It was the poet and journalist Ferran Agulló when living in the seaside town of Blanes who dubbed the coastline of rugged granite cliffs dotted with century plants and twisted pines against the backdrop of a sapphire blue Mediterranean Sea with the moniker, Costa Brava, which in English translates as ’wild coast’.
Selva Marítima is the area in the south of the Costa Brava, overshadowed by the Ardenya – or Cadiretes – massif, and including the towns of Blanes, Lloret de Mar, Tossa de Mar and Vidreres. It is a rocky landscape that boasts unique beauty spots, as well as a coastline of wide sandy beaches and hidden coves, something that has turned it into one of Catalonia’s most attractive destinations for foreign tourists.
The ’fab four’
The four towns mentioned above are at the centre of current efforts to make the area an official county, and each of them offers different qualities. Tossa de Mar, with its old quarter known as the Vila Vella, is a place full of history, traditionally a magnet for artists, and a genuine cultural centre. Lloret de Mar grew out of a small fishing village to become a major international beach resort. In contrast, Blanes, “the gateway to the Costa Brava” has reinvented itself as a centre of the service sector, while Vidreres, beneath the shadow of the Sant Iscle castle, has not stopped growing in recent years.
The Selva Marítima area may not be extensive in size, but it does offer the visitor a wide variety of coves typical of the Costa Brava , such as Cala Pola, Santa Cristina, Sa Boadella, Cala Morisca and Sant Francesc. It also has large sandy beaches, such as the Albanell or Fenals beaches. There are also lovely gardens, such as the one that Raül de Roviralta had made for his wife in Lloret’s Santa Clotilde, while Blanes can offer the visitor the Pinya de Rosa botanical gardens, where visitors will find one of the most important cactus collections in Europe.
Meanwhile, standing above Tossa’s Vila Vella, looking out across the intense blue of the Mediterranean Sea, is Ava Gardner, waiting for her flying Dutchman while guarding Pandora’s secrets. The statue of the Hollywood film star overlooking Tossa’s main beach was erected in honour of Gardner’s performance in the 1951 film, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, which was almost entirely shot in Tossa.
Up to Sant Iscle castle
It’s only a few kilometres from Vidreres to Sant Iscle castle. Those doing the walk can park at the sports centre, go up Migjorn street, cross over the motorway bridge and follow the path to Can Massa, Vidreres’ horse riding centre. From here the path rises through woodland to the castle that has been declared a cultural asset of national interest.