplies, a few metres away there's a house where they sell organic products and offer food services.

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Ca l’Antonieta

This house is in the greater metropolitan area of Talamanca and sleeps eight to ten guests. The house is divided into to floors: the ground floor is where you'll find the dining room, kitchen, a bathroom, the terrace, two double bedrooms and a single bedroom; upstairs there's a loft-type space with a dining area, kitchen, one double bedroom, a sofabed and a bathroom.

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Càmping Emili Freixa

This campsite is the closest one to the capital of Bages, so it's a good place as a base for visiting Manresa and many other places of interest that are quite nearby. The name of the campground pays tribute to one of the founding members of the Caravaners Union of Catalonia, the organisation that manages the site. Here you'll find open spaces, a sports complex, a swimming pool, a social area, kids' park and more.

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Hotel Els Noguers

This city hotel is located close to the entertainment centre of Manresa. Though it doesn't boast great luxuries, it's got all the comforts you need whether you're visiting for business or pleasure. If you are in town for business, know that there are plenty of convention and meeting rooms available as well. Bedrooms are well equipped and the restaurant is decent, with Catalan and market cuisine. For the last quarter of a century, visitors to the capital of Bages have found the doors open at Hotel Els Noguers.

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Kursaal – Espai d’arts escèniques Manresa

The Scenic Arts Centre in Manresa has a busy schedule that includes performances in various genres, as well as education in the scenic arts and a bar-restaurant. It’s set in a noucentista-style building from the 1920s that was closed in 1980 and reopened in 2007 as a theatre and concert hall. The main hall has seating for 8,000 spectators, while the smaller one seats 200. It's managed by the Galliner association and attracts some 75,000 spectators every year.

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Casa Museu Rafael Casanova

The hero of the great Catalan defeat of 1714, head councillor Rafael Casanova, was born in this house to a rich family in 1660 and it's changed very little since then. The house already existed in the 16th century, but the Casanova family bought and renovated it in the 17th century. Look out for the Gothic window and the 18th-century Ester Cycle paintings. It also houses an exhibition on Casanova's historical period, the town, his life and his ancestry, as well as the municipal archives and the Moia county museum. The centre belongs to the Museu d’Història de Catalunya network.

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Món Sant Benet

The cultural and recreational complex run by the Fundació Catalunya – La Pedrera near Manresa invites you to savour it slowly: the Romanesque monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the Alicia Foundation, the ecological market gardens, the hotel with three restaurants, one with a Michelin star, and spaces for events and meetings. In brief: art, cuisine and nature for all ages, tastes, and budget, tied up together in a beautiful ribbon since 2007.

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GeoParc de la Catalunya Central

Something new and difficult to explain. Abstract, but palpable. And very expanisve: it covers a whole region. But what on earth is a geopark? It's a geological and mining park, an outdoor museum that covers almost all the municipalities in Bages, as well as Collbató (Baix Llobregat Nord), with five information points and nine centres: the Salpetre caves, the Toll caves, Montserrat, Sant Llorenç, La Culla, Súria, the Valentí Masachs Geology Museum, Sallent and Cardona. It's covered by two routes: from Moià to Cardona and from Moià to Collbató.

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Cardona Castle

This is the last bit of the Principality that succumbed to the Bourbons in 1714. A refuge for the viscounts, earls, and dukes of Cardona for seven centuries – kings uncrowned by the 'white gold' (salt), the castle is an imposing place with two great treasures: the divine Romanesque collegiate church of Sant Vicenç and the Minyona tower. A Gothic cloister was added, as were 17th-century bulwarks. The castle also boasts an inn, recently made into a museum, all of which make up the monument that is the History Museum of Catalonia, with all that entails.

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Montserrat Museum

This museum never takes a day off. It shows the cream of the crop of the abbey’s heritage, gathered from the Napoleonic devastation. The museum opened in 1963, but its contents date back to 1911, with objects from the monk Bonaventura Ubach’s expedition to the Middle East. The modernista rooms from Puig i Cadalfalch feature, over two floors, both old and contemporary paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, Byzantine icons, jewellery, archaeological pieces from the biblical world, and Nigra Sum, about the adventures of the Virgin of Montserrat.

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