Lifestyle Seasoned Traveler the March 2020 issue

Tommaso Lucca’s Spain

Put down the guide book and wander the neighborhoods, where you will discover the real beauty of Barcelona.
By Tommaso Lucca Posted on March 1, 2020

What’s to love >> I first visited Barcelona in 2007. I felt a deep connection and knew immediately that this was where I wanted to live. I loved the vibe. Barcelona is a city made of former towns. Each neighborhood has its own soul and its own architecture. I find it exciting and enriching to visit these neighborhoods, where I can experience different lifestyles and people, and find new places.

Food scene >> First, paella is from Valencia, so most restaurants in Barcelona do not prepare a true paella. The food is amazing here, so there’s no reason to eat a bad paella just because you’re in Spain. We have restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world. Arepas and burger restaurants are becoming popular. We’re moving away from trendy sushi places to more traditional Japanese restaurants that prepare authentic food.

Favorite new restaurants >> I try to go to HaHa at least once a week. It’s a cozy Japanese restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere. The owners make you feel comfortable and ensure that you have the best experience. For lunch I like Baldomero. All of the food is homemade and served on platters and in bowls, buffet style. The pies are fantastic.

Tapas >> My favorite places for lunch are down to earth and perfect for a quick bite. Cervecería Catalana is a Barcelona institution. The variety and quality of the tapas is amazing. Try the grilled mini-asparagus or the tortilla de patatas. The only downside is that it’s busy every hour of the day. I also love La Bodegueta. They make the best jamón serrano sandwich. The bread is crunchy, and the ham is top notch. For an authentic experience, sit inside.

Cocktails >> In the winter, my favorite bar by far is El Nacional (stay for dinner if you have time). In the summer, a terrace is the perfect place to wind down with a glass of wine from the Penedès or Priorat region. The evening sea breeze makes the sunset view even more enjoyable. My top spots are The Wittmore, the Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona.

Stay >> The Majestic Hotel & Spa has the flair of the belle époque period, and for me it’s the classiest hotel in town. I also like The Wittmore. It’s a gem tucked away on a small street in the Barrio Gótico.

Things to do >> Put down the guide book and wander the neighborhoods, where you will discover the real beauty of Barcelona and the cute little bars and trendy shops you’d miss on a tour. The neighborhood of Eixample, filled with modernist architecture, was developed from 1875 onward by the urban planner Ildefons Cerdà. My favorite memorial, Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, is there.

Beach it >> I’m not a beach fan, but our beaches are beautiful. Take a couple of hours, especially in the winter months when the noon sun is warm, to have tapas in one of the “chiringuitos” on the boardwalk and get a healthy blush on your face.

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