With its narrow alleys, stone arches, ancient facades, nice balconies and old lamps, the medieval town of Pals is one of the treasures of the Costa Brava.
There’s more than just beaches to the Costa Brava. Pretty medieval towns, the Dalì Museums, delicious food and a wonderful vibe
Stretching from the French border towards Barcelona, the Costa Brava was developed in the 1950’s and promoted as a package holiday destination, mostly to tourists from Northern Europe, United Kingdom and France. Thanks to the good climate, nice beaches and great bargains due to a very favourable exchange rate (long before the introduction of Euro), the Costa Brava soon became very popular.
But the Costa Brava is more than just beaches. It’s the land of Salvador Dalì (don’t miss a visit to the Casa Museo Dalì in Port Lligat, the Dalì Museum in Figueres and pretty Cadaquès) and home of beautiful hamlets like Pals.
Perched atop a hill, Pals exercises an immediate fascination. The houses have been lovingly restored, everything is well-kept and the tiny cobblestone alleys invite to getting lost, letting the eyes wander around to catch the overall beauty first, and then linger on the details.
As I walked up the hill I saw an old local man heading down a narrow street, alone, holding to the rail in the middle since the descent is steep. No trace of tourists in that perfect moment. And a strong feeling of what local life looks like when the visitors leave.
There are many similar villages in Italy, especially in remote areas like the Molise and Basilicata regions. Some of them are home to only a few old local people, since the young ones left to settle in the city, study and hunt a job. Others come to life for a few hours during the day when a handful of tourists come by, and go back to their sleepy atmosphere before the sun sets.
In Pals, beauty is all in the stones. The cobbles of the alleys, the rocks forming arches, the irregular stones in which the houses are built.
The cathedral is beautiful in its simplicity: a bare façade, adorned by a carved entrance door. White sculptures standing out against the stone with its warm colour.
Further up the hill, I couldn’t help stopping every few steps to take one more photo, looking at the pretty and tasteful shops, until I reached the top and the medieval Romanesque tower, dating back to the 11th-13th Century.
From above I got a glimpse of the countryside , with the fields making green and yellow geometric patches, reminding how this is a rural area dotted with old farmhouses.
On the way back I took my time to look further at the details, trying to savour every corner of this little town and one of my favourite treasure of the Costa Brava.
How to get to Pals: the town is about 40 km (25 mi) from Girona and can be reached by car in 1 hour. Alternatively, buses operated by Sarfa connect Pals with Girona, Barcelona and other nearby towns.
Note: I was invited by the Costa Brava Pirineu de Girona Tourism Board to spend a few nights in a couple of hotels in the region, free to stroll around and explore on my own. As always, opinions and mine only.