The White House, built in 1843, is in a narrow street in Rasquera, a typical Catalan farming village, 150 kilometres south of Barcelona, in the foothills of the Sierra Cardó, three kilometres from the Ebro, Spain's longest river and 30 kms inland from Tortosa.
The house has been renovated to provide three bedroom accommodation. The first and second storeys comprise a lounge, kitchen-dining room, double bedroom, two single bedrooms and a bathroom. Limited British satellite television is available.
There is a small roof terrace, with sunbeds and chairs.
Although the house has been fully restored and contains all modern amenities, it should be noted that it is not a modern hotel or beachside apartment. This is a genuine village house, restored and furnished in a simple manner. It is a place for those seeking the tranquility of an authentic Catalan village and the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Rasquera is a typical Catalan farming village about thirty kilometres inland from the unspoilt southern Costa Daurada and just four kilometres from the River Ebro.
It has about 900 inhabitants.
The village is 150 metres above the Ebro Valley, in the foothills of the Serra de Cardó, which reaches 941 metres at its highest point.
A walk up to the Sant Domingo Hermitage, which overlooks Rasquera, will reveal that there are two Rasqueras : the hilly old quarter, whose streets wind round like a corkscrew, very narrow, with alleys, stone steps and arches; some houses are very photogenic, others are in need of renovation, but most are at least 150 years old.
The newer part ( post Spanish Civil War ), has wider streets on a criss-cross pattern.
There is a small supermarket, a corner shop, a pharmacy, a fishmongers, a butchers and an ATM machine. There are three bakers, producing not only fresh bread, but also 'Pastissets de Rasquera', a local speciality ( a pastry usually filled with fruit, or with chocolate or cream ), which is exported to other parts of Spain. There are also craft basket-weavers and a very small street market on Fridays. Good local wine can also be purchased.
There are three bars : Bar de Baix in the lower square is small and dingy inside, but most customers sit outside at the tables which fill the square. In Summer, it is open until 1 a.m.
Bar Marti is on the main street. It is large and basic, something like a social club. The older villagers gather there to watch football on the big screen. WiFi is available here.
La Trobada, which is more modern and has good views across to the mountains, is on the edge of the village at the lower end.
In all three bars, you pay when you leave. They will expect you to remember what you have had and pay accordingly. People are honest and trusting in Rasquera !
There is also a restaurant in the main street and two small cafés/patisseries.
There is a fine village swimming-pool ( open July to mid-September only. ) It is fully supervised, and entrance costs only two or three euros per day.
The local language is Catalan, although the villagers also speak Spanish ( 'Castellano.' ) Everyone will speak to you. The greeting is 'Hola' or ( to the older villagers ) 'Bon Dia' or 'Bona Nit'. They will respond with 'Adeu', ( 'goodbye', but actually 'to God'). Late at night, the greeting is always 'Adeu' ( a-day-oo ).
There are two fiestas each year. The first, in early May, is the 'goat festival', celebrating the days when Rasquera held the regional goat market. Local producers of wine, cheese, honey and crafts also display their produce.
The main fiesta is in early August and lasts five days. It features traditional Catalan music and dancing, ballroom dancing, sporting events, 'correfocs' ( firework displays of a type which would not be allowed in the U.K. Wear old clothes and stand well back ! ) and brass bands ( some at 6 o'clock in the morning ).
Within 30 kilometres of Rasquera there are unspoilt beaches at l'Ametlla de Mar, a fishing town with plenty of small shops and restaurants, a picture-postcard harbour and a many small coves, and at Ampolla, which has an impressive marina and a long beach looking out towards the Ebro Delta. There are several good restaurants overlooking the marina.
On the other side of the River Ebro is Miravet ( 6 kms by ferry ) which features a Templar castle overlooking the river. A tortuous drive into the mountains on that side of the Ebro will take you to the old town of Horta de Sant Joan, where there is a Picasso museum and several bodegas selling the local 'Terra Alta' wine at a euro a litre. However, Falset, on the road to Reus, is the centre for “Priorat,” one of Spain's most prestigious ( and expensive ) wine denominations.
Also visit Corbera d'Ebre, near Gandesa, whose older, higher part, along with the church, was destroyed in the Civil War and left untouched, as a monument to the Battle of the Ebro. There is an excellent new Civil War Museum at Corbera, with another at Gandesa.
The Ebro Delta, some 30 kilometres from Rasquera, in Spain's main rice-growing area, is a birdwatcher's paradise. There is a huge system of hides, with maps and information available from a number of Tourist Offices. The beaches stretch for miles and river cruises, with lunch, are available.
The nearest town is Mora d'Ebre ( 15 kms ), which has a good selection of shops and restaurants, three large supermarkets, a dozen banks, three internet cafes and a hospital which is regarded as among the best in Spain. There are two other large supermarket a kilometre from Mora d'Ebre, on the other side of the Ebro, at Mora la Nova.
For top quality shopping, travel 30 kilometres along the scenic Ebro valley to Tortosa, a small city partly destroyed during the Battle of the Ebro at the end of the Civil War, which boasts a fine cathedral in its Old Quarter and a castle above the city.