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It’s Ibiza, but without a foam party or international DJ in sight: discover quieter sides to the Balearic island

The White Isle has a reputation for big nights and banging beats, but there’s a quieter, more Iberi-centric side of this Balearic Island to discover, from the locally made drink to championing the native farm breeds, and from secret coves to traditional fishermen’s lunches created with catch straight from the sea. Come for a slow tour of the other Ibiza and see if you don’t get hooked


Words JESS COLE @coleywole Photographs ANNAPURNA MELLOR @annapurna


Wander the historic streets of Ibiza Town, a place where old and new provide the perfect counterbalance

A BLACK CAT PICKS HER WAY NONCHALANTLY along the old city walls of D’Alt Vila. Below her, a row of clothes sway on a rooftop washing line in the afternoon breeze, the fresh scent of laundry mingling with the fragrance of mock orange blossom. Seagulls and swallows swoop between roofs for insects, shrieking over the sound of surf. The higgledy-piggledy white houses in the ancient heart of Ibiza’s largest town ply a booming trade in shabby chic: crumbling brickwork and woodworm-struck doors framed by peeling paint borders of mustard, burgundy, dusky pink. Plants trail from rusting iron balconies. There’s an echoing slap of shoes on cobblestones punctuated by laughter as children play some streets away. A dog barks. Beyond the walls, masts bob in the harbour, jostled by the bow waves of a ferry.

The quiet serenity of Ibiza’s old town is beguiling. But by Phoenicians, the island’s wealth in salt and its strong strategic position made it a sitting duck for attacks, each of which left a lasting footprint. There have been defensive walls here for centuries; those that stand now were built by the Catalans 500 years ago to protect against Turks and marauding pirates. The town’s warren of meandering streets correspond directly to the blueprint of the souk that thrived here after Arabs conquered over a millennium ago. Today, its small courtyards are peppered with shops, bars and cafés. At one, a group of friends recline on white beanbags, sipping Aperol spritz. From the town below, the sound of club beats drifts up as nightfall draws closer.

The 16th-century ramparts in Ibiza's D'Alt Vila (old town) took over 30 years to build and were paid for by the church, the crown and the sale of salt

Today, Ibiza is in demand as much as it ever was, but its appeal isn't salt or imperial power: it's hedonism that pulls the faithful like a magnet. World-famous DJs regularly command crowds of thousands at parties each summer. Ibiza Town's Pacha, one of the island's most famous clubs, was also its first. Opening in 1973, it heralded a new age for Ibiza: of glamour, rich hippies, celebrity and decadence. Pirate ships no longer plague these shores, but among the hundreds of masts in the harbour, gleaming super-yachts dwarf their neighbours. Their owners pay up to €20,000 per night to moor here. The town no longer needs its defensive walls. The spirit of tolerance and diversity is celebrated with zeal -attitudes of which chef David Reartes is both a —? beneficiary and proponent. Himself an import from Catalonia, he opened tapas restaurant Re.Art in Ibiza Town last year. 'I take my inspiration for dishes from the world,' says David, chopping herbs in the restaurant's open kitchen. 'I have a lot of respect for the cuisine of Ibiza, but I'm not from here. Locals do it better th anyone else and it's not my place.'

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - September 2018
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