Friday, September 21, 2012

We show off 'our' monastery

A day of very little wind and bright sunshine, perfect for a drive up to the old Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere de Rodas 520 metres above sea level. The views of the mountains, the Port below us and the lighthouse are stunning. It is one of those days with the incredible lighting that is often found here.

We have toured the monastery before. It is always interesting to visit this place of pilgrimage in the tenth century; having a guest in the house was all the excuse we needed to take another look. By the twelfth century the monastery was a centre of political, spiritual and economic power. By the fifteenth century the religious life was more lax and there were growing numbers of attacks by pirates. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century the financial situation improved  thanks to the expansion of wine growing in Catalunya. The area was surrounded by dry stone walled terraced vineyards, which survive today but the vines are long gone, overgrown by blackberries. The monks abandoned Sant Pere in 1825.

The restoration is very good and certainly gives the visitor glimpses into life in the monastery, the church; the cellar with larders as well as accommodations for servants and monks; the crypts and the square used for burials of important persons.

The monastery has a lovely restaurant with a stunning cliff top view over the mountains and sea. We had lovely melon with Serrano ham and a beautiful piece of hake fillet. All this with a very nice local rose wine and finished off with a lovely espresso.

Our day wasn't quite over. It was down to the beach at the Port for a lovely swim in calm water. Swimming in the sandy shallows right now is toasty warm. In fact the water was warmer than the air by the time we got out. But best of all is the lovely hot shower when you get home.

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