There is no better way here to spend a Sunday in spring than taking a walk around the ancient countryside surrounding Tarragona. After the recent rains everything is in bloom, the blue sky is a buzz and the world turns in to technicolor.
We are back in the Tarragonese heartland, starting from the tiny village of Reanu and walking into the fertile wine growing region. Everything here is bountiful, the olive and almond trees, the sprouting wines, fields planted with onions and wheat. The walk is neatly signposted and there are plenty of route options: it’s 16 kilometers to the Cistercian monastery of Santes Creus, 17 kilometres back to Tarragona, both of which you can walk or cycle, and then there is the walk of the Ronda Verda del Baix Gaìa some of which is covered here.
Before the phylloxera outbreak which spread from France to Catalonia the wine production here was huge. Thorough back breaking work, hills and mountain slopes were transformed into terraces held together by dry stone walls. When the whole industry collapsed some of the most accessible terraces were re-planted with carob trees but most were just left to the wilderness until the second half of last century.
Now look at it: small cooperatives all over the area have set up, busy producing some truly outstanding wines including Grenache, Muscat and Vimblanc. Along the route you can see the old terraces and ancient remnants of manor houses, some of which go back to the 16th century, with caved in cellars and crumbling walls. All around is a great biodiversity where the wild mixes with olives, hazelnuts, carobs and almond groves. It an organic symbiosis which sometime (but thankfully not often) is interrupted by unkind modern intervention.
You return via Renau with its silent sloping street and the little churchyard, a little piece of heaven.