The Costa Brava (Wild Coast) is the French Riviera of Catalonia. It has that seductive combination of a good summer climate, natural beauty, golden beaches, and picturesque villages – all of which make it an attractive tourist destination - without the touristy feel of the Costa Del Sol.
Tossa de Mar is a picture-perfect seaside village centered around the Vila Vella Enceinte, the last remaining fortified medieval town on the Catalan coast. Although a lighthouse has replaced the Abbot's castle on the highest point of Mt. Guardi, the battlemented stone walls, turrets, towers, and parapets still enclose narrow cobblestoned streets and houses that have remained mostly unchanged since the 14th century.
While most of the villages on the Costa Brava originally relied on fishing as their main source of income, Tossa's economy thrived on the production of grapes and the export of cork taps to the Americas. But like all the villages on the Spanish coast tourism has now taken over as the primary industry.
My first visit to Tossa was for my sisters wedding. The bridal party stayed at the luxurious Hotel Diana, a gorgeous hotel with amazing views of the Mediterranean and the walled city. My room was situated at the back of the hotel and overlooked a cobbled square in the village, but I didn't mind the lack of sea view. I loved opening my balcony doors to the vibrant sounds of village life flowing through the streets below.
Tossa is a magical spot for a destination wedding. Villagers and tourists cheer on the festive parade as wedding guests wind their way by foot up the steep road that leads into the walled city. The roofless ruins of a medieval church provides a romantic spot for the ceremony with the sparkling ocean as a backdrop, while a tree shaded roof top terrace restaurant provides the perfect spot for an intimate reception.
While my first visit was all expensive hotels and glamorous sunset cocktails, my second involved exploring back alleys, shopping for Italian made clothes (gorgeous and cheap!), playing with my nephew on the course sandy beach and swimming in the warm, completely flat, Mediterranean ocean.
Two very different trips, but both with a magic all their own.