Residencia Literaria Llibreria Finestres
La finca de la residencia literaria, con la Cala Sanià a las puertas.

A refuge for writers emerges among the pines and coves of Palamós

The project is promoted by the businessman and philanthropist Sergi Ferrer-Salat, also owner of the Finestres bookstore. The space seeks to attract new talents and consolidated creators, both local and international, to develop their books, with the capacity to host fifty authors each year.

With the murmur of the waves of the sea and the swaying of the pine trees in the background, a property stands with its whiteness, almost brilliant, in the middle of nowhere, on a cliff of the Costa Brava. It is not easy to reach it, with a dirt road that challenges with stumbling vehicles that dare to enter, proposing as an alternative a long walk that allows you to get away from everything and go imbibing in the environment, calm and wild. This is where the businessman and philanthropist Sergi Ferrer-Salat has decided to set up a literary residence for new talents and consolidated creators, continuing with the commitment to the world of books that began with the opening of the Finestres bookstore three years ago.

It was not a casual choice. His family, owners of the Ferrer pharmaceutical group, acquired the estate located in Palamós in the early seventies to spend the summers. It had the grace of having been built by the couple formed by the exiled Tsarist colonel Nicolai Woevodsky and the English aristocrat Dorothy Webster, also responsible for the Cap Roig castle that now fills every summer with music with the Cap Roig festival. But the most relevant thing is that, a few years before the arrival of the Ferrer Salat family, it had been occupied by the American writer Truman Capote, isolated in this natural setting to write In Cold Blood, one of his most celebrated novels and the driving force behind the new journalism. For Ferrer-Salat, this detail, without forgetting the landscapes that accompany it, surrounded by the Camí de Ronda and crowned by the Cala Sanià, confirm the house as the ideal setting to become “one of the best literary residences in the world”.

Before the official inauguration a few days ago, the equipment has been testing its model for almost a year with guests such as Irene Solà, Sabina Urraca, Leila Guerriero, Pol Guasch, Alba Muñoz and Gabriela Wiener. In fact, the former, author of the acclaimed Canto jo i la muntanya balla (Anagrama), was the only one to give any clue about the existence of this new space. He did so in the acknowledgements of his latest novel, Et vaig donar ulls i vas mirar les tenebres (Anagrama), being in Palamós where he finished it. After the launch, the new writers to be welcomed will be Mariana Enriquez, Kae Tempest, Robin Robertson and Irene Pujades.

Nicolás G. Botero, project director, is in charge of coordinating and supervising their stay. He comes from the Santa Maddalena Foundation, a literary residence located in Tuscany where he served as literary curator until 2020. “A literary residency is not a place where you just go to write a book,” he says, also giving importance to the relationships that are woven with the companions with whom you share a house for a whole month.

To this end, meals are an essential part of the authors’ daily lives, with a local diet prepared by chef Ariadna Julián.previously focused on leading her own restaurant in Sabadell, El Fil d’Ariadna, and whom Ferrer-Salat already knew from Monvínic, where she was in charge of its kitchen before it closed. The tenants have a couple of hours for breakfast, but at 13.30 lunch is eaten and at 20.30 dinner is served, at which time they meet and see each other after hours locked in their rooms. They are not obliged to do so, as in the case of Leila Guerriero, who only went out for dinner and did not stop working from morning until night.

To become a tenant of this idyllic spot in Palamós, you only have to be an author, of any nationality and language, with an idea to develop. There will be three ways to access the program. Firstly, through the programs and prizes organized by the bookstore itself, offering a place to all the winners. There will also be an open call for projects of novels, short stories and poems that are already in progress. Finally, the program will be in charge of directly inviting creators who may be interested, focusing on international profiles to mix them with local ones. Once selected, they will be able to stay in the house for a month with all food and lodging expenses covered, with a total of four writers living in each batch. The forecast is to host 44 writers each year, closing only in the month of August.

Nicolás G. Botero Finestres Literary Residence
Nicolás G.Botero, director of the Finestres Literary Residence.

A room of your own

As soon as you enter, a large library welcomes you. “It’s growing,” Botero notes, with many shelves still empty. With the Finestres bookstore team, a selection is being made for writers who are immersed in a creative process, not so much by filling it with classics but with titles that help them in their journey. It can be seen that some of his books are already lived. In a corner, without attracting much attention, the first creator who wrote in that house has his small collection of titles, with more than one copy of InCold Blood And, being where he is, Josep Pla is not missing either.

As soon as you enter, a large library welcomes you, with some of its books showing that they have already been lived in.

Climbing the stairs, you reach the first and second floors, where the future tenants of the residence will sleep and write. Each of them will have their own bedroom, so as not to disappoint the Woolf, but also a study and a bathroom. There is also a living room with an incredibly large television. All the rooms are invaded by the exterior, but there are some with more privileged views, overlooking the blue sea in the distance and, closer, the swimming pool which also has the house. For the vast majority, more distraction than inspiration. To counteract this, there is no coverage on the property and only a wifi connection. Oh, and guests are not accepted.

But the literary residence has an annex. Known among the driving team as “the hut”, the plot has a hut a little far away, almost at the foot of another cove, that of the Canyers. In a small space, a loft bed is combined with a desk with a direct view of the sea and the bathroom on the first floor. It is expected that the authors that Botero considers to be the most daring will settle here because it is completely isolated and has no wifi, but, completely renovated, it may be the quietest and most attractive, in the middle of nowhere and with the sea just a few steps away. At the entrance, a headlamp reminds us that this room is for adventurers only.

Finestres Literary Residence Room
One of the property’s rooms.

And a bookstore for Palamós

Ferrer-Salat wanted to extend Finestres’ mark in Palamós beyond the new literary residence. The businessman will reopen the local that was left empty with the closure in 2019 of the Gavina bookstore, leaving the municipality orphaned. He himself remembers his walks to the establishment to look for readings when he summered there. Between spring and summer next year, the first branch of the Diputació street bookstore will be inaugurated, following the path also taken by the Barcelona bookstore NoLlegiu in Palafrugell.It occupies the place where the historical Mediterrània had been and had replaced the Vitel-la for a few years until last autumn. It seems that to Ferrer-Salat nothing seems to be enough and he has noticed that the so-called Barraca d’en Dalí, characterized by having a crooked door and coincidentally being very close to the estate of the literary residence, is closed up tight and is in bad condition. The idea is already in his head that he needs a restoration.

With both the new bookstore and the literary residence, the president of the Ferrer group continues a career of patronage that his family began with the Ferrer-Salat Music Foundation, promoted by his father, Carles Ferrer Salat, in 1982. It also has the Ferrer Sustainability Foundation, with projects such as daily cooking for vulnerable people in Barcelonès and Maresme, in which chef Ariadna Julián also participates. To make this possible, the biopharmaceutical group allocates 50% of its profits to finance these activities, which it believes should serve to redistribute wealth, reduce inequalities and ensure equal opportunities. In 2022, the group earned €28 million.

Finestres Literary Residence Cottage
The one known as “the hut”, where the fourth writer of each group will be installed.