By Alyssa Benjamin
The essence of the Balearic island of Mallorca can be found at the curious turn down a cobblestone alley or an early morning stop at the local mercat (marketplace) where the land’s gifts are on brilliant display - a vibrant layering of fresh figs, peaches, grapes, tomatoes, basil and leeks - ready to be tossed into a woven basket and hauled off for the day’s meal. The humid, penetrating heat of August is acutely supportive of the traditional mid-day siesta wherein activity slows and the town turns inward. At the golden hour, the rays from the setting sun illuminate the mountains, reflecting their red and orange hues.
The island’s capital, Palma, spills into the bay, its colorful buildings - in a variety of architectural styles from modern to art nouveau - are signposts of Mallorca’s rich and multi-cultural past. Take a walk along the meandering streets in the old city and refresh with an early evening swim in one of Palma’s calas (coves) once the afternoon heat wanes.
Mallorca is celebrated for its intricate woven baskets (Senalles) made from the leaves of the native dwarf palm (Palmetto), although tourism and globalization have shifted much of its production elsewhere. Visit Mimbreria Vidal in Palma’s old city for baskets of every size, shape, variety and materiality that are made exclusively in Mallorca using centuries-old artisanal weaving techniques.
On the northwest coast of the island sits a lush, bowl-shaped valley surrounded by steep, jagged, pine-covered mountains. This valley, also known as valley of the oranges, or Sóller, was cradled in isolation for decades, its fertile soil carpeted by palms, pine bushes, shrubs and an abundance of lemon, lime and orange trees. Olive trees are built into the hillsides via a terrace system, scattered like giant potpourri across horizontal fields that follow the contours of the land. Though Sóller is now easily accessible to tourists, it remains a beacon of Mallorcan culture and an elegant reminder of a simpler, more natural existence.
Eat and Drink:
- Ca-N'antuna in Fornalutx for a rustic meal on a terrace overlooking the valley just east of Sóller
- Fresh ingredients of the region: Olives, Sobrassada (pork sausage), Grimalt cheese, Ramallet tomatoes
- Hierbas, an aniseed-flavored liquor made from extracting the aromas of various plants: fennel, thyme, rosemary, lavender, chamomile, juniper, mint, healthy grass, leaves etc.
- Mallorca has a market for every day of the week. Our favorites are the Saturday market in Sóller and the Sunday flea market in Consell, which both retain the thrill of discovery.
- Take a dip (or several) in the Mediterranean Sea, which at the peak of summer, is as warm as a bath. It is calm in the bay at the Puerto de Sóller and delightfully unpredictable in the unmonitored coves where you can enjoy a quieter, more meditative swim.
- Visit the Miró Mallorca Fundació to explore the studios and workshops of Joan Miró, the celebrated surrealist painter, sculptor and ceramicist who called Palma home for much of his prolific career. The Fundació also includes a museum and beautifully kept sculptural gardens that provide stunning aerial views of the city.