I could see the question on the faces of the owners of Agroturisme Sant Dionis, a 700-year old farm that has been converted into a homestay in Catalonia, Spain as we sat down around a long table set up in their inner courtyard. How do you get a group of travel writers to put down their smart phones, cameras, and laptops?
From the edges of the patio they watched us with cocked heads, puzzling over our strange behavior. Moments later, the wife smiled knowingly and signaled for her family to begin serving. To the baskets of fresh-baked bread, whose yeasty fragrance was already suffusing the air, they added plates of meaty red tomatoes, glass carafes of oil so rich it sparkled green in the sunlight, and giant chunks of farm-fresh cheese. Fresh-squeezed orange juice, Spanish Jamon and homemade yogurt followed. Last but not least, the father set a flat-pan cake coated in powdered sugar in the center of the table with a flourish. Neus Vila i Figareda, the director of the Visitors Bureau for the Girona Region and our guide for the day, cut into the golden crust, explaining, “This is a specialty of the house. I asked her to make it for us today. It is delicious spread with their homemade marmalade.”
It is a well-known fact that the only way to separate travel writers from their electronic equipment is with food and this was a veritable feast! Tweeting stopped. Smart phones were laid aside. Facebook updates ceased and laptops were slammed shut. A few more cameras clicked but soon even they were silenced as we dove into the meal with gusto.
When the strong but delicious brewed coffee appeared I thought we were done but our hosts knew better. One of the younger male members of the family emerged from the kitchen carrying a glass carafe of wine. With a mischievous grin he raised the carafe and tilted his head back, allowing the burgundy colored liquid to stream into his open mouth. Higher and higher he stretched his arm, until it seemed the liquid sluicing from the carafe must splatter down the front of his shirt, but the arc of wine defied gravity and hit its mark with ease.
A couple of our group took the unspoken challenge and managed to hit their mouths without pouring half of the wine down their shirt fronts. Though not accomplished with the flamboyance demonstrated by the Catalonians, the effort was met with applause and accolades. We had passed the test. And yes, we had all picked up our cameras and smart phones by then, but we were focused on the event in front of us rather than the outside world.
When we were completely sated the family took us on a tour of their agricultural/livestock farm, demonstrating how they use age-old techniques to harvest and thresh beans and allowing us to pluck melons bursting with ripeness from their organic garden. Today, the farm produces only enough food for the family and guests of Agroturisme Sant Dionis, a 13th century farmstead which was destroyed by the French at the beginning of the 19th century and restored and opened to the public in 2002 as a country house lodge.
Located in the village of Campllong (Girona province), between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Costa Brava, Agroturisme Sant Dionis is surrounded by peaceful countryside that is perfect for long walks or bicycle rides to the nearby village. The house sleeps 15 people and offers three double bedrooms with bathrooms (one with handicap access) and three triple bedrooms with bathrooms. Breakfast and dinner are served and though guests are welcome to sample the local cuisine in the surrounding villages, take it from someone who’s personally sampled the goods – you’ll definitely want to have most of your meals at Agroturisme Sant Dionis.
My trip to Agroturisme Sant Dionis was hosted by Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona. However, the receipt and acceptance of complimentary items or services will never influence the content, topics, or posts in this blog. I write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you are planning a trip to the Catalonia Region of Spain, you can stay at Agroturisme Sant Dionis, which is a wonderful Bed and Breakfast as well, or arrange to dine there. For more information or to make reservations, contact the Girones Centre de Visitants (Gerona is the Catalan spelling of Girona) Avinguda de Franca, 221, Sarria de Ter, Girona 17840, Phone:972 011 669 (country code +34), Website with contact form: http://www.turismegirones.cat.