Catalonia looking forward

This month, on 9th November, six weeks after Scotland voted to remain a part of Great Britain, ‘a self-determination referendum’ was held in Catalonia. The citizen participation process on Catalonia’s political future was originally the ‘Catalan Independence Referendum’ but was rebranded as a ‘popular consultation’ after the original was suspended by the Constitutional Court of Spain. The Catalonians who voted, expressed by a whopping eighty/twenty percent majority their preference to be self-determining. This result did not surprise me one bit. Last year, I was caught up in a demonstration in Barcelona and no one could deny the massive turnout and the fervour.

Four weeks ago I was in Sitges with my husband as participants at a Mediterranean documentary film festival. We attend MEDIMED every year and make an outing of it, driving along the coast from our Olive Farm outside Cannes, crossing the border into Catalonia, through Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, and landing up for five days in the port city of Sitges. I have a very soft spot for this city with its beautiful Baroque cathedral where I attended the sung Saturday evening mass celebrated in the local Catalan tongue, which is a romance language and quite similar to our own Provençal. In Sitges, indeed all over Catalan, menus, road signs, notices are all written in Catalan and I have great fun trying to see how much I can decipher or link back to the Langue d’Oc.

Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla

The seventeenth-century cathedral Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla is perched on the Baluard headland and overlooks both the Mediterranean, the town, its esplanades and beaches. So identifiable is it, both from land and sea, that the locals refer to it as ‘La Punta’, the point. Even if attending a service is not of interest to you, the interior of the church has some splendid artwork and an organ dated 1699, movingly played on the night I attended mass.

Steps from the church stands the Palau Maricel where the doc film festival was held annually until last year. Since which time the building with its elegant white façade has been closed for renovations. The palace started life as …

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