Reminders of another world — A week in Barberà de la Conca

A guest post by Ailish Maher

Not too long ago I spent a week in Barberà de la Conca, daily walking out with the 2 dogs I was “sitting” for the owner. And so, each day I took the steps up under Les Voltes, paused to admire the view up the Promasó to the Templars’ Castle, then wound down the street to where I could take the steps down to what seemed to me (for a village) to be an enormous “park”, right in the heart of Barberà, untutored, unmanicured – rewilded you could say!

Down that slope we went at a leisurely pace, me and the 2 beagles, enjoying the warmth of the winter sun, the fresh air, and the dew-laden grass. We then exited onto a street leading to the village “safareig” (laundry area), sheltered by a weeping willow – not glorying in all its summer tresses, but revealing its underlying winter architecture of bowed branches. Carrying on, between high walls reminiscent of secret gardens, we turned to the right and greeted the donkeys, tempting them with apples or carrots. We then meandered along a narrow road, wide open to the sky and horizon, past a small wine cellar on the right, with its wine garden of barrels and tables. There, more than once I’d shared a bottle of Trepat with friends old and new, while enjoying unobstructed views of Barberà, with its distinctive evening silhouette of a water tower to the left, soaring Gothic church spire in its centre, and Templars’ Castle and defensive tower to the right. Meandering further along that same road, we passed, on the left, the odd Mediterranean pine and a series of sandstone-warm old stone farmhouses, most renovated to their former glory, others with promising piles of the same sandstone-warm stones neatly stored close by.

The way back took us up a road between ploughed-up vineyards, entering the village on the side offering views of the Modernist Wine Cooperative with its imposing spire, and beyond that, a downward sweep of fields and vineyards to distant mountains. The last stage of our walk took us through small oddly shaped and serendipitous squares, furnished with plants, seating, swings for children, etc, all evidence of a sense of neighbourliness and community. No traffic, just the odd few parked cars, and no crowds, just a few friendly “bon dias” … reminders of a different world.

A high point of my stay was that the walls of the house I stayed in displayed numerous works of art by Enric Adserà i Riba, who has acquired considerable fame in Holland (works of his are on display in the Templars’ Castle and the Wine Cooperative). I was impressed by the sheer diversity of his techniques, ranging from simple pen drawings and portraits of his children, grandchildren, and dogs to large elaborate pieces combining wood and metal. Thanks to Astrid for the stay, the mustard, and the book 😊.

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