It’s been a while since I’ve talked about places you can visit around Spain.
For one thing, because travel’s been mostly prohibited or impossible for over a year now.
But I came back from a recent jaunt to Madrid with a goal of seeing more of what Catalonia has to offer. My first stop, yesterday, was Vilafranca de Penedès, in Catalan wine country.
Just an hour’s train ride from Barcelona, Vilafranca is (as the name implies) in the heart of the Penedès wine-growing region. In the area you can find lots of wineries, for example, the bodega owned by Familia Torres, which makes the popular Sangre del Toro wine (among many others).
If Cava is more your thing, you can head to the Freixenet winery in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, just a couple of stops before Vilafranca. They have a yearly cava festival, which rumor has it is off the hook!
But I didn’t do any of that. I just wanted to get some nature, and I was pleased to find that the town of Vilafranca has a little trail they call “Carretera del Vino” which goes through the vineyards.
It’s not particularly well-marked in town, but you can start at the train station and head left. Just tell Google maps to take you to Torre de l’Aigua de la Bleda, and it’ll show you the route.
I’m not sure if Carretera del Vino is usually this quiet, but I had a nice walk through the fields – basically the only one out there – and ended with lunch at a nearby restaurant, Cal Cassoles. It was a pretty easy walk of about 8 kilometers round trip.
How to get to Vilafranca de Penedès
Take Rodalies line R4 right to the town center. You can get on in Arc de Triomf, Plaza Catalonia or Estación de Sants, whichever works for you.
Round trip will cost you about 11 euros, and there’s a train about every half hour.
Check out the Rodalies website for more info.
Another point of interest, if you’re into that sort of thing, is the wine museum, Vinseum, right across from the Basilica. It’s apparently got quite a lot of history, from ancient Roman wine-making to the present day.
Beyond that, there’s not much to see out there in Vilafranca. I assume there are more good restaurants, because Spanish food tends to be pretty great.
But except for wine culture, there’s not much going on in that area.
Anyway, soon I’ll have more places you can go as day trips (or maybe weekend trips) around Catalonia. I guess there’s probably quite a bit more out there, in the “comarcas”.
Have a good one,
P.S. Other places around Spain that I like a lot: Cercedilla (to cool off outside Madrid in summer), Cuenca for some excellent geography, architecture and food, Ávila out there in Castilla for steak and stuff, and el Puerto de Santa Maria for lots of reasons. Just hope it’s not too windy when you’re there. What’s your favorite place to visit?
P.P.S. When I used to be a serious travel writer, they’d make me use all kinds of over-the-top adjectives to describe my experiences in different places. So I guess I could tell you that the roast chicken at Cal Cassoles was “delectable” and that the quality of dental care that some of the locals apparently grew up with was “severely lacking”. However, the town was “quaint” and the train ride was “convenient”. So I recommend Vilafranca de Penedès to everyone. Enjoy!
P.P.P.S. I’ve got a new article you might like, with a video about how to order wine in Spain. There’s a lot of wine vocab you might need to know if you’re around for more than a couple of days. Cheers!