A relaxing seaside promenade
If you are staying for some time in Vilanova i la Geltrù, fatally you will end up, sooner or later, walking on the seaside promenade, called Passeig Maritim in Catalan. It is, indeed, one of the most fascinating places in the town, offering some features of interest and boasting, above all, a superb view on the sea. In case you are planning to enjoy the place with your bike, a special cycling lane is provided to prevent cyclist from disturbing cyclists from disturbing pedestrians (or the other way round). Although, the best way to appreciate the promenade is probably going for a quiet walk, taking pleasure in the sun and the charming landscape (which is what most Vilanovins normally do).
Our itinerary starts from the northern point of the coast of Vilanova i la Geltrù, a low hillock called Turò (hill) of Sant Cristofol. Besides a series of villas, it is possible to admire a graceful hermitage, called Ermita de Sant Cristofol, dating back to the 13th century. In addition to a fine mosaic, depicting the saint to whom the place is devoted, it is important to remark that Eugeni d'Ors, a man of literature and intellectual of prominence during the first half of the 20th century, used to live in the surroundings. Indeed, he spent his last years in Vilanova i la Geltrù, where he passed away in 1954. Going down the road towards the promenade, you will notice on the left the lighthouse. Needless to say, it is called Faro de San Cristobal, and it is the only one currently working in the area. Moreover, it also houses a small museum called Museu del Mar.
Having crossed the bridge, it is worth turning left for a short walk along the platform, from which you will enjoy a series of interesting views: towering on a bed of wild yellow flowers, the silhouette of the lighthouse is still well in sight, while on the other side the first boats of the vast harbour, visible at distance, are quietly anchored at the dock. Retracing your steps (not without casting a glance at the sea, half-hidden by the lush vegetation), you will then start your long way along the promenade, which in this opening section is still a bit unadorned. Going past the first buildings of the harbour, it is interesting to notice the colourful nets which the fishermen normally leave there to dry in the sun. A small group of haggard cats may also appear nearby, meowing hopefully in search of some fish to eat. And of course, all these things are accompanied by the inevitable smell of fish, which may not be very pleasant but it is a basic component of the environment.
Leaving behind this characteristic part to go on to the most "civilised" one, (though personally I really appreciated the typical features of the surroundings I have just described), you will then head southward. As you will notice, the harbour has been now replaced by the marina: instead of the seasoned fishing boats, covered in seaweeds, the scene is taken by the slim masts of the polished sport boats, sometimes flanked by elegant sail ships. On the background, it is possible to see the large bulk of some yachts peeping out (though, at least to me, they represent the less interesting part). On the left, at the end of a small platform protruding towards the sea, a sculpture is placed right in front of the marina, as a tribute which Vilanova i la Geltrù devoted to its sea workers.
Going past the tourist office, after walking for another stretch with the pleasant sight of the boats on the left (they are usually so numerous they almost seem a thick forest of masts, sails and lines) you will then reach the Torre de Ribes Roges. Located about halfway between the two extremes of the promenade, it is the only remaining of the towers which originally guarded the maritime zone of Vilanova i la Geltrù. At this point, on the left side of the passeig you will find a pleasant green area, introducing you to the second part of the promenade. Consisting in a long wide avenue flanked by palm trees, this stretch is normally crowded by a drove of Vilanovins, who go there for a relaxed walk, a healthy run, or just to sit on the benches, basking in the sun and contemplating the sea. I must confess I will probably miss it very much once back home!
This stretch of the promenade offers really enchanting views of the seaside, especially at sunset, as the coast is oriented westward. That is the reason why many people crowd the area around the Pasifae, a characteristic sculpture representing a bull which has become one of the symbols of Vilanova i la Geltrù. Located on a platform on the verge of the sea, it is clearly visible from distance, but I would really recommend walking up to there. It will probably cost you some sands in the shoes, but it is really worth: even if you will not have the chance to be there alone (it seldom happens), it will be a charming experience to stand in the glow of the sunset, contemplating the fading sun and listening to the waves breaking on the rocks.
In case you want to extend your relaxing walk (or just if you are waiting for the sunset to come), it is possible to go on and reach the end of the promenade. There, a pebbled passage on the right will allow cyclist to avoid the steep staircase obviously reserved to the pedestrians. In doing so, they may have a look at the small archaeological site (probably an Iberian settlement, dating back to the 6th century B.C.). Having climbed the hill of Sant Gervasi, the northern extreme of the promenade, you will have the chance to admire more views of the sea and of the quiet beach of Sant Gervasi. Turning around, instead, it will be possible to contemplate all the promenade you have been going through, with the harbour still visible at distance. Quite a nice view, though probably more fascinating at dawn!