Thursday, 30 June 2011

Chorpus Christi and Sitges’ Love for Flowers

Among the more unusual things which people in Sitges (Garraf) claim to love dearly, we find carnations (clavells, in Catalan). These emotions take their expression in large amounts of this type of flower being spread out in the streets in colourful so called carpets (catifes de flors) in connection with Corpus Christi. This year, however, even this even this wealthy Catalan town had to cut back on its level of ambition, due to limitations in the budget.

The tradition has a long history linked to the church but has reached its current splendour after 1952 when the Sitges Tourism Agency started to promote it actively. Nowadays it is one of the folk festivities which attract the biggest number of non-local visitors.

The celebration ends with a procession which walks over - and thus destroys - the flower carpets until it reaches the altar standing in the middle of the decoration on Cap de Vila. The task to decorate this natural hub of the town is by tradition dedicated to a local organization which has achieved something special. In 2011 this honor went to the library Santiago Rusiñol, celebrating its 75th anniversary.

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Read more in Catalan:

SWE: Corpus Christi och Sitges kärlek till blommor

Bland de mer udda sakerna som invånarna i Sitges (Garraf) påstår sig älska dyrt finner vi nejlikor (clavells, på katalanska). Kärleken tar sitt uttryck i att stora mängder av denna blomstersort i samband med Corpus Christi (en katolks högtid som tydligen heter Kristi kropp och blod på svenska) läggs ut på stadens gator i färgsprakande s.k. mattor (catifes de flors). I år fick dock även denna välmående katalanska stad dra ner på ambitionsnivån, p.g.a. sparbeting.

Traditionen har en lång historia kopplad till den kyrkan men har nått sin nuvarande styrka efter år 1952Sitges turistbyrå börja marknadsföra den på allvar. Numera är det en av de folkfester i staden som lockar flest besökare utifrån.

Firandet avslutas med en procession som går över – och därmed förstör - mattorna tills den når det altar som står i mitten av dekorationen på Cap de Vila. Uppgiften att dekorera denna knytpunkt i staden tilldelas därför en lokal organisation som utmärker sig på något sätt. År 2011 gick denna ära till biblioteket Santiago Rusiñol, som i år firar 75-årsjubileum.

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Läs mer på katalanska:

Little to Be Happy About in Penedès Unemployment Statistics

A recently published report shows that the employment situation in the province of Barcelona is improving and that during 2010, Anoia was the comarca which saw the biggest reduction in the unemployment rate (-1,1%).

From a Penedès perspective there is still very little to celebrate, however. In spite of the improvement, Anoia still had the highest percentage of unemployed people (17%) while Garraf and Alt Penedès stood out as the only two comarques where situation still worsened during 2010.

So, what can I say? Well, at least we have really nice beaches.
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Read more in Catalan: Anoia Diari

Catalonia's First Forest Fires in Baix Penedès

The first two major fires in Catalonia this summer broke out in Baix Penedès – one burnt down forest covering 10 hectares in el Vendrell while while another outbreak caused the same result on 6 hectares in Calafell. Neither fire required for any people to be evacuated.

The sad truth is that almost all the forest fires we see here every summer could be avoided if we all used more seny, Catalan for common sense.

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Read more in Catalan:

August Disruptions on the Commuter Train Line R2 South

Between August 4 and 28, work to cover the tracks on the southern side of the train station Sants in Barcelona, will lead to disruptions on the line R2 Sud. During this period passengers from Garraf and Baix Penedès will only reach Bellvitge, from where they will have to continue by metro or FCG, using their Renfe ticket.

The month of August was selected since many commuters will have vacation. Let us just hope that there will be good information in English instructing tourists how to reach Sitges and other beaches along Costa de Barcelona – Penedès.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova

The Penedès Agenda - July 2011

This month the agenda consists of two parts; first Catalan Folk Culture and then Other Events.

Catalan Folk Culture (cultura popular) including Human Towers (castellers)

July 2, in Llorenç del Penedès (Baix Penedès) - the annual meeting of Catalan stick dancers - (XXXVI Trobada Nacional de Bastoners de Catalunya) - starting with a parade at 18:00, followed by performances and concerts. Read more in Catalan

July 3 at 19:00 in Calafell (Baix Penedès): Human Towers by Nens del Vendrell and Xicots de Vilafranca. Read more in Catalan

July 10 at 13:00 in the plaça de l’Om of Banyeres del Penedès (Baix Penedès. Human towers by Bordegassos de Vilanova, Nens del Vendrell and Minyons de l’Arboç. Read more in Catalan

July 10 at 12:00, in the plaça de Pius XII of Igualada (Anoia): Human towers by Moixiganguers d’Igualada, Castellers d'Esplugues and Margeners de Guissona. Read more in Catalan

July 16, in plaça de la Verema of Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès) – Festa Major del Barri de les Clotes: Human Towers by Xicots de Vilafranca and Minyons de l’Arboç. Read more in Catalan

July 16, in Santa Margarida i els Monjos (Alt Penedès) - Festa Major. At 19:00 the will be a dance parade (cercavila de balls populars) throughout the town where, as I understand it, the Falcons de Vilafranca will participate. Read more in Catalan.

July 17 in Carme (Anoia) - Festa Major: Human Towers by Moixiganguers d’Igualada and Castellers de Caldes. Read more in Catalan

July 23, at 19:00 in Sitges (Garraf): Human towers by Xicots de Vilafranca. Read more in Catalan

July 24 in the Rambla of Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf) - Festa Major de Centre Vila: Human Towers by Bordegassos de Vilanova and Tirallongues de Manresa. Read more in Catalan

July 25-28, Festa Major de Santa Anna in el Vendrell (Baix Penedès). Read more in Catalan

July 29-August 6, Festa Major of Vilanova i la Gelrú (Garraf) - find here more information in a separate post.

July 30 at 19:00 in the plaça de la Vila of Vilanova i la Geltrú: Human Towers by Bordegassos de Vilanova and Castellers de Vilafranca. Read more in Catalan

July 30 at 20:00 in plaça de la Vall del Castell in Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès) – Diada de Màrtirs Street: Human Towers by Castellers de Barcelona, Colla Vella dels Xiquets de Valls, and Colla Jove dels Castellers de Sitges. Read more in Catalan

Other Events

July 1-3, Caixa Penedès ViJazz 2011 - the annual jazz festival and wine fair of Vilafranca del Penedès. Read more in Catalan

July 1-3 at Molí del Mar, Platja del Far in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf): Faraday - Independent Music Festival. Read more in English

July 6-10; the European Balloon Festival of Igualada (Anoia) – with the participation of some 50 hot air balloons. Read more in English.

July 8-10, Gay Pride Sitges (Garraf). Read more in English

July 15-17, FIMPT - the 31st edition of the world music festival of Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf)  (Festival Internacional de Música Popular Tradicional). Read more in Catalan.

July 16, Rua Summer Carnaval in les Roquetes (Sant Pere de Ribes, Garraf) - an attempt to live the spirit of carnival, but in the heat of the summer. As far as I can see, this Facebook page is the organizers' only presence on the web.
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The Penedès Agenda is a collection of events which I recommend to foreigners (expats or tourists) who want to explore Penedès or events which I consider important from a – highly subjective – international perspective. It is biased towards the comarca Garraf (Sitges and Vilanova) but also covers Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Anoia.

The agenda posts are up-dated whenever I learn about new things. To the greatest extent possible will I link back to official pages for information on time and locations and cannot guarantee the correctness of the data presented. Feel free to inform me about events which you think would fit in here, either by writing a comment or contacting on twitter (@wirdheim).

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Penedès Municipalities Cut Back on Remuneration for Politicians

In order to save public money, the new local government of Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf) will only have two councillors employed full time, while the others will be compensated on a part-time basis. At the same time in el Vendrell (Baix Penedès), the budget to remunerate politicians will be cut back with some 200.000 Euros.

The measures will obviously not be enough to appease the indignados – the protesters which until recently have been camping in central squares all around Spain – but I would still suggest that we recognize them as steps in the right direction.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova,

Calafell Removes Seaside Bicycle Lane

The ajuntament of Calafell (Baix Penedès) has decided to remove a bicycle lane in the street along the sea front. It was inaugurated as recently as Easter this year, but there have already been two accidents. Bikes will now be allowed back on the passeig Marítim, although that risks to create inconvenience for the pedestrians.

To me, this seems to be a wise decision: I would not use a bicycle lane where I do not feel safe, let alone if I had my children with me.

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Read more in Catalan: El Punt

Les Roquetes Now has a Fresh Food Market

Les Roquetes (Sant Pere de Ribes, Garraf) now has its own fresh food market located in a new shopping complex - completely financed by the chain Mercadona, which in return has been granted a 40-year concession to operate the adjacent supermarket. The name, la Sinia, reveals that the building is in a place where formerly there used to be a waterwheel.

Let us celebrate that les Roquetes can offer an improved service level and 60 new job opportunities for its inhabitants, without any major expenses for the municipal coffins.

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Read more in Catalan:

Friday, 24 June 2011

Swedish Midsummer at Mas Orpí, Alt Penedès

Today, Friday, Swedes living in Sweden will celebrate Midsummer, while we and a group of more or less Swedish families from Barcelona and its vicinity already have this behind us. For the fourth consecutive year we rented a masia (a former Catalan farmhouse) for a weekend, to be able to live out our own traditions with songs, herring and potatoes plus schnapps and everything else that goes with it.

This year we organized the event in the Penedès area and if I am allowed to decide, we will of course remain here. The house, Mas Orpí (Castellví de la marca), had many rooms, a well-equipped kitchen, large common areas and - above all – an incredible view of Penedès vineyards and the rolling landscape. Or "Penedès, aka Tuscany, aka Falcon Crest", as one of our friends put it.

The only thing we missed a bit was a patch of grass big enough for our dances, but we were helped out by the neighbours who let us erect our maypole (midsommarstång, in Swedish) on their land. So, in the end our children received their annual dose of små grodorna while a few native Catalans had their Sunday afternoon enriched with Swedish culture.

SWE: Svensk midsommar på Mas Orpí, Alt Penedès

Idag, fredag, firar svenskarna i Sverige midsommarafton, medan vi och ett gäng andra halv- eller helsvenska familjer från Barcelona med omnejd redan har det bakom oss. För fjärde året i rad hyrde vi en masia (en f.d. katalansk bondgård) över en helg för att kunna leva ut vårt eget hemlands traditioner med sång, sill och potatis samt snaps och annat som hör till.

I år höll vi till i Penedès-området och får jag bestämma så stannar vi naturligtvis här. Huset, Mas Orpí (Castellví de la marca), hade många rum, ett välutrustat kök, stora gemensamma ytor och – framför allt – en otrolig utsikt över Penedès vingårdar och böljande landskap. Eller ”Penedès, aka Toscana, aka Falcon Crest”, som en festdeltagare uttryckte det.

Det enda vi saknade var en gräsplätt tillräckligt stor för dansen, men det löstes av grannarna som lät oss resa vår midsommarstång på deras ägor. Så fick våra barn sin årliga dos av små grodorna medan ett gäng infödda katalaner fick en söndagseftermiddag berikad med svensk kultur.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Findings from Abric Romaní Suggest Neanderthal Social Complexity

Many scientists consider that homo neanderthalensis lived their lives repeating the same activities, but a paper by IPHES (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), recently published in Quaternary International suggests that Neanderthals did not always follow routines, but could participate in a more complex collaboration. The idea is based on findings in the archelogic excavation site Abric Romaní in Capellades (Anoia) where bone leftovers reveal that one and the same animal was sometimes eaten in several places, indicating that food was being shared between the hearths.

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Find here a full article in English on these findings.

Read more in Catalan:

Sitges Cocaine Laboratory Dismantled

Three home based drug production laboratories, of which one was located in Sitges (Garraf), have been dismantled in a police operation. Some 35 kilos of cocaine, € 10.000 in cash, two firearms and five luxury cars were confiscated and nine people were detained. The group operated with an advanced security system and is believed to have been headed by a Columbian national.

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Source: Diari de Vilanova

Friday, 17 June 2011

The 50th Anniversary of the Wine Label D.O. Penedès

On the Friday June 10, the label of origin Denominació d’Origen Penedès celebrated its 50th anniversary with a ceremony in Banyeres del Penedès (Baix Penedès). In his speech, Francesc Pascual i Subirana, president of the D.O. Penedès supervising body, among other things pointed out that this was the first area in Spain to have ecologic vineyards and that wines from here are being sold in over 140 countries. The event counted on the presence of Catalan prime minister Artur Mas.
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Read more in Catalan:

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Josep Antoni Blanco Continues as the Mayor of Sant Pere de Ribes

Josep Antoni Blanco was reelected Mayor of Sant Pere de Ribes (Garraf) since PSC – with 7 seats (-2) was the most voted list. However, during this term of office he will not be able to count on a tripartit to build majorities. ICV maintained their 1 seat, but ERC lost the one they used to hold. The other parties represented in the town council are CiU (5 (+1)), the local party Unitat Municipal 9 (5 (+1)) and PP (3 (+1)).

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova

International Smart Phone Conference in Vilanova i la Geltrú

May 15-17, the 9th International Conference on Wired/Wireless Internet Communications (WWIC) takes place in the tech centre Neàpolis of Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf). It is organised by the research group ANA (Advanced Network Architectures), sees some 60 participants and focuses on a number of selected scientific papers. Earlier editions have, for example, been held in Luleå, Sweden (2010), Twente, Netherlands (2009) and Tampere, Finland (2008).

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Find here the WWIC web page

Read more in Catalan: Vilanova Digital

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Pere Regull (CiU) Continues as the Mayor of Vilafranca del Penedès

In the name of plurality, CiU of Vilafranca del Penedès (Alt Penedès) have decided to form a local minority government based on 9 seats (+1) – lead by sitting Mayor Pere Regull. They thereby turned down an offer by PP with 2 seats (+1) to enter into a formal cooperation during the coming four years. The other parties represented in the local town council are PSC (6 (-2)), CUP (2 (+/-0)), ERC (1 (+(-0)) and ICV (1 (+/-0)).

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Read more in Catalan:

Xenophobe PxC will Not be Decisive in el Vendrell

El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) is one of the municipalities where the xenophobe party Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC) has an extremely strong representation in the town council; 5 seats (+1) of 21 in total. During the weeks following the May 22 municipal elections, this town repeatedly made headlines in Catalan media, since it seemed that the local CiU organization, with 6 seats (-1) and headed by sitting Mayor Benet Jané, would try to stay in power with the support of PxC and against CiU’s own general policy to let the party with most votes get the first chance to form a government.

The odd outcome of the matter is that el Vendrell will now be governed by a four-party coalition where Benet Jané will hold the position of Mayor for two years, and then hand over to Martí Carnicer (PSC – 7 seats (+/-0)) for the last two ones. The remaining two coalition parties are PP (2 (+/-0)) and the local party Junts pel Vendrell (1 (+1).

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Read more in Catalan:

The full agreement between the four coalition parties can be found in Catalan here.

Neus Lloveras (CiU) – the First Female Mayor of Vilanova

Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf) now officially has a local CiU government, with 9 seats (+/- 0) and lead by Neus Lloveras. PP, with 3 seats (+1), can be an allied, but CiU and PP together do not reach an absolute majority. The only party by itself big enough to do so is PSC with 8 seats (-2), so it can be expected that this is where the first female Mayor of this town will start most negotiations. During the investiture meeting, outgoing Mayor Joan Ignasi Elena (PSC) promised to form a constructive opposition but not without certain demands.

During the investiture debate, especially ICV (+/- 0) expressed their disappointment with CUP (3 seats (+2)) for not having wanted to build a new version of the tripartit, but CUP remained true to their ideals, voted for their own mayor candidate and preferred to spend their time outlining how they will act in opposition.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Miquel Forns (CiU) – the Next Mayor of Sitges

There has been a formal agreement on the next municipal government of Sitges (Garraf) and Miquel Forns will be voted mayor. His CiU has gone from 4 to 6 seats in the town council – whereby they are still smaller than Jordi Baijet’s PSC (7 seats, (-3)) - but will build a coalition with PP (3 (+1)) and the local parties Nou Horitzó (2 (+/-0)) and Sitges GI (2 (+2)).

The final seat of a total of 21 will be held by CUP which, for the first time, managed to enter the Sitges town council, while ERC, ICV-EUiA and the local AxS all lost the one seat each which they used to have.

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Read more in Catalan: Diari de Vilanova

Logis Penedès – one of Four Catalan Trans-Shipment Centres

The Generalitat has decided to develop EU standard trans-shipment areas to facilitate interconnections between road and railway (dual gauge) transport. These terminals will be located in the logistic centres in Penedès, Prat, Vallès and Empordà.

In a press release, Lluís Recoder, Catalan councilor of infrastructure (Territori i sostenibilitat), points out that Logis Penedès (in between l’Arboç, Banyeres del Penedès och Sant Jaume dels Domenys) is meant to be a high value-added logistic centre.

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Read more in Catalan:

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A Proper Concert Stage in Vilanova i la Geltrú

On June 4, l’Auditòri Eduard Toldrà – a concert auditorium in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Garraf) - opened up its doors to the public. It is located in C/ d’Olesa de Bonesvalls 8, next to the municipal music school and with a direct access between the two buildings.

Eduard Toldrà i Soler (1895-1962) was a Catalan composer, born in Vilanova.

The total investment in this new facility was € 5 million, of which € 1,8 million was contributed by Diputació de Barcelona.

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Find here the web page of the new Vilanova auditorium.

Catalan and Spanish Business Leaders Meet in Sitges

Between June 2 and 4, Cercle d’Economia - now headed by Josep Piqué - held yet another of their annual meetings at the hotel Meliá in Sitges (Garraf) and in spite of the crisis they managed to bring together the business and political elite of Catalonia and Spain.

Among the comments which media has reported from the meeting, we find Artur Mas’ message to PP that CiU will make a new fiscal agreement (concert econòmic) for Catalonia a prerequisite for any future collaboration and PP leader Mariano Rajoy’s reply that he will be prepared to study the matter. The Governor of the Spain’s central bank, Miguel Ángel Fernández Ordóñez, demanded a profound legal and institutional reform of the deficient Spanish labour market and also hinted that the process for establishing the market value of Spains struggling cajas could result in some kind of asset protection for the coming buyers. Economist Joseph Stiglitz, finally, suggested that a controlled restructuring of European public debt would not be “the end of the world”.

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Read more in Spanish - Expansión 1, 2; LaVanguardia 1 - and in English - Wall Street Journal 1.