The abiding impression of this location is of natural balance in a completely beautiful setting.
Montseny is, without doubt, one of the most special areas in north-east Spain. It's where hiking is said to have first started in the country, in a mountain range where fragrant pine forests combine with tremendously healthy Mediterranean tree and plant life, and a climate whose mildness reminds you that the sea is only half an hour away.
Blessed with profuse woodlands, it is also rich in aquifers –local Arbuciés is a thriving little town thanks in part to bottling the pure mountain spring water– and the clear, little river running through this property adds special charm to what is a unique scene.
This nicely presented two-bedroomed apartment, annexed to a 16th century farmhouse, is one of those places where you feel immediately at home. Unlike some holiday villas we visit, which have been made sumptuous or packed full of electronic gadgetry to overcompensate for what they lack elsewhere, here everything looks and feels natural and appropriate in tastefully created accommodation. It is, of course, well equipped for a holiday stay or it wouldn't be a Rustical Travel property!
This place encapsulates what rural tourism was all about in Spain before less authentic imitations sprang up in competition. When Ernest and Lluisa were running this certified organic farm many years ago, they started to rent a couple of rooms in the farmhouse to boost the family economy, which was then based entirely on sheep farming. They discovered a rare talent for making people feel welcome and their bed-and-breakfast weekends soon become so popular that they decided to build instead three pretty independent apartments instead: this, one smaller, one-bedroomed apartment CA12(1), and a cottage 2 minutes walk away: CA45. They reduced the sheep rearing to a minimum in order to dedicate time and care to rural tourism and their guests.
Nowadays, they strike a happy balance, which includes making available to guests well-priced priced lamb and other products from the land, aware that wholesome fare on the table is part of any genuine rural experience of Catalonia. The farm is completely chemical-free and the locality is well known for its abundance of wonderful mineral water sources.
There are only 2 other places to stay here, both one bedded; they set apart and face away, so there's no sense of impinging on each other's privacy.
Your ground floor apartment has a sunny outdoor breakfast spot as well as a large, covered barbecue area, plus its own garden and sunbeds, for shade or sun as you wish. The river (more like a enthusiastic stream) is close by, as is a fantastic play area for children, with tree huts, cabins and lots of space for them to run around and enjoy themselves among the trees, with one or two of the farm's horses looking on from a nearby field.
Some 200 metres away from the house, the pool area has been created as a fenced-off retreat. Even the stroll from house to pool is a charming experience. The swimming pool may be shared with two one bedded apartment: you may well come across each other, as well as your hosts at the farm, but the accommodation is arranged so that the three apartments in total in the estate enjoy intimacy.
You also share use of a small library with valuable local information, books and maps (which can be purchased, as can local wine and Ernest's lamps).
Returning holidaymakers cite a sense of feeling at home as a main reason for coming back here: small families or couples, they all report having had special holidays here. Over the years, the accommodation and the owners have built up a deservedly good reputation, which has a good deal to do with a desire to make people from different countries feel looked after here.
Theirs is a small up-and-running organic farm with fruit trees, market gardens and sheep, and yet it enjoys an enviable tranquility as a result of being secluded from other properties and roads, being accessed by a 1.2 km track (a bit bumpy but fine). The equilibrium between farming activity and rural tourism is intelligently thought out. Sheep have their own grazing, while elsewhere is richly planted with flowers, shrubs, climbing plants and all manner of fruit trees, all nicely spaced and spread out around the land.
There's so much to do in the area that it would fill a book to describe all the options, but here's a foretaste.
Walking and rambling: these have almost endless attractive possibilities. The outstanding beauty of the heights in Montseny Natural Park make it an absolute must for anyone not addicted to lounging with a book all week! It has superb trails, forests and mountain views. You can make out one of the Montseny peaks in the photos.
Horse riding is also available at very good stables.
Among castles in the region is one in the local vicinity which is being restored and can be visited despite being a work-in-progress.
Sea, sun and healing waters? No problem! Costa Brava and its excellent beaches are 35 km away, and the spa of Santa Coloma de Farners just 20 km.
For people-watching we thoroughly recommend street markets such as the one held every Tuesday and Saturday in Vic (and on Sunday for fresh food). These are traditional and lively events.
Food and drink? Local Arbucies has five restaurants: three are classic Spanish affairs and two are signature restaurants. Dining out here is a real treat: Girona has nothing to envy the rest of Spain when it comes to gastronomy.
For rural tourism in Catalonia, it's the real deal.