By Di Beach
YOU don’t need to fly to New England for the fall… just take a drive up the Ronda road to the Genal valley.
Here in the Alto Genal, the sweet chestnut trees (castaños) that carpets the mountainsides put on a magnificent display of autumn colours – red, yellow, gold and orange.
The seven villages of my area dot the Serrania de Ronda like a string of magical pearls.
Unique villages, with their own cultures still intact, they have plenty to offer for the traveler looking for a dream escape and some stunning, classic nature.
It is this time of year to look out for the valley’s wine festivals, as well as the chestnut festival in Pujerra and even a mushroom festival in Juzcar.
Meanwhile Parauta is famous for its rabbit and Cartajima celebrates its delicious ‘mosto’ wine.
My favourite autumn/winter treats are the setas or edible fungi.
Some nestle under the chestnuts and other species hide in the crevices in the Riscos, the formidable crags above the village of Cartajima.
Either way, the villagers winkle them out and serve them up raw with scarlet pomegranate seeds, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt.
Now is the perfect time for the discerning culturally-minded traveller to come up and explore.
Or pop up in the spring when you will find a glorious abandon of wild flowers, migrating birds back from Africa, the bright flash of bee-eaters and swallows.
A season of rich abundance it is also a great time for a walk between villages.
Finally, the hedonism that is summer. Each village has a swimming pool, open to all and a superb place for observing local life.
All night fiestas in every village celebrate ostensibly the patron saint but actually are worshipping Terpsichore and Dionysus!
Come visit us at any time of the year. We won’t disappoint you.
- Di runs the charming Los Castanos hotel… see www.loscastanos.com