La vida rural

One of the things I love most about Spain is that in many places there’s still a strong connection to the land, the seasons, and doing things the old-fashioned way. fieldsWhen my sister planned a trip here for the puente de la Constitución, I knew that she, as someone interested in agriculture, would appreciate seeing that part of Spain. So mi chico and I set out to look for a casa rural (cottage) to rent for the holiday weekend that would fit the bill.

We ended up in Pastores, a tiny village in Salamanca province, in one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. The stone cottage, “La Fragua” (the forge), felt like a place right out of a fairy tale. I won’t tell you much more, except that I highly recommend it. You could honestly spend your whole weekend in the house, cooking, reading in the lofted “library,” watching movies, sitting in front of the fire, taking baths… But it’s worth it to get outside for a bit, too.

ayuntamiento ciudad rodrigoThe cottage was about 10 minutes away on a winding, two-lane road from the lovely, walled Ciudad Rodrigo. The town has a really authentic, low-key feel to it and a truly great plaza mayor. There’s also the requisite castle (now a parador) and cathedral, made of sandstone, just like the one in Salamanca, which is only 45 minutes away.

In town we bought some amazing jamón ibérico de bellota, from pigs raised on a farm right next to town, as well as local cheeses from the market, including a delicious cured goat’s cheese. This is one of the best things to do in these towns in western Spain–aside from livestock watching (my favorite roadside attraction is the black piggies rooting around in the meadows, followed closely by any bull under an encina that looks remotely like Ferdinand).

One afternoon we continued south from Pastores towards Robledillo de Gata, where we’d heard there was an olive oil museum. We first climbed to a mountain pass and then descended, on a road with more curves and drops than I’d like to remember, into the valley where Robledillo sits, nestled into the hillside. The museum is run by two brothers who gave us a thorough explanation of how olives were pressed in times past (production stopped in 1976). The press was hydraulic, powered by the little river that runs through town.

This is my finest memory of the trip: walking through the village at dusk, admiring the houses constructed with whatever materials were available (mostly slate or stone), smelling the woodsmoke wafting through the air, and hearing the river flowing steadily along its course.walking

Click on any of the markers on the map to see more information about the area.

1 Response to “La vida rural”

  1. 1 Miki Friday, 28 December, 2007 at 5:54 am

    Wonderfulentry, text and photos!
    I have spent myself, 2 years ago, 2 weeks in a wonderful casa rural near to Ciudad Rodrigo, in the middle of an enormous finca full of bulls and black pigs everywhere, the ones they use for the amzing jamon you are writing about.Your entry reminds me so much of these holidays and I feel now very nostalgic, and as if I should go there again very soon! I have great photos of these holidays, adn I would have loved to post one here in my comment, but well I guess it is not possible.

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