To the North of the isle of Mallorca, through an unpaved road crawling among olive trees, almond trees and locusts, visitors drive into Cases de Son Barbassa, a small rural hotel, a desert in that sense Carmelite monks gave to the concept, in reference to those places far from the madding crowd where they used to retire for praying. It is a wilderness bulging with old stones and legends dating back to prehistory when the first dwellers erected here a Talaiotic sanctuary. This typical ensemble of farmhouses was born under the aegis of a defense tower built in the 16th century with the aim of sheltering the locals against the raids of Berber pirates who back then ravaged the Mediterranean. From its vantage point, the estate, nestled in the Llevant Natural Park, dominates the medieval precinct of Capdepera just a few miles away from the Artà caves and the beautiful beaches of Cala Agulla and Cala Mesquida.
The restyling of the hotel has wisely fused together its primal rusticity and a sophisticated minimalism which respects the medieval walls and makes use of natural materials, such as marble and wood. The predominance of soft warm colours points out the sensation of placidity both in the common spaces and the twelve bedrooms with wide panoramic terraces flooded by the limpid vibrant light of the Mediterranean. A sofa and two armchairs belonging to the Nido outdoor collection designed by Javier Pastor, made in steel and rope, were picked out to furnish one of these terraces overlooking the Artà mountains where the surrounding cycads, lavender and olive trees blend in so fine as to blur the boundaries between the interior and the exterior space. Three couples of Twins armchairs by MUT Design and Plump modules by Studio expormim also seem to be wholly integrated in one of the open-air lounge areas, framed by exuberant bird of paradise flowers, ferns and ficus while those who never left cast a watchful eye on them: the stones that once erected the ancestral Talaiotic settlement.
Legend has it that, many centuries ago, a young sibyl named Nuredduna lived in Ses Païsses d’Artà. One fateful day the inhabitants of Artà captured a party of Greek sailors who had landed at their shores and sentenced them to be sacrificed to the gods. Among them was Melesigeni, a young musician who captivated Nurdedduna with his wistful tunes. The sibyl tried to save him by suggesting the folks that they leave him to slowly die in the nearby caves. Once there she freed him. Melesigeni ran away to let the others know what had happened, but in the flight he forgot his lyre. Realizing the deception, the inhabitants punished Nuredduna. Badly injured as she was, she managed to escape though until she got to the cave where she had left her beloved. And there she died embracing the lyre, while the stones murmured. “For one beat of that yearning with which your heart is expiring / we would give the centuries of calm we possess”. It is said her spirit still wanders around the place, lost in that endless calm of stones and olive trees, of light clouds and salty breeze.