Andalusia is a joyful region of extremes, rich in history, culture and gastronomic treasures. In towns and villages the narrow streets pulse with life and after dark sounds of music and laughter drift into the air. The shades of Bizet’s Carmen and Rossini’s Figaro lurk round the corner and many of the local young men seem to be inspired by the legendry Don Juan.
The Romans established Italica, just a few kilometers north of Seville in 206 BC and the emperors Hadrian and Trajan were born here. Scipio used it during his Second Punic War against Carthage and we can still see stretches of the original Roman road, the Ruta Baetica. The great mosque-cathedrals were built on the site of Roman temples and the Roman bridge in Cordoba reminds us that great quantities of olive oil were shipped to Rome from Cordoba along the Guadalquivir river.
The Moors ruled here from 8th to 15th century, attracted by the great natural beauty. Their architecture dominates the cities and their hedonistic life style has left its mark on everyday life today. The moors were driven out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella and the young Muhammad Xll also known as Boabdil, surrendered the Alhambra in 1492. As he went into exile, sitting on a rocky hill he wept as he looked back at his palace. His harsh mother supposedly said, “My son, do not weep like a woman for what you could not hold as a man.!
In around 1425 the gypsies arrived from India with their unique life-style music and dance. When the religious tolerance began to disappear the gypsies were persecuted along with the Jews and Moors and they started to live together in caves and rocky, unpopulated areas. This was to become the origin of flamenco.
In April next year I am taking a small group to explore the history, culture, food and wine.
Preliminary Programme for Andalusia, Spain 16 – 24 April
4 nights in the Santa Cruz area 16-20
Market visit with tasting
Special Tapas evening
2 cooking classes
2 special dinners
Optional flamenco show.
Optional full day visit to Jerez la Frontera and Sanlucar de Barrameda to visit sherry and manzanilla bodegas and see the dancing horses at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.
There will be time for private exploring.
1 night 20-21
The Caliphate of Cordoba ruled Andalusia for more than a century and we shall stay very near to the lovely Mesquita, built as a mosque in the 8th century, now the Cathedral . The historic centre is a World Heritage site and we shall explore the labyrinthine old Jewish quarter, La Juderia. Cordoba has some enticing dishes to be sampled with a few glasses of montilla so will enjoy a dinner with local specialties.
2 nights 21-23
This is a UNESCO World Heritage city and we will stay in the lovely Parador, a former 16th century palace. While we are here we will visit Jaen and Baeza,, famous for its lovely olive oil and Renaissance buildings.
Olive oil tasting, tapas and two memorable meals.
1 night 23-2
Unesco World Heritage site. Private visit to see the Alhambra with lunch in the Parador San Francisco.The Albaicin quarter for tapas and shopping.
Price 2750 euros for 8 nights, 8 main meals, 2 cooking classes, 4 bodegas and wine tastings, market visit with tastings, 2 tapas evenings.
If you need a shorter programme please get in touch. There will be a four day extension to Marrakech at the end. Please ask for details if you are interested.