María Vinyals shows As Rías Baixas to the world
Turismo Rías Baixas left a very positive impression in Fitur 2018 with the impeccable presentation of its campaign "Somos historias" (We are stories). Tour operators and the specialised press were dazzled by the moving film projected, and they got to know the province of Pontevedra through the figure of María Vinyals. She was the centre of a presentation where the lively and relaxed dialogue between the president of the Deputación de Pontevedra, Carmela Silva, and the actress Patricia Torres was combined with the projection of videos, large format historical pictures and an interview with Diego Piay, a historian from the Deputación and an expert in the figure of the writer and aristocrat who lived in the Soutomaior Castle.
"María Vinyals was an educated woman who acted ahead of her time and an inveterate traveller who loved deeply her homeland. She knew it very well and admired its legends, its heritage and its landscapes", explained Carmela Silva, who was in the company of the mayors of the cities of Vigo and Pontevedra, among others, and several members of the provincial government. She also highlighted the writer's indomitable spirit, her social commitment, her life, which seems taken from a novel, and her love for the province of Pontevedra.
The audience praised the creativity, the emotive nature and the beauty of the images in the short Somos historias, recorded in 18 different locations, which shows the great value of the heritage of the destination Rías Baixas. In the video, a young woman discovers old images of María Vinyals in the Museum of Pontevedra and, because of them, she gets interested in this female figure and in the province, to the point of feeling identified with this marchioness born in the Soutomaior Castle. The film combines elements of our heritage and beautiful and amazing landscapes of the regions of Deza, Tabeirós, O Salnés, Caldas, O Baixo Miño, Vigo, O Morrazo, Pontevedra and O Condado.
The Soutomaior Castle, María Vinyals' house, which will turn into a museum this year, is one of the key elements of the campaign
"María Vinyals was a woman who, in the late 19th century, could speak five languages; she used to draw and write, travelled around the world and did some other unusual activities as driving her own car, when they have just arrived in Galicia. She was cultivated and charismatic, and there are a large number of documents about her life, ranging from letters to pictures, some of them taken by María Vinyals herself", explained Piay.
Carmela Silva revealed some days ago that the Deputación took a notebook in Guimarães (Portugal) which included commentaries of the people who visited the Soutomaior Castle. It had been kept by the daughter of the doctor Lluria, María Vinyals' second husband. In addition, a copy of the book Rebelión, written by the aristocrat, was found in a bookshop. Up to now, it was believed that there was only a single copy in the National Library.
Soutomaior: a majestis fortress… with a ghost
María Vinyals' history was used in Fitur to highlight the beauty, history and botanical value of the Soutomaior Castle, another of the main elements of this campaign. The fortress was visited by 25,000 people in 2017 and the project to turn it into a museum is in progress. Thus, it will achieve international recognition.
"The stories hidden behind its walls, its amazing gardens and the ideal location, capable of enchanting visitors in any time of the year, are not to be missed. For this reason, we have tried to adapt the castle to new technologies: original didactical materials, suitable for all publics, will be available. In addition, the spaces will be changed through eight audiovisual works", added Carmela Silva.
Moreover, mystery surrounds the castle, precisely after a story told by María Vinyals. According to the writer and activist, there is a ghost haunting the fortress. This is what the president of the Deputación de Pontevedra said in the original and amusing speech she delivered in Fitur. "Fortresses, castles and old houses are usually connected to legends about a ghost. However, we didn't know any story linked to the Soutomaior Castle until, after some research, it was discovered that María Vinyals recorded in her writings stories about the ghost of the castle", the president said.
The box containing tea biscuits and marshmallows made of camellia impressed the vast audience who attended the presentation
And from the castle to the rich heritage of As Rías Baixas, the central element of the campaign "Somos historias". "We have towers, fortresses, archaeological sites, religious and literary heritage, myths and legends… and this year, The European Year of Cultural Heritage, is the perfect moment to pay tribute to this legacy", commented Silva.
The vast audience who attended the act praised as well the gift-box distributed by the Deputación. It consists in a souvenir box containing tea biscuits and marshmallows made of camellia, created by the students of the CIFP Carlos Oroza and the IES Montecelo, both in Pontevedra.
The president of the Deputación de Pontevedra encouraged tourist agents and the media to visit the province. "I'm certain that you will fall in love with As Rías Baixas and you won't be able to forget our food, culture, heritage, legends, our sunsets, and the most beautiful sunrises in the world, the smell of wet earth, the vineyards, stone and water, the cascades, the sea and the rivers, the petroglyphs, hillforts and, especially, our characteristic vitality, hospitality and humour", highlighted Silva, to finally conclude with an invitation: "Come and enjoy the stories with us because, as María Vinyals said, ‘there is nothing in the world which can be compared with the province of Pontevedra, garden of Spain, beautiful heaven in Galicia'".
Three quality Q certifications
At night, in the prize-giving ceremony, Turismo Rías Baixas was awarded three Q certifications which prove the quality of the service. The tourist office located in the Palacete das Mendoza (the headquarters) and the one in A Armenteira won the prize again, while the Turismo Rías Baixas office located in the Peinador Airport was awarded this certification for the first time.