Dame Judy at Lemon pie. | Rachel Sterling

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Film production is a growth industry on our island and we are all aware of Palma Pictures. Their trucks and canteen food vans are a familiar sight. There are times here in the Valley where one film crew after another take up daily space in our car parks. Filming as a spectator sport is hugely enjoyed here.

Especially if it is happening near a bar where spectators can drink coffee and beer while they watch. Many enjoy the ringside seats.

We are often asked the names of the Films and the actors taking part and we then have a problem. Filming is being done on a huge scale for Netflix and the dialogue is in different languages. There is every chance that a local person would not subscribe to Netflix or understand the language spoken.

We live our best lives, we celebrate local and meaningful fiestas which are produced by local people

The fact that we are told the name of the film becomes academic. Because there is little personal ongoing connection the experience is considered fun on the day and then promptly forgotten.

Unless, that is, Judi Dench comes to call. Dame Judi was filming in Majorca last year and did a little sightseeing when she wasn’t filming. Lunch in Puerto Soller with actor friends was followed by a trek to Lemon Pie Tearooms. She posed for pictures with the owners and chatted amiably to anyone who stopped to talk. She left the Tearoom with the newly published ‘Soul of Soller’ book under her arm and was everyone’s best friend. We all loved Dame Judi on that day.

The problem with being a regular film set is that some of our visitors arrive seeing us in that way. Our fiestas become a Disneyland production for them and reality of small town Soller life is not in their consciousness. This is not a criticism, it is just a fact of life when they see us so often on their televisions or big screens.

Winter sun

As the quiet season comes to an end the staff returning to their work in hotels and restaurants become actors on the Soller stage once again, as they know what is now expected of them. We all fly the flag of ‘corporate Soller’ and do not want to let the film set, or our own, brand down.

Tourism and fiestas

Everyone here who has a modicum of understanding knows that the Soller Valley thrives and survives on tourism. We are what we are because of the beauty nature bestowed on us making it a glorious place to visit. The contribution and enhancement of the experience comes from clever people doing their work well, but we didn’t invent the mountains, beautiful beaches or the sun.

We are what we are because of the beauty nature bestowed on us making it a glorious place to visit

Thousands are making holiday plans right now and Sollerweb are busy with all our tourism colleagues, answering questions. One question I received this week was ‘Can you organise a first class box with high end refreshments to view the Soller Firo in May 2022?’ This is a challenge which I cannot rise to. Firo is a local fiesta of many parts and is a participatory event for local people celebrating their history. I, maybe, could ask friends to use their balcony, overlooking the square, but they are very likely to say no. It will be filled with their own local friends having fun together.

Carnival is the first fiesta we are likely to see at the end of the month. Local schools and organisations will be having gentle competition with each other over which has prepared the best float. This is not a Disney corporation event and never will be. Yet this is what some of our visitors expect.

“We are not”

What I am describing is managing the expectations of everyone who comes to spend time here. At heart the Soller Valley is comprised of 14,000 people (approx) who live and work here. We are an amalgam of Majorcans and Spanish speakers from all over the world. In amongst that are about 2000 of us who are English speakers and have chosen to live here.
A Film Set on a day to day basis - we are not.

A Film Set on a day to day basis - we are not.

An amusement park with a year’s worth of fiestas – we are not. We live our best lives, we celebrate local and meaningful fiestas which are produced by local people. We welcome everyone who wishes to share this with us and we love it when you return every year.
We look forward to welcoming you very soon in 2022…