Mallorca Travel: The Gorgeous Tramuntana Mountains, Finca Ca’s Sant and Soller
Following a group of more leisurely cyclists, we continued on the winding mountain roads through the Tramuntana region. Our final destination for the day was the mountain town of Sóller, a popular tourist town in the centre of the mountain chain. We were going to spend the night at a rural hotel called Finca Ca’s Sant, a working orange plantation in the middle of town.
Sóller, named after the Arab word “suliar” for “golden bowl”, is known as the “orange bowl of Mallorca”. It has the perfect climate and location for the many orange groves that brought the town prosperity. Starting in the eight century A.D., Arab settlers introduced their unique irrigation techniques and they started to cultivate oranges and olives on the slopes of the Serra de Tramuntana. Most of the fruits were exported to France which resulted in a strong cultural link between Sóller and France.
Rafael Forteza, our gracious host at Finca Ca’s Sant
Around 4 pm we arrived at our rural hotel, Finca Ca’s Sant, and the owners, Rafael and Lourdes Forteza, welcomed us. They showed us to our impressive spacious bedroom, located in a side building with a nice terrace. I requested Rafael to give me a tour through the property and he graciously explained that Finca Ca’s Sant has a history of more than 300 years. As a matter of fact, the stones of the main building are talking history, showing the different stages of construction over the years.
The beautiful courtyard of Finca Ca’s Sant
Rafael then took me inside the large stone house and showed me the large formal dining room which features heavy walnut furniture that was built in the 18th century. The room is adorned with original paintings by Mallorcan artists, and glass chandeliers from the renowned Gordiola factory light up the room. The piano on the wall comes with a special story: it originally was built in France, then travelled to Cuba and was finally transported to Mallorca. Famous singer Annie Lennox has stayed here at Finca Ca’s Sant three times and she played on this very piano.
Finca Ca’s Sant’s dining room with Annie Lennox’ piano
In the hallway, Rafael showed me two original historic paintings: one painting in dark colours features a cleric of some sort, but the handwritten description below the picture was painted over in black. Rafael explained that this was done during the Spanish Civil War because the Republicans had a highly anti-clerical mindset. A second picture next to the entrance features two bullet holes that also originated during the Spanish Civil War. In front of the stairs, a table displayed various products made by Finca Ca’s Sant: orange jam, orange-flavoured salt and a recipe book with authentic recipes from the Forteza family. Orange products are produced by a local organization that employs people with disabilities.
The swimming pool with a great view of Mallorca’s Tramuntana Mountains
The library and breakfast room to the left are also equipped with vintage furniture and paintings by local artists. Guests can relax with a good book or a magazine in the library. More Mallorcan glass chandeliers brighten up the breakfast room.
Rafael then took me outside and showed me the attractive swimming pool area which saw the addition of a pool ramp for disabled visitors last year. On a stroll through the property he showed me the little “casita”, a private little guest house right in the middle of the orange orchards. From here the mountain panorama surrounding Sóller became visible, with the Puig Major, the island’s highest peak, overlooking the valley from the north.
Mountain view from the garden of Finca Ca’s Sant
Rafael explained that Finca Ca’s Sant is actually composed of 18 smaller fincas and now makes up a property of 30,000 square metres (about 7.4 acres) in the middle of town, about 600 metres away from the town square. Running an orange plantation is extremely time-consuming and Rafael and his son spend many hours daily picking oranges during harvest time. At other times of the year the orange trees need to be pruned and maintained, so there is always a lot of work at Finca Ca’s Sant.
The terrace in front of our room
I also learned that there are more than 4,000 varieties of oranges, but only about 40 of them are commercialized. Rafael replaced all the orange trees on his property a few years ago and intentionally chose a variety that would ripen in January and February, at temperatures below 18 degree. This type of variety is less prone to insect infestation and therefore requires very little, if any, insect control. As a result, the oranges from Finca Ca’s Sant are grown almost completely organically.
Our bedroom at Finca Ca’s Sant