Sunday, 28 June 2009

Penedès News in English

Local news from Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and the rest of the Gran Penedès.

Gran Penedès

L’Extra – the only news paper which consequently presents the Penedès area as a totality, is making a come-back. Calaix de Sastre, however, will disappear as a separate publication and instead be integrated as event and leisure sections of l’Extra.

Some 200 people turned up at an end-of-semester gathering which the Centre de Normalització Lingüística recently held at the historic monument of Olèrdola. During the education year 2008-09, in total 2.617 adults from Alt Penedès and Garraf have taken part in the Catalan courses. (Xtra)


The comarca Garraf registers a reduction of the unemployment rate. From a familiy income perspective, the change only influences 58 people, but it represents a break after 20 months with a negative trend. Sadly enough, the whole improvement can be explained through the jobs created by the government’s financial boost plan (“Pla E” or “pla Zapatero”) and temporary contracts for the summer tourism season. (DdV)

The celebrations of the Nit de Sant Joan were relatively calm. The hospital group of Garraf reported only light burns from firecrackers and 12 cases of alcohol intoxication. However, from midnight and onwards at least the police of Vilanova was constantly busy. One person attacked with a knife was the most serious case of violence, but there was a lot of vandalism, eg. burning waste containers. (DdV)

Tuesday 24, Renfe’s rodalies again challenged the patience of the passengers on line C2-South - connecting Garraf to Barcelona. Due to technical problems, a train stopped near the tunnels between Sitges and Vilanova and those on it had to wait for 1 hour and 40 minutes – without information - before they could continue their journey. (DdV)

Six beaches in SitgesSant Sebastià, Balmins, Les Botigues de Sitges, Garraf, la Ribera and la Barra – have obtained ISO 14001 certificates for 2009 in recognition of their cleanliness and life guard services. (DdV)

Avui fa un dia Sitges’ - or 'Today is a Sitges Day, in English - is the new tourism slogan of Sitges. It has been created by the company Imagina and is a continuation of earlier ones like “Sitges això és vida” (‘Sitges, this is life’) and “Sitges joia de la Meditànnia” (‘Sitges, the gem of the Mediterranean’). The slogan will be used in a € 80.000 advertising campaign in July, sponsored by Martini (Bacardi Group) and targeting the population of Barcelona. Other initatives will promote Sitges in Bilbao, Zaragoza and Madrid. (DdV)

This summer there will be three computer based information kiosks in Sitges, located at the passeig de la Ribera, la Fragata and the train station. Tourists will be able to print out city maps and find information in Catalan, Spanish, English and French. (DdV)

The PSC government of Sitges would want to reinsate Montserrat Arnau as director of the local Tourism Promotion Agency. She stepped down in April, after the CiU opposition revealed that she did not meet the formal profile of the position. (DdV)

New measurements of the radiation caused by mobile phone antennas in Sant Pere de Ribes and Roquetes prove that levels in the whole inhabited area are 20 to 50 times below the limits set by the Generalitat. Mayor Josep Antoni Blanco indicates that if people continue to talk about health problems, the real issue is a lack of trust in local authorities. (DdV)

The two sides of the river Foix in Cubelles have been united through a new bridge. The construction plans, first made in 2005, were repeatedly delayed and revised since the area is protected for ecologic reasons. (DdV)

The scaffolding which for more than four years has covered a part of the town hall (ajuntament) of Vilanova i la Geltrú has been removed, but the façade renovation work will last until November 2009 and there is not a timeframe for when the building behind will be finalized. (DdV)

Vilanova has introduced a program called La ciutat t’acull ("the town welcomes you") for newcomers; foreigners as well as Spanish nationals. A week ago, at the first session, Mayor Joan Ignasi Elena gave his personal welcome to some 60 participants. (DdV)

Alt Penedès

July 2-3, Vilafranca del Penedès will house a conference called Rutes del Vi ("Wine Routes") in connection with the ViJazz Wine and Jass festival. With the participation of wine chef Joan Roca and speakers from Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, and Portugal, the aim is to consolidate the town as an international wine and cava meeting point. (Xtra)

Last week, the plans of the Cultural Centre of Caixa Penedès – one of Catalonia’s biggest savings banks, with its head office in Vilafranca – were presented. In 2011, it will be opened in C/ Princesa, Barcelona, and it will have a permanent exhibition by artist Josep Maria Subirachs, an exhibition area and an auditorium for 200 people. (Xtra)

With the clogan 'Puja Finet!' – which I would translate as “Climb light” - the Castellers de Vilafranca have started a campaign to win new human towers team members among the secondary school youth. (Xtra)

From July 1, the language institution Servei de Català of Vilafranca and the rest of Alt Penedès will move to a new address: C/ Pere el Gran, 32, 1st floor. (PD)

For the education year 2009-10, a new municipal school of music will open in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, after a fusion of the two current private ones, Escola de Música de la Llar and Racó de la Música. (PD)

This summer, Gelida will see its population grow with 24 children from Belorussia, aged 7-17 years. They will stay for 40 days, the time needed to clean their bodies from the radioactive radiation they are constantly exposed to at home since the 1986 catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear plant (Ukraine). (3d8)

Baix Penedès

In Calafell’s efforts to develop from a mass to quality tourism destination, it has decided to meet the regulations for family friendly tourism destinations (destinació de turisme familiar) set up by the Turisme de Catalunya. The 2009 target for 25% of private hotels and restaurants to be individually certified has been met and the local authorities will provide a kindergarten service on the beach, another one of the requirements. (PD)

A team (colla) of young people in Albinyana, have created and baptized a new fire spitting monster (bèstia). Its name is Nyctalus Alinyanensis and it has found its inspiration in the bats of the cave Vallmajor. (Xtra)

The parties PSC and PP of Cunit have decided to, in 2010, sell municipal property (patrimoni) to a value of € 2,29 millions in order to cut the local budget deficit. The move has been criticized by the ICV opposition. (Xtra)

Spanish Industry Minister Miguel Sebastián has promised to scrutinize Enagas’ work to double the gaz pipeline between Barcelona and Valencia. Farmers along the route from l’Arboç to Barcelona have complained about the impact it has on the irrigation and drainage of their fields. (PD)


June 19, at the age of 89, Barcelona born aid worker Vincenç Ferrer passed away in Anantapur, India. Ràdio Igualada and Conca TV were present at the funeral and, as a part of their support for charity work, they will make programs about how the Vicente Ferrer Foundation over 40 years have built 5 hospitals, thousands of schools and medical centres plus some 26.000 houses. (Xtra)

Construction works are being carried out day and night to prevent landslides at a slope near Montaneu. Until the end of July, Lledia bound traffic on A2 - the main highway between Barcelona and Madrid – has to make a detour in this area. (AD)

On Thursday June 25, many parts of the comarca Anoia were surprised by a spectacular hail storm. In Igualada, the biggest hails stones had a diameter of 3 cm. (VD)

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Penedès News in English is a subjective compilation of local news, aimed above all for the expats living in this part of Catalonia but, possibly, interesting also for tourists. The main sources of information are L’Extra (Xtra) (pdf), Vilanova Digital (VD), Sitgesblog (SB), El 3 de Vuit (3d8), Penedès Digital (PD), AnoiaDiari·cat (AD), La Veu Digital (VD) plus the print version of Diari de Vilanova (DdV). All opinions expressed are my own.

A brief on the political party system of Catalonia can be found here.

Earlier editions can be found under the label Penedès News.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Calafell, Castellers, Català, Catalan, Catalonia, Catalunya, CiU, Cunit, Expat, Garraf, Human Towers, Igualada, Penedès, PSC, Sant Sadurní, Sitges, Spain, Vilafranca, Vilanova, Zapatero

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Symbolic Flame of Canigó

Yesterday, the whole of what many call the Catalan Countries (els països Catalans) celebrated the eve of St John the Baptist (la nit de Sant Joan) with firecrackers and fireworks but, above all, innumerable bonfires. Many of these were lit up by fire literally brought down from the Canigó.

The official English name of the mountain is Canigou, since from a state border perspective it is located in France. However, this part of the Pyrenees used to be Catalan speaking and forms part of Northern Catalonia (Catalunya del Nord). Since the 19th century Renaixança (re-birth) movement, the area has been considered the birth place of the Catalan nation. Among other things, this is where we find the monastery Saint-Martin-du-Canigou (Sant Martí del Canigó) founded by Wilfred II of Cerdanya (Guifré II de Cerdanya), a 10th century count who created links between his lands and Berga, Besalú and Barcelona.

The mountain in itself - located only 50 kilometers from the coast - is symbolic. It presents a sharp flank towards the plains of Roselló which historically made people consider it the highest peak of the Pyrenees (it ‘only’ measures 2.784 m compared with the 3.404 of Pic d’Aneto). In spite of its dramatic look, the Canigó can be accessed by hiking, which explains how, once a year, as many as 30.000 bonfires around the Catalan Countries can originate from here.

To Vilanova i la Geltrú - more precisely to the neighbourhood (barri) named Sant Joan - the fire was brought by a four man committee which, the night before, had lit up their oil lamps with on the bonfire burning at the peak of Canigó. The Falcons and Bordegassos (castellers) of Vilanova celebrated its arrival with human towers and speeches were made by Mayor Joan Ignasi Elena and a representative of the movement Desperta! (Wake Up!). In the latter one, we learnt about the symbolic value of this flame - in Vilanova lighting up a sculpture resembling the map of the Països Catalans – and were reminded to continue our defense of the Catalan language and work to re-unite what is today known as Catalonia, Andorra, the Balearic Islands, the Valencian Community (país Valèncià) and Northern Catalonia.

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Main source: Wikipedia in Catalan.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Castellers, Catalonia, Human Towers, Penedès, Vilanova,

Monday, 22 June 2009

Penedès News in English

Local news from Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and the rest of the Gran Penedès.

Gran Penedès

With in total 200 participants, the Penedesfera Days celebrated in Sant Salvador of El Vendrell June 12-13 was a great success. Microblogging posts related to the meeting (#Penedesfera) occasionally came so frequently that they could be seen on - an international list of the most popular Twitter topics.


The road C-31 will see restrictions in the nighttime traffic since road works will be made between Cubelles and Sant Pere de Ribes.

Of the drivers tested in a major alcohol control carried out by the police (Mossos d’Esquadra) in Sitges on June 14, 26% were fined for drunk driving and of these 10% reached criminal levels of alcohol in the blood.

Josep Maria Jornet – famous for his black and white photos of Sitges festivities, but also of landscapes from around the whole world – has passed away at the age of 88 years.

The future of Varo, S.A., in Sant Pere de Ribes is so uncertain that the public authorities will step in and seize assets in order to pay the employees who are still on the payroll, in case the company continues to fail to pay out indemnification to the employees made redundant last year.

Restaurant owners along the beach walk of Cubelles are protesting against how life guard cabins have been put up in such a way that they disturb the sea view and therefore damage business.

Vilanova i la Geltrú is one of the official water sports resorts (estació nàutica) of Catalonia. While the others (l’Estartit and the Medes islands, Palamós and Calogne, Santa Susanna, Costa Daurada and Sant Carles de la Ràpita and the Ebro Delta) offer one-stop-shop web pages for potential tourists, the Vilanova initiative stands out for not even having a co-ordinator, and this in the town which houses the new Vilanova Grand Marina – Barcelona.

Due to the remodelling of Vilanova’s Rambla de la Pau, the little tourist train which goes through the town in the summer will have a new route. It will start at the street Pere Jacas, and make stops in the centre at C/ Unió, C/ Santa Eulàlia, the Rambla Principal, avinguda Francesc Macià, and C/ Josep Coroleu before heading down to the beach Ribes Roges and the Passeig Marítim.

Alt Penedès

The Festa Major of Vilafranca is among the most important cultural treasures of Catalonia and Andorra, according to the organization the Capital of Catalan Culture. The Patum of Berga qualified automatically, since it has been declared immaterial cultural heritage by UNESCO. The other celebrations which were voted into the top-10 of the list are the Day of Sant Jordi, the Sardana, human towers (castellers), the Sant Joan bonfires and the flame from Canigó, the Catholic passion plays, devils’ dance and correfoc, the havaneres of Calella de Palafrugell and the 'Mysterious Light' of Manresa.

La Colla del Mar - a famous band of gralla musicians which have played at all Festa Majors of Vilafranca for the last 29 years - has decided not to continue their activities together.

The construction work of the women’s prison to be built in Sant Llorenç d’Hortons will only be initiated in 2010, since the Zapatero government of Spain and the Catalan Generalitat have not yet agreed on its financing.

The ajuntament of Sant Llorenç protests against how the quart cinturó – a new outer Barcelona ringroad – as of the so called Metropolitan Territory Plan would cut this municipality into two halves.

Baix Penedès

A Calafell inhabitant has been released with charges while 14 other members of an international criminal organization have been imprisoned. The investigations have connected the group to counterfeiting and money laundry as well as trying to smuggle cocaine to Spain by hiding it inside frozen fish from Uruguay.

The only elephant of the animal park Aqualeón at Albinyana, Yoyo, will move to the zoo of Barcelona, where a fellow African elephant - Susi - needs company to get over a depression. Yoyo has lived at Aqualeón for 30 years - after having been rescued from a circus - and to make him feel welcome in Barcelona, the space reserved for elephants has been doubled.


For the strong support among the local inhabitants, the Generalitat has decided that Catalonia’s corporate airport will be developed at the Igualada-Òdena aerodrome, currently used for sports aviation and fire fighting. The operation of the airport might be contracted to a private company. With a public investment of € 90 million, the plan is that by the end of 2012, it will be able to match Farborough of London or Le Bourget of Paris.

The political parties CiU, PP and ERC of Igualada have voted for the municipality to belong to the Penedès, when the vegueria reform is carried out. The Platform for a Separate Vegueria tried to unite all party groups behind a project in favour of following the comarques Alt Penedès and Garraf, whether they in the future will belong to the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona or the Penedès. Such a decision would have been a clear signal that Anoia does not want to be in the Central Vegueria, as of current plans, but it was not taken since PSC and ICV ruling Igualada did not support it.

A large number of mayors of Anoia municipalities have made a joint inquiry to the Generalitat, to learn what will be the role of the comarca after the vegueria reform and which decentralized services could be allocated to Igualada.

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Other media do not seem to want to comment on it, but as far as I can see the news service l’Extra and the event magazine El Calaix de Sastre – both aiming to cover the whole of the Gran Penedès – have ceased to exist.

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Penedès News in English is a subjective compilation of local news, above all aimed for expats living in this part of Catalonia but, possibly, also interesting for tourists. My main sources of information are Vilanova Digital, Sitgesblog, El 3 de Vuit, Penedès Digital, AnoiaDiari·cat, La Veu Digital plus the print versions of the Diari de Vilanova. All opinions expressed are my own.

A brief on the political party system of Catalonia can be found here.

Earlier editions can be found under the label Penedès News.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Calafell, Castellers, Catalonia, CiU, Expat, Festa Major, Garraf, Human Towers, Igualada, Penedès, Penedesfera, PSC, Sitges, Spain, el Vendrell, Vilafranca, Vilanova, Zapatero

Friday, 19 June 2009

On the Penedesfera Days 2009, in English

June 12-13, a large number of bloggers from the Penedès area went to Sant Salvador – a beach resort in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) – and the 2nd Pendesfera Days (jornades de la Penedesfera). With over 500 member blogs, the Penedesfera is the biggest geographically defined network of its kind in Catalonia. If last year’s event in Gelida served as a first physical meeting point between its members then, this time, the modern auditorium within the classic Vil·la Casals transmitted that we have become an established phenomenon.

With a reference to the location, Penedesfera founder Daniel García Peris opened the session by quoting Pau Casals. In 1971, when the composer of the “Hymn to the United Nations” received the UN’s peace medal, he took the opportunity to address the assembly as an ambassador of the Catalan people. I am confident that Casals - a native of the Penedès - would consider the Penedesfera a good 21st century manifestation of his culture.

The jornades de la Penedesfera is built up by panel discussions and, this year, the first one was on “How Modern Communication Tools Transform Politics”, organized and moderated by Gemma Urgell and Ricard Espelt. Here, Izakun Bilbao, Ex-President of the Basque Parliament, won the admiration of the audience for how her party PNV has made it easier for people to reach their politicians. Ernest Benach, President of the Catalan Parliament, did his best to show that he and his colleagues are equally sophisticated, but somehow did not manage to convince me. Possibly, I know Catalan politics a bit too well to be fooled by a nice presentation.

The other part of the Friday program was “To Be Present on the Internet you First Have to Get There”, where Raül Buira moderated in a group of telecommunication experts. Their discussion did not reach far before the audience entered into a “Spain and Catalonia bashing mode”. Now, that was expected: why, after all, are broadband connections here more expensive and still slower than in most other EU countries?

Saturday morning started with the serious question about “The Present and Future of Mass Media”. Sergi Sabaté moderated in a group of people who did not only have things to say, but also knew how to make a point. Salvador Cot (the Terrassa and Sabadell editions of Avui) and Joan Raventós (el 3 de Vuit of Vilafranca) represented traditional media working to build a future on the web, while Carles Castro (Vilanova Digital) and Bernat Ferrer ( represented the many modern news services which do not offer a print version. Finally, Xavier Güell from proudly presented his media channel; highly popular but not employing one single person with a formal title in journalism. And that must have been where an old-school journalist in the audience could not take it any longer but had to protest. However, after having defended the investigating version of his profession, he added that bloggers tend to intrude into “his territory” and rapidly turned all other participants against him.

After this followed a session on how to make use of “the Internet, Against the Crisis”, of which I plan to see the video recording, since I unfortunately had to leave for some hours. For the same reason, I missed the “Penedès inspired lunch” – a true pity for the wonderful garden where it was served.

I came back just in time for Sonia Diaz Suriol’s and Sylvie Pérez’ workshop on “Videoblogs and Other 2.0 Tools”. Some day I will have to look into the quality of my own clips on YouTube, and then the activities of Jesus Ferre, Ravennius and ZitunLog can serve as models.

The next part - “MySpace and Other Tools to Spread Music”, organised by Josep Guillén and Guillem Carol – came to focus on a question similar to the one about mass media, i.e. what incentives are there for quality work and effort when people expect everything to be free. The musicians present - Lax’n Busto ('Començar' etc) and Búhos – did not seem to worry very much. The Búhos gave examples of how their Barça song about Messi, thanks to the Internet, had made them famous in Argentina and concluded that what is suffering from current changes is the old music industry, not music as a cultural expression.

The last item of the program about “Wine and Cava: Challenges on the Internet” was the first event which the team “Cava&Twitts” organized outside the metropolitan area of Barcelona. Here, the cool “London, Berlin, New York, El Penedès, Shanghai” t-shirts which they had printed for the occasion, initially distracted the audience from being critical, but soon it found an excuse for self-flagellation, which resulted in comments like “why are we Catalans so poor in promoting our wines and the other good things we produce?”.

The Búhos rounded off the Second Penedesfera Days with a spontaneously created song. To sum up, I think that this event served as a status report on where Catalan society stands and although many participants of this meeting think that we have a lot to work on, it is a fact that on the Internet, the use of Catalan is much more vital than that of many much bigger languages.

From a more personal point of view, this was when I finally saw the benefits of becoming a Twitter user. A screen in the auditorium showed a real-time summary of the latest up-dates and that created a meta-discussion - sometimes a comment on something said by the participants of the different panels, but just as often a publicly displayed reaction on an earlier comments. Take a look at #penedesfera and you will see what I mean.

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To my wife, who is afraid that I put blogging ahead of business: Yes, I did a lot of active guerrilla marketing. Everyone present at Vil·la Casals received samples of my products and that, in turn, resulted in an article in Finally, the news that RFSU is the first commercial brand which labels its condoms in Catalan has reached beyond the Penedès.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Catalan, Catalonia, Penedès, Penedesfera, Spain,el Vendrell, Vilanova

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Exceptional Corpus with the Giants of Vilanova

On the Sunday after Corpus Christi we usually go to Sitges to admire the artistically decorated streets, but this year we could enjoy elaborated flower carpets (catifes de flors) at home. The accounts of Vilanova’s Sant Antoni Abat church reveal that, in 1709, the parish paid for a new coat of paint for the giants, in order to make them look nice for the corpus procession. To celebrate the 300th anniversary of that first written record of our local giants, the geganters of our days had decided to recreate the event.

In the morning, associations related to popular culture made pictures of the giants in the squares of historic Vilanova. The huge one on the plaça de les Cols was designed by Òscar Estruga – the artist behind the emblematic sculpture Pasífae on the beach Ribes Roges – and stood out for its warm colours. However, like all the others it was destroyed in the early evening when the tall Gegant de la Porra and his equally tall wife - Geganta Grossa - followed by la Boja – the town’s biggest mulassa – performed a dances on top of it.

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This summer, la Sala will house a retrospective Òscar Estruga exhibition and, early August, during Vilanova’s festa major, old giants from all around Catalonia will come here for the baixada dels gegants.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Festa Major, Vilanova

Penedès Stick Dancers in a Get-Together at les Roquetes

As a geographical continuation of Vilanova i la Geltrú – but administratively belonging to Sant Pere de Ribes - we find les Roquetes de Garraf. This year, the local agrupació de balls populars celebrates its 35th anniversary; quite an achievement since it was started from scratch. From a Catalan perspective, les Roquetes is a society of newcomers; people from Andalucía and other parts of Spain who moved here looking for jobs around Barcelona. That is what Josep Guillén (representant del Penedès de la Coordinadora de Ball de Bastons) had in mind when he proposed that, on June 6, the first trobada bastonera of our part of Catalonia was to be celebrated here.

The get-together started with two cercaviles (performance parades) through the centre, followed by joint dance performances of the so called pavana and boja at the square la Vinya d’en Petaca. After that the bastoners of les Roquetes had invited all the 250 participants to an anniversary dinner.

The bastoners of Igualada made their first public appearances on this occasion and fascinated the audience with music played on a violin instead of traditional gralles. With 9 colles (teams) from Garraf, 5 from Alt Penedès, and 2 each from Baix Penedès and Anoia, respectively, (plus one from Castelldefels) the event served as a non-political reminder of the unity of what might one day become the Vegueria Penedès.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Garraf, Igualada, Independence, Penedès, Spain, Vilanova

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Penedès News in English

Local news from Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and the rest of the Gran Penedès.

Gran Penedès

A majority of the electorate in the Penedès area did not bother to vote in the elections to the European parliament and in general people here have voted in line with the rest of Catalonia; leaving PSC in the position as the strongest party but revealing an increased support for CiU. Find here the municipal results for Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Vilafranca del Penedès, El Vendrell, Calafell and Igualada, respectively. The PSC of Garraf/Alt Penedès partly blames the low voter turnout on the fact that prime minister Zapatero still does not comply with the autonomy charter of Catalonia (l'estatut) – an initiative supported by his own PSOE government – neither by presenting a new model for tax revenue allocation between the autonomous regions of Spain (nou finançament autonòmic) nor by handing over agreed competencies from the state to the regional level.

The Denominació d’Origen Penedès will further develop into a quality label by raising the test requirements and fees for its members. The general rule will be that a winery can not belong to D.O. Penedès and D.O. Cava at the same time and that lower quality wines will have to make do with the label D.O. Catalonia.


A survey carried out by the Cambra de Barcelona has revealed that Garraf lags behind in standard of living, partially because this comarca, during the years 2004-08, has lead the population growth of Catalonia (average annual increases of 3,6%, followed by Alt Penedès at 3,4%). Garraf is well behind the average figures of Barcelona as well as the rest of Catalonia when you look at the number of education and geriatric centres or hospital beds per capita.

The ajuntament of Sitges has carried out substantial investments in pump stations in order to improve the drainage and prevent the bad smell of residual water. At the same time, the capacity of the underground rainwater channels has been increased, which will reduce the amount of water in the streets d’Espalter and Espanya during coming torrential rains.

Actress Anna Barrachina will present Sitges as her favourite place in the June 16 program of “El millor paisatge de Catalunya” on TV3.

Through the Pacte per la mobilitat, Jordi Baijet, PSC mayor of Sitges, plans to open a dialogue on public transport, traffic safety and parking areas. Starting in September, the ajuntament will invite the local population to round table discussions.

Luis Enriquez, a Swiss-born businessman with Spanish parents, will set up an association of companies which promote Sitges to homosexual and transsexual tourists, work to bring back gay floats to the carnival procession and, in 2010, launch a Pride Sitges festival. This year, Sitges will be represented with a stand at l’aviguda de Maria Cristina during Pride Barcelona.
An entity promoting the heritage of Sitges will re-launch annual issues of the magazine L’Amic de les Arts, historically headed by local author Josep Carbonell and with famous contributors such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Frederico García Lorca. The aim of the magazine will be to explore Sitges’ heritage and its role in the cultural life of modern Catalonia.

The company Varo, S.A. of Sant Pere de Ribes risks to face a seizure of assets since it has not paid the € 1,4 million of indemnification which it owes to 43 employees laid off last year. The company has filed for bankruptcy and claims to have problems to pay salaries to the 60 people still on its payroll, but the trade unions protest that the management could improve cash flow by selling unused parts of the premises.

It has been discovered that two fires which, in May, broke out in a home for elderly people in Cubelles were caused on purpose by a new co-worker of the establishment.

After 14 days on strike, the workers of Prysmian in Vilanova i la Geltrú have gone back to work. While 228 of them voted to do so, 200 wanted to continue the strike. The conflict has resulted in a bitter situation where the president of the work council, Cristòfol Fabre of the trade union CCOO has decided to step down since he felt that one of the other unions (UGT) got cold feet after the management’s warnings that they would take legal action against any leader who supported the strike.

Naturists living around Vilanova will not any longer have to go to Barcelona for indoor swimming. Starting on June 28, the municipal pool will reserve a time slot for those who prefer to swim naked.

The local police of Vilanova has been reinforced with eleven employees, in order to stop the sales of fake branded goods (top manta).

Alt Penedès

After a meeting in Madrid, CiU mayor Pere Regull is quite confident that Vilafranca del Penedès will reach and agreement with ADIF (l’Administrador d’Infrastuctures Ferroviàries) on compensation to repair cracks in house walls and reduce noise levels. ADIF claims that the vibrations caused by the high-speed train AVE’s passage through the town centre are within acceptable standards, but has agreed to finance a noise reduction wall in the areas Poble Nou and la Girada, where it is not.

Sunday June 14, in Cornellà (Baix Llobregat), the Castellers of Vilafranca presented the best human towers so far this year, completing a ‘4 by 8 dismantled via a pillar (4 de 8 amb l’agulla)’ and a ‘pillar’ of six levels.

Baix Penedès

The consell comarcal has created a new logotype for Baix Penedès – a map built up by grape coloured circles, underlining the location along the coast.

The railway infrastructure administrator ADIF is currently replacing some 6.000 cross beams between Calafell and Sant Vicenç de Calders, as a part of the project to improve the standards of Rodalies (the commuter trains) of Barcelona.

A noise reduction barrier will be erected where the toll motorway AP-7 makes its passage over the area Barri d’en Mas d’en Gual (El Vendrell).

The secondary school l’Institut de Segur (Calafell) which until now has been in provisional premises, will in 2010 receive its own building in C/Brasil.


The official cadastre values of real estate in Vilanova del Camí and Ódena will be revised since they have been discovered to be far higher than those of neighbouring Igualada, due to the fact that the latest revision was made in 2007, at the peak of the property boom. The cadastre values influence property taxes and, possibly, the private income tax of the owner. However, a coming reduction will not result in dramatic tax cuts since the increase from 2007 has not yet been passed on fully.

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Penedès News in English is a subjective compilation of local news, above all aimed for the expats living in this part of Catalonia but, possibly, also interesting for tourists. My main sources of information are Vilanova Digital, Sitgesblog, Penedès Digital, AnoiaDiari·cat, the pdf-version of l’Extra plus the print versions of the Diari de Vilanova and 7 Dies. All opinions expressed are my own.

A brief on the political party system of Catalonia can be found here.

Earlier editions can be found under the label Penedès News.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Calafell, Castellers, Catalonia, CiU, Estatut, Expat, Garraf, Human Towers, Igualada, Penedès, PSC, PSOE, Sitges, el Vendrell, Vilafranca, Vilanova, Zapatero

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Penedès News in English

Local news from Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and the rest of the Gran Penedès.

Gran Penedès

Penedesfera – the blogger network of the Penedès region– recently listed its 500th member blog and is nowadays the biggest network of its kind in Catalonia.

The print newspapers of the Penedès see falling revenues from advertising but some of them can at least celebrate that their number of readers are growing. El Diari de Vilanova is Catalonia’s biggest weekly newspaper in Catalan (45.000 readers/week) and Tres de Vuit of Vilafranca is number two (31.000 readers/week).

ADEG – the Penedès business association (Associació d’Empresaris del Garraf i el Penedès) - has created a new section for young entrepreneurs. Joves d’Empresa is its name and since it has been born in times of crisis it will focus on so called 'Low Cost Networking'.

Some 3.000 people whose special needs renders them the right to assistance at home will receive a better service. The Diputació de Barcelona has decided to allocate one support car to Vilafranca, from where it will cover the comarques Alt Penedès and Garraf.


The Metropolitan area of Barcelona investigates building a major waste incinerator at Vallcarca. The Ajuntament of Sitges disagrees with these plans, not only since they come as a surprise, but also because of the consequences they would have on the natural reserve Parc del Garraf.

To guarantee the future of the two big social clubs of Sitges - la Societat Recreativa El Retiro and el Casino Prado - the Ajuntament has decided to grant them direct financial support of € 10.000 plus (a lot more) for the cultural activities they carry out.

The ecologic supermarket chain Veritas has opened up a branch at the Passeig de Vilafranca of Sitges.

The forum Cercle d’Economia (the Circle of Economy) will keeps its annual meetings in Sitges for at least another three years. This years’ edition could present José Montilla, President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, among the speakers.

During weekends and holidays from May 30 until September 11, Renfe will increase the number of trains to the beach destinations Garraf and Platja de Castelldefels. During peak hours there will be one connection every 30 minutes.

The hospital Sant Camil of Sant Pere de Ribes has started the construction works of a new parking area for 400 cars. During the summer the same hospital will temporarily close two of its floors, but that will not have unforeseen effects on service levels since the number of programmed interventions always go down during the vacation period.

During the celebrations of FC Barcelona’s victory of the Champion’s League, 28-year old Óscar Alpuente from Cubelles was hit by a rubber bullet, which caused serious damage to one of his eyes. His relatives’ claim that the police shot from a too short distance and above the waistline contradicts the findings of the investigation by the Generalitat de Catalunya, which concluded that the police acted as of protocol.

The Ajuntament of Vilanova i la Geltrú takes the help school pupils in the fight against the mosquit tigre (‘tigre mosquito’). Avoiding accumulations of standing water in balconies and gardens has proved a successful way to limit the spread of its eggs.

Vilanova does from now on have a 24 hour taxi service (telephone: 93 893 32 41).

Vilanova currently promotes Attic’09 – the International Fair of New Ideas and Inventions – at the shopping centre l’Illa in Barcelona through a machine which promises to deliver “ideas which make you smile” to anyone who inserts € 0,50.

The Vilanova based company Megarubber, which let 51 of its workers leave permanently as late as February this year, has presented a temporary work stop affecting 127 workers during 120 days.

The situation at the Vilanova company Prysmian, which last week learnt that the Generalitat would not approve its plans for a work force reduction (ERO), has responded by firing 19 employees without negotiations, although that means that they will have to pay them a full indemnification. The trade unions, in return, claim that this is illegal and workers on strike are therefore blocking all entrances to the company.

Alt Penedès

The wine Sant Valentí by wine producer Miguel Torres of Vilafranca del Penedès can again be sold in Norway. With sales of 200.000 bottles per year, this is one of the most popular white wines in that country, but the sales of it was recently stopped after one person was seriously sick after drinking it. However, Norwegian police has been able to confirm that the wine was poisoned and is confident to have found the perpetrator.

After a meeting with ADIF, the two socialist members of the parliament of Catalonia Daniel Fernández and Sixte Moral, claim that the company responsible for railway infrastructure will repair all cracks which the construction of a railway tunnel under the town might have caused in Vilafranca.

Sociologist Llorenç Casanova (29) has accepted the duty to be the second local councillor of the political party CUP in Vilafranca. He replaces Otger Amatller who has stepped down for family reasons.

Baix Penedès

Starting in September, the renovation works of the theatre in El Vendrell, la Lira vendrellenca, will enter into into their final phase.

The Ajuntament of Calafell will allow the Generalitat to use two antennas – one located on the mountain Bellamar and the other one in the centre of Segur de Calafell – in order to improve the mobile phone and digital TV coverage.


The Catalan minister of internal affairs (Conseller d’Interior) Joan Saura (ICV-EUiA) has officially declared the extended firestation of Igualada open. Just in time for the peak season of forest fires, eight new fire trucks have been added.

The public healthcare of Igualada takes part in a pilot project with electronic prescriptions, in which patients do not have to bring signed paper copies to the pharmacy since all authorizations are available on-line.

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Penedès News in English is a compilation of local news, above all aimed for the expats living in this region but, possibly, also interesting for tourists. My main sources of information are Vilanova Digital, Sitgesblog, Penedès Digital, the pdf-version of l’Extra plus the print versions of the Diari de Vilanova. All opinions expressed are my own.

Earlier editions can be found under the label Penedès News.

An introduction into the political party system of Catalonia can be found here.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Barça, Calafell, Catalonia, Expat, Garraf, Igualada, Penedès, Penedesfera, PSC, Sant Sadurní, Sitges, el Vendrell, Vilafranca, Vilanova

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The 'Wirdheim in Vilanova' Event Calendar - July 2009

July, 3-5; Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf): La Medusa organises the music festival Faraday on the platja del Far. Among the bands which will play we find The Divine Comedy, The Lucksmiths, Joe Crepúsculo and New Raemon. On July 5, the concerts will be on the beach and for free.

July, 3-5; Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès): Vijazz – Catalonia’s main wine and jazz festival.

July, 10; Cunit (Baix Penedès): Festa Major de Sant Cristófol

July 10; Vilanova i la Geltrú; Sardana dancing at the Ermita de Sant Cristòfol, behind the Platja de Far. 19:00-21:00

July, 11-12; La Granada (Alt Penedès); Festa Major - most likely with a high profile castellers meeting.

July, 14; Sitges (Garraf): A day of Dance (Dies de Dansa): 19:00-21:30 at la Fragata.

July, 17-19; Vilanova i la Geltrú; FIMPT – the International Folk and Traditional Music Festival (Festival internacional de música popular i tradicional) - with Diego el Cigala and Omara Portuondo among the most famous artists.

July, 17-24; Cubelles (Garraf): Festival de Música de Cubelles. A music festival, organized for the first time, targeting children, young people and their families.

July, 25-28; El Vendrell (Baix Penedès): Festa Major Santa Anna 2009; N.B: in the city, not at the beaches. Find here a glossary to typical festa major related words in Catalan. Look out for this: Saturday July 25: Fireworks at 23:00. Sunday July 26: At 11:00, Catalan folkdances at the Plaça Vella followed by a parade (cercavila) through the town. At 13:30, Castells (human towers) at the Plaça Vella, organized by the Nens del Vendrell. At 21:15, A typically Catalan Fire Parade (Cercavila de Foc) with loads of firespitting monsters, among them Caramot - one of the biggest dragons in Europe. The parade ends with a carretillada - all teams performing at the same time! Monday July 27: At 18:00, Catalan Folkdances (balls populars) at the Plaça Nova followed by a parade through the town. Tuesday July 28: At 19:00, havaneres songs followed by a glass of burnt rum at the Rambla. At 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00: Ball de Malcasats at three different locations.

July 25-31; The Festa Major Petita of Cubelles. Find here a pdf-version of the program, complete with maps, and here a glossary to typical festa major related words in Catalan. I would recommend the following: Saturday July 25: At 21:45, a firerun (correfoc) with devils and monsters. Put on old clothes and cover your hair in case you want to feel the real spirit. Sunday July 26: At 18:00, a giant procession through the town and at 22:30, havaneres at the plaça del Centre Social. Thursday July 30: At 20:30, a drummers parade (batucada) through the town.

July 25; A competition between tradtional fishing boats (llaguts) from Vilanova, Calafell and Torredembarra; at 11:00 in front of the marine sports rental service (Estació Nàutica) on the beach Ribes Roges.

July, 26; Vilafranca del Penedès: ‘Vilafranca and the Wine Spirit’ – a guided tour (assumedly in Catalan) to places related to the wine industry.

July, 26; Vilanova i la Geltrú: At 19:00, Castells (human towers) by the Bordegassos at the Rambla Principal. At 21:00, havaneres at the Plaça de les Neus.

July, 29 - August, 6; Festa Major of Vilanova i la Geltrú. The main part of the program will be presented in the August edition of the event calendar, but here are my recommendations for July: Wednesday July, 29: At 20:00 a huge Catalan flag (la senyera) will be hung from the Sant Antoni Abat church bell tower - much more exciting than it sounds. At 22:00 there will be a concert of havaneres, finished with a glass of burnt rum at the Plaça del Port. Thursday July, 30: From 17:00 to 21:00, a kite flying exhibition on the beach Ribes Roges. From 22:15, the local castellers els Bordegassos will practise (assaig) in their premises in the Plaça de les Casernes. Friday July, 31: From 11:00 to 13:00, a chance to climb up the church bell tower of Sant Antoni Abat and see the town from above. At 19:00 in the Plaça Mediterrània, there will be a concert for children by the musicians from Catalan TV3's Club Súper 3. From 20:00 to 22:00, there will be a balloon festival on the beach Ribes Roges. From 22:00 and onwards, the most emblematic July event of Vilanova's Festa Major: the Correfoc - devils and firesipitting dragons dancing through the streets, from the Plaça de les Neus to the Plaça de la Vila. In case you plan to participate, make sure to put on old clothes and cover your hair.


'El laberint i la vida'; exhibition by Òscar Estruga at LaSala.

'Giants from Museums' at the Victor Balaguer Museum, Vilanova i la Geltrú. The Vilanova giants celebrate their 300th anniversary – this exhibition shows other old Catalan giants. From July 18 to August 1.

'Photos of the Giants of Vilanova' at the Sala Toc (C/ Caputxins), Vilanova i la Geltrú. From July 25 to August 9.

General information:

The event calendar is a presentation of events where I will go - or at least hope to be able to go - centered around Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf) and the rest of the Penedès area in Catalonia. If you are interested in a certain date, please, send me a question in a comment or, alternatively, come back to this entry. It will be up-dated whenever I learn about new things and here information about what will happen tends to come late.

Wirdheim in Vilanova will to the greatest extent possible refer to official pages (usually in Catalan) for information on the time and location of events and can unfortunately not guarantee to present the latest up-dates or changes of program.

For castellers (human tower) performances outside the Penedès area, please, refer to the tag Agenda Castellera at the Coordinadora de les Colles Castelleres de Catalunya, or the Calendari at

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Garraf, Penedès, el Vendrell, Vilanova

Monday, 1 June 2009

Circus Festival Trapezi Vilanova 2009

The budget for the circus festival Trapezi/Vilanova’09 was € 119.000 compared to € 147.000 last year and I think that was a sensible cut. Although I hope that, in the future, this town will be able to recuperate its full historic circus profile, I accept that this year of crisis and rising unemployment figures is not the time to do so.

And in spite of the cost savings, I enjoyed Trapezi as much as ever and consider myself very fortunate to – totally by chance – have moved to a town where once a year I can see quality circus in the streets of the town. So far, I have not seen any visitor statistics, but from my own observations I would say that there were more spectators this year than in 2008. Can it be that, when money is tight, we are all more inclined to choose entertainment which is ‘for free’?

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Find here a an entry on the background of Trapezi, in Reus and in Vilanova i la Geltrú.

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Technorati tags: Catalonia, Circus, Vilanova