La Selva is part of the rebellious Catalonia (Catalunya) and it’s one of the greenest areas in Spain. No wonder it has ‘forest’ in its name! I’d like to draw your attention to this special region, which is rarely visited by travellers. And if you’re after an authentic Catalan experience, La Selva should be among your first places to go!
There’s so much to see and do, so rent a car (a must) and just go! Fly into Girona or Barcelona and you’ll find yourself only an hour away from the real La Selva.
If you want to have more of a general idea what to do in La Selva to enjoy Spain off the beaten path, not exclusive to food and history, see my other post on La Selva.
Let’s have a look at some activities in La Selva that entail eating and learning about history, something for both the stomach and the brain 🙂
La Cuina a Sils – a cooking cooperative
The more local, the better! I had the pleasure to meet the sweet ladies of La Cuina a Sils in Hostalric, where they cooked for us and showed us how to make some local specialties. I tell you, it’s pretty complicated and time-consuming!
So what did we eat, you ask?
- Meatballs with catfish
- Traditional rice with pork and sausages
- Sweet apple-flavored ‘bunyols’
All cooked with care and love, like if we were their grandchildren 🙂 Kerwin of Cruisinaltitude.com loved it and helped grandma Ascensión fry the little bunyols to perfection.
This cooperative project has evolved into regular meet ups for locals to cook and chat. What a wonderful pastime, especially as a lot of these women’s children have long since flown from the nest and they don’t get to cook as often as they’d like to.
The ladies (and gentlemen, too!) usually meet in Sils, but they are willing to travel around the region to cook delicacies for visitors to La Selva. And there are a few among them who even speak English, like Roser, the one I had the pleasure of meeting.
These lovely ladies have even published cookbooks to help keep traditional recipes alive. If you speak Catalan, you should definitely get one 🙂
The region of Catalunya, and the La Selva part, is also a home to Ratafia – a very popular liquor made of herbs, fruits and nuts. Just try to pronounce it – Rrratafia! (yes, the ‘r’ has to roll)
In the city of Santa Coloma de Farners, they have yearly contests in which anyone can submit their own version of Ratafia and try to win a prize. Needless to say, it’s usually locals who win, despite occasional submissions from abroad 🙂
The locals are crazy about their Ratafia! They really hold it dear to their hearts. You can find all sorts of pastry made from Ratafia – Ratafia ice cream (with Ratafia topping, if possible), Ratafia cake, Ratafia everything…!
Oh and how does it taste? Imagine a distant relative of Jägermeister 🙂 Each version of Ratafia is slightly different, though. So if you feel like trying some, you should sample at least a few different kinds.
We were served delicious food at the restaurant of Hotel Pinxo in Santa Coloma de Farners. The meals were simple – a salad, foie gras, meat and fries, and then the legendary ‘cherry on the cake’ – Ratafia ice cream. It was delicious! I ate too much and then found it difficult to enjoy walking around the town!
Searching further for awesome places to eat, you shouldn’t ignore Can Mariano restaurant in Breda. The food they make there is so flavorful. I tasted varied things like all possible tapas, yummy meatballs, filled pasta, desserts – Crema Catalana, Ratafia cake… Sorry, I need to stop writing about it right now, I’m almost drooling on my keyboard!
If you find yourself in the area of Sant Hilari Sacalm, make sure to have some tapas at El Racó d’en Serrallonga – it’s right in the city center, next to the tourist office. Some artisan jamón will do you good (unless you’re vegetarian 😉 )
The tapas taste the best after a workout on burricletas (electric bikes)! But you need to pedal a little and not just rely on the electric power all the time 😀
Beer & Wine of La Selva
La Selva is a home to many notable craft beers. I tasted Montseny craft beer – it was really good! Apparently, they use pure water from Montseny mountain range, which makes for a unique quality and taste. Even though I’m Czech, I’m no expert, I can just tell you I liked the beer! 🙂
For an expert opinion on the beer, wine, and food, you can head to my friends Erin and Brett of Our Tasty Travels who were on the trip with me.
Castles, ruins and history
An 18th century military fortress overlooks Hostalric, which is a nice little town right in the middle between Girona and Barcelona. It sits on top of a hill and provides for great views, therefore photos!
Being on the main route between Girona and Barcelona, the town was often invaded and suffered greatly as a result. It had a significant importance as the capital of Cabrera in the medieval times, as well as one of the last places in Spain occupied by France.
For those of you that love history, read Hostalric history on the official tourism site. I hardly can portray it any better!
For history fans, La Selva is a really rich region to visit. Take, for example, the Castle Montsoriu, or El Castell de Montsoriu, as its full Catalan name stands.
Montsoriu is considered the most important Gothic castle of all Catalonia! Its medieval Mediterranean architecture from the 14th century looks really special and the local restoration committee has done a great job keeping the castle together and making it accessible to tourists.
The castle lies at the foot of Montseny National Park and the surroundings are incredibly beautiful. You can see forests on all sides as you look from the top tower and your guide will even show you a little hill where witches were kept.
You can visit the castle by booking a tour at the website of Montsoriu.
Roman bath in Caldes de Malavella
An impressive Roman bath can be observed in Caldes de Malavella. Unfortunately, at the time that I was visiting they were just in the process of restoring it, so there was scaffolding all over. It was, however, possible to see the whole layout and to learn some interesting facts about the particular rooms and how the whole bath complex worked.
When it comes to history and gastronomy, all the special things in La Selva are not very far from each other and most of them are in little cities or areas that are not so famous.
Disclosure: TravelGeekery participated in a sponsored trip to La Selva organized by La Selva Turisme. All opinions presented are Veronika’s own.
I made a map for you, so that you can get a better idea of where all these points lie and how to plan your trip!
Do you like to travel off the beaten path? Does La Selva sound enticing to you? Do you love history? I’d love to hear your comments!
For fellow Pinterest fans, here are a few pinnable pictures. You know you need to save this article for later! 🙂