The countryside begins on the front doorstep. Arable farmland is broken up by large sections of forest. The forest is made up of pine and holm oak, dotted with poplars and cypress. Rocky hill slopes are covered with wild rosemary, thyme and broom. During May, hundreds of types of wildflowers bloom in as many colours – many more than we can name. It is a true spectacle.
The village itself is sheltered in a dip, so most walks begin with a gentle uphill climb that quickly leads to views of tens-of-miles of green hills and, to the North, the pre-Pyrenees. The mountains are close enough that we can gauge when it has snowed, and how much.
Thirty minutes on foot brings you to the archeological remains of the Roman stronghold – Puig Ciutat. A couple of hours walking in the opposite direction will lead you to the house of the Catalan bandit, Perot Rocaguinarda, the “Robin Hood of Catalonia”, who inspired the character Rocguinart in part two of Don Quixote.
Sheer, red cliffs and overhangs appear out of nowhere. Fossils cover lots of the rock underfoot. A number of small rivers flow nearby. Our main river is La Gavaressa.
Cuckoos, owls, house martins, swifts, swallows, and great tits are the everyday chorus. We also see and hear jays, hoopoe and woodpeckers throughout the spring and summer. Birds of prey – vultures and kestrels – can be spotted if you are patient. A family of ravens live on the hill at the back of the house and in a nearby stream there is a family of heron. Lizards, small mammals such as voles and shrews, deer, badgers and bats have the run of the area. Wild pigs deserve a special mention, they are rarely seen, but their scratchings, foraging and footprints remind us they are never more than a few feet away.
In Oristà we have our own pre-romanesque crypt. There is also an extensive ceramics museum. Both are open during the spring and summer on Wednesday mornings.
Barcelona is easily reachable for the day by bus or train from Vic. Girona is accessible from Vic by a daily non-stop bus.
In San Feliu Sassera there is a beautiful outdoor pool and adjoining restaurant, open from late June until the end of the summer.
Thirty minutes away by car is Vic, a town that began in or before Roman times – a Roman temple still exists there – and that has played an important role in the history of Catalonia. It has cobbled passageways and an impressive central square overlooked by buildings with eighteenth century stucco facades. It is a big town, with great restaurants, a number of small galleries, museums and art suppliers.