The tourism pioneers of Lloret de Mar

Nowadays Lloret de Mar is chiefly known as a seaside resort where tourism is booming business (well, before Covid-19 made its appearance anyway). But this is a relatively recent development. It was during the 1950s and 60s that this small fishing town was turned into a crowded holiday centre pushing its inhabitants into modernity.

Women played a crucial role in this process, thus not only changing dramatically the day-to-day life of their families but also that of Lloret itself, only compared to the metamorphosing effects on society of the gold rushes in the United States, Australia and elsewhere. Few attention has been paid to this phenomenon, an interesting example of socio-economic history in which women are the principal characters.

It is very well explained in the documentary Pensió Completa (2011), directed by Amaranta Gibert, on which part of this article is based.

Still from the documentary ‘Pensió completa’
How tourism changed Lloret and its inhabitants

Hotel manager against all odds

It was in the news this week: hotel rooms are converted into hospital wards to house convalescent Covid-19 patients. One of these hotels is the historic Hotel Trias in Palamós (Costa Brava). Few people know that this establishment has been built up by a girl of 17 who, despite repeated setbacks, turned a small inn into a prestigious business.

We are talking about Maria Trias Joan who was an only child born to Francisco and Matilde on 29 July 1892 in Sant Joan de Palamós. At the age of fourteen she becomes an orphan and just two years later she decides to take over the family business: the inn founded in 1900.

The hotel in 1913

Maria, and educated woman who speaks French and plays the piano, marries the veterinary Lluís Colomer Moret. He sadly dies when she is expecting their second child, already having lost another one. But she perseveres educating the two children and building up the enterprise all by herself. And not without success, for in 1924 she already is awarded an important touristic prize largely due to her great working capacity, genial character and humanity that attracts many faithful customers. So Fonda Trias becomes a hotel that is a meeting place of international importance.

Maria Trias with her two nieces and waiter Siset Corominola
Destruction, rebuilding and Truman Capote

Mari Pepa Colomer, pilot

A girl, just seven years old, has but one dream: to fly! As she is living on the second floor, she concludes that she can easily fulfill this dream. So she takes an umbrella and jumps from the balcony with the open umbrella by way of a parachute. Of course, this cannot end well, as she is no Mary Poppins. Instead of taking off, she crashes and breaks both legs. Nine years later she has a second try, now with a better result. This is the story of Maria Josep Colomer i Luque, better known as Mari Pepa Colomer (1913-2004).

The young Mari Pepa
As a young girl she already has a very strong bond with her father Josep, a liberal and bohemian textile industrialist, who is a personal friend of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, among others, and linked to the famous café Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona. He sees to it that she can study at the ‘Institut de Cultura i Biblioteca Popular de la Dona‘, a modern and innovative institute in Catalonia’s capital founded in 1909 by Francesca Bonnemaison aiming to give working class women the opportunity of enjoying a good training and learning a trade, so that they could earn their own living.

and then…

Teresa Pàmies: celebrating a centenary

One hundred years ago on 8 October 1919 author, journalist and political activist Teresa Pàmies was born in Balaguer (Lleida). Her work, consisting of novels, diary prose, narrative and article, is an alive witness of the Spanish Civil War and exile and has an autobiographical background.

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Apart from her literary work, Teresa collaborated in radio and press as well as in scientific and cultural magazines; she was also active in politics. For example, she joined the Unified Socialist Youth of Catalonia (1937), of which she would become the leader.

At the end of the Civil War that meant the Republican’s defeat two years later she marched into exile with her father, only to return in 1971 thanks to a visa to receive the Josep Pla Award for Testament in Prague (Testament a Praga).

This book contains a transcription of autobiographical memoires of her father Tomàs Pàmies, a Marxist politicial leader, alternated with messages and texts in which she is reflecting on communism, especially related to the Prague Spring (1968).

The English translation by Melissa Stewart titled Testament in Prague was published in 2005 by University Press of the South, New Orleans.

For more information on Teresa Pàmies, click here.

How women rocked the foundations of universities

Just as in most European countries, Catalan women had to fight their way into university. However, the possibilities in which women could shape their lives were clearly determined by the course of Spanish history.

The first students
In the beginning women entered university by enrolling in medical studies; later on they chose exact sciences. The first woman ever to set foot in a Catalan university classroom was Elena Maseras who enrolled in the Medicine Faculty of the University of Barcelona in 1872 (see pictures below). Allegedly she was applauded when she made her appearance in the lecture room. Some six years later she finished her studies and requested to be examined in order to obtain her degree.

This seemingly simple petition threw the bureaucratic organs of the university into a state of great confusion. It took them three years to sort things out and in February 1889 she finally got permission to present herself at the exams where she obtained the qualification ‘excellent’. Nevertheless, these obstacles had disheartened her, and she decided not to continue her medical studies and gave up her aspirations of becoming a doctor. During the three years of bureaucratic silence she had followed a teacher training and worked in this capacity in secondary institutions till her death.

Reactions
The fact that a woman was studying at university raised a whole range of issues, as this phenomena rocked moral principles of a society that was not prepared to let men and women share the same classsroom. Also ideologic and economic principles were at stake, or so it was believed, when reality sank in: studying women not only wanted to acquire knowledge, but they also intended to exercize a profession.

About insults and what followed

Dolors Sala, entrepreneur

Freixenet, now world leader in the cava sector, would never have occupied this position without the input and talent of Dolors Sala. She was the critical success factor from the foundation of the company right till her death. Freixenet’s story is Dolors’ story.

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Dolors Sala and her husband Pere Ferrer

Origins
When Dolors Sala Vivé and her husband Pere Ferrer Bosch found the company of sparkling wines in 1914 shortly after their marriage, she knows what she is talking about. Dolors is the daughter and granddaughter of specialists in still wines of the old Casa Sala established in 1861 by Francesc Sala Ferrés, her grandfather.

This family business was the first brand to export wines from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia  (Alt Penedès) halfway through the 19th century. Therefore she has an extensive knowledge of oenology. In blind taste tests she can easily distinguish the wines from Sant Sadurní, Subirats and Mediona that are grown around her home.

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Mansion La Freixeneda

Pere in his turn belongs to the Ferrer family which for 18 generations has held the property called ‘La Freixeneda’ (meaning ‘the forest of ash trees’), a 13th-century wine producing estate in Sant Quintí de Mediona. He is the youngest son, hence the nickname ‘Freixenet’ (‘small ash tree’).

Therefore the circumstances seem ideal for this pair. But were they? Continue reading “Dolors Sala, entrepreneur”

Josefina Torrents, sports pioneer and swimmer

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Josefina Torrents at the time of the 1932 race.

19 September 1932. On the quays of the port of Barcelona many people have assembled to watch the sixth edition of the crossing of the port organized by the swimming club Club Natació Barcelona. Some have been able to see the start of the race from the quay of Martell, others enjoy a terrific sight from boats that are anchored in the harbour or witness the arrival on the quay near the Barceloneta and the Palau del Mar (now Museum of the History of Catalonia).

Temperatures are beginning to get lower now that autumn is near, but that did not deter the nearly three hundred swimmers. One of them is Josefina Torrents i Illa, with her 30 years a veteran in perfect shape.

In an article covering the events newspaper La Vanguardia wrote that she had a ‘great mastery of style’, which enabled her to arrive in 50 minutes and 46 secons, the first of the four woman swimmers and sixth in the final rankings. President Macià and his wife Eugènia Lamarca who had witnessed the contest personally congratulated her with this feat. It was one of Torrents’ big successes, but certainly not her only one.

More about Josefina Torrents

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