Ronda: the perfect weekend is in the South
We had a wine in an old Trinitarian convent converted into a cellar. We know the romantic story of the bandits. We walk a hundred meters high by the New Bridge. We get lost in its streets and approach some of the most classic restaurants in the city away from tourism that fills its streets every day. Ronda goes a long way and it becomes a special getaway that must be done at least once in a lifetime.
We assaulted the city with the team of Spain Food Sherpas, which show us some of their rounding secrets. In winter, Ronda's field dawns with a thin layer of frost. The puddles are frozen and the summit of the Torrecilla, at almost 2,000 meters high, shows a small blanket of snow. The sun usually shines almost every day, so the temperature raises the flight: even more these days, when the cold season is tiptoeing through the province of Malaga.
A great place to start the day, get warm and enjoy the winter views is the Descalzos Viejos winery, where you can observe much of the Hoya del Tajo surrounded by immense tranquility. This is a project that they have been running since the mid-90s Paco Retamero and Flavio Salesi. Then, both had a unique opportunity to acquire beautiful lands at the foot of Ronda that included an old ruined Trinitarian convent and a generalife watered by a water source located on the farm itself. Both architects and "without any idea of field", as Salesi says, they did not think about it and, in addition, they dared to return to an ancient tradition of those lands: wine production.
So they planted eight hectares of vineyards and, as they grew, they rehabilitated the temple and its terraces to create Barefoot Old in honor of the old monks who resisted there. Today, 18 years later, the facilities are taken care of in detail and the vines give some of the best wines of Ronda. “They are powerful, rich wines. With a small, careful production, which averages 30,000 bottles per year ”, adds Salesi, Buenos Aires by birth and from Rondeño for adoption. "They are the wines that we like," he insists. To them and many other people, since Barefoot Old man sells the six varieties of wines they currently produce in the United States, Taiwan and half Europe. Also to those who participate in the Guided visits along a route whose main attraction lies in the convent's central nave, where old frescoes have been recovered, the barrels are preserved and the excellence of Ronda wines is preached. If you are lucky, you can also find there with the presentation of luxury cars and concerts of bands like Bird or artists of the stature of Chano Dominguez. And you also come across a group of huge vultures that glide over the vineyards, a show that gives you the local nature.
Descalzos Viejos Winery © Nacho Sánchez
This winery is a great way to start a weekend in Ronda, although You have another twenty to visit, since in this city there is the only wine route in the province of Malaga certified by the Association of Wine Cities of Spain. And the wineries are an interesting first approach to the uniqueness of these lands west of the province of Malaga. From Barefoot Old, you also have very close a hidden cobbled road that runs through small farms, charming hotels like Hacienda Puerto las Muelas and cross the Guadalevín river. The same one that saves the famous Tajo de Ronda, which almost at the end of this path you can contemplate in its fullness. In fact, a path even allows you to get close to its base, although the most impressive views are from the main road, when you can contemplate it completely and discover how the small houses look out over the cliff around them almost held in the blue.
A little further on, between slopes and cobblestones, the road finished in the San Francisco neighborhood, which the locals know simply as The neighborhood. A good area to park and prepare the assault on Ronda, similar to what the Christian troops had to do at the end of the 15th century to take the old city. Just approach the huge wall to understand the difficulty of the company they had and, also, to travel back in time to understand the Arabic appearance of the old town of Rondeño.
Hoya del Tajo © Nacho Sánchez
Before crossing the Almocábar Gate wave of Carlos V, the neighborhood offers some spaces of gastronomic interest. Like Seville's Rogelia, which offers homemade pastries, special breads, toasts and coffees in Ronda Sweet Bakery: a small and pretty corner where, in addition, you can put your hands in the dough thanks to the different workshops they organize. A few meters away is Casa María, one of the best restaurants in Ronda. It offers market cuisine and, therefore, their proposals vary weekly adapting to the best product of each moment. There is no letter, but let yourself be advised: from some scallops in pumpkin sauce to veal retinta from Cádiz or grilled asparagus.
After the first notes for the stomach, it is time to go through one of the doors of the wall while still pointing to another place for when hunger returns: Crazy tapas. Located next to the Puerta del Almocábar, in it, you will probably find a lot of tourists, many of them Japanese. And you must call to reserve a table if you want to find a place. If you are one of the people who plan ahead or want to try new things, do it: you can take oysters in Bloody Mary sauce, Three different types of gazpacho, anchovies in vinegar presented in a sushi roll, taboulé, ceviche and a large number of delicatessen with environmental products that, as you say goodbye, will make you stay there all day.
Round © Corbis
To lower the first bites, it is time to begin to know the wide history of this city. The first large building next to the wall is the church of the Holy Spirit, built after the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs in just two decades with a clear appearance of strength: in addition to a religious temple, the building occupied a prominent place in the defense of Ronda and had to finish quickly. In its interior a marble slab is preserved where, says the legend, the horseshoe of the horse of Fernando the Catholic was marked upon triumphant entering Ronda. The narrative also says that, before his triumphant walk, as a distraction maneuver for the conquest, the King sent to change all the horseshoes to the horses so that the Muslims thought that the Christian army fled and, thus managed to deceive them and take the city. If you don't have vertigo, It is worth the effort to climb the church bell tower and further understand its value as a fortress.
From there, continuing along the Armiñán street, a small detour for the small It costs Escalona flows into the Duchess of Parcent Square, One of the most interesting in the city. On one side is the beautiful Town Hall of Ronda, on the other, the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians -typical name rondeño- and, beyond, the convent of the Poor Clares.
However, the side we have left is the one that impresses the most. It's about the Royal Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor, a temple with cathedral aspirations and still retains remains of the original building that was centuries ago, the Greater Mosque of the medina rondeña. Of course, the construction of this temple was done calmly: it took more than two centuries, so its initial Gothic style was completed with the Renaissance and culminated with the Baroque. As a result, a unique place not to be missed.
In a privileged situation © Parador de Ronda
Yes you can get lost in the narrow cobblestone streets, but don't worry because they will always take you to places that are worthwhile. Either the Municipal Museum of Ronda and the Plaza de María Auxiliadora, the Wine Interpretation Center or the Bandit Museum where you can learn about the romantic and tragic stories of The Slot Machine, El Tempranillo or El Pernales. Already on slopes, the minaret of San Agustín, the house of King Moro and the arch of Felipe V lead you to the beautiful Arab baths, from where you know the two old bridges that traditionally served to save the Guadalevín river. Before, of course, they decided that, for bridges, it is better to make a spectacular one. And well they did.
This low zone of Ronda is perfect to verify the enormous work that supposed to build the New bridge, popularly known as the Round Pit. But the best experience is, without a doubt, to go up to your driveway, look out at one of its wrought iron windows and get carried away by the imagination. Are one hundred meters high above the Guadalevín but the feeling of vertigo is here until pleasant. It is over two hundred years old and serves to link the old medina with the most modern city. And before leaving this place, you can't stop peeking at Aldehuela viewpoint, whose views will leave you with your mouth open. The terraces of the Hotel Don Miguel are also a recommended place to have a snack and continue enjoying great views of one of the most international Malaga monuments. Just opposite you will find the Parador de Ronda, a wonderful headquarters for your days in Ronda.
Viewpoint of the Aldehuela © Corbis
A few meters away, the Virgin of Peace street It takes you to another of the great landmarks of Ronda: the bullring of the Real Maestranza de Caballería. Built in the 18th century, the square was inaugurated with a run by Pedro Romero, considered the father of modern bullfighting. There are always tourists there, many amazed to see the busts of Ernest Hemingway, great fan of Ronda and the bulls; Y Orson Welles, whose ashes rest on the San Cayetano estate. Behind her is the quiet Alameda del Tajo, in one of whose ends a concrete platform is raised on the precipice not suitable for people with vertigo. Next to the bullring also begins the best known street in the city: the Espinel Race, which everyone calls Calle de la Bola. In it, restaurants of all kinds coexist with souvenir shops that are the delight of visitors and numerous fashion stores where the flag of Spain is the protagonist. A route that mixes times and traditions, such as when the strident music of Stradivarius reaches mythical ultramarines like the one run by Francisco Becerra's daughters.
Walking around Ronda is hungry, both for the local products they sell in numerous groceries and for the multitude of existing restaurants everywhere. Like those of the Comandante Salvador Carrasco Street, where one of its sections is already known locally as the Round Boardwalk thanks to the usual environment that the six establishments that live there live: La Ponderosa, Los Caracoles, El Retiro, Cervecería Cero Grados, Gastrobar Camelot and the Gin & T Bar. However, it is through the Carmen Abela Square where three of the most recommended establishments for tapas in the city of Tagus appear and little known among visitors. The first of them is him Faustino Bar, a place little frequented by tourists and much loved by the people of Rondeños and Rondeñas. Flemish chairs, a beautiful patio, two floors and bullfighting decoration wrap you to taste classic rations such as meat with tomato or quail eggs. All at prices of another century. Even more if you try one of the best serranitos of Ronda: difficult to match the flavor of this tenderloin, pepper and ham sandwich. They have been doing it since 1986, maybe that's why they have more than the point.
Tuna Teriyaki from Las Martirio © Nacho Sánchez
A few years earlier, in 1969, the Casa Moreno bar was born, known since then as The Lechuguita for one of its most common tapas: a bud with oil. Ask for it, because it is a good way to accompany your beer cane and, also, to overcome the difficulty of choosing between its 72 tapas at 80 cents and six dishes at a few cents more. Do not expect the kitchen a Michelin star restaurant, but dare with anything because you will be right. And let yourself go without prejudice to one of the most classic places in Ronda.
A few steps away there is one of the most recent and most worthwhile tapas sites. It's called The Martyrdom and there everything is a party: it could not be otherwise with a comb like logo and the last name of gastroflamenco bar. The chairs are colored. A lighthouse illuminates the room from the wall where they resonate Estrella Morente, Kiko Veneno, Shrimp or Paco de Lucía. The bars are made of old recycled doors full of optimistic phrases and the showcases show the best: an interesting variety of fresh fish that completes a more than attractive menu at prices that make you want to stay in Ronda. The generous portions of fish are served on brown paper cartridges, as canons mark. And its cuisine tastes like tradition with classics such as juicy and exquisite marinade with fine shells, tasty acedías or interesting choco croquettes. However, the letter is current thanks to proposals that should not be missed. One of them is the Almadrabito, pure oriental flavor and formed by a crispy toast with tuna marinated in soybeans and honey with wasabi mayonnaise. Another, the call Sailor of Lights, a montadito of fresh squid aioli. Its secret is to know the genre well: the Rosado family has always had a fish shop in Ronda, which you can still find on José Luis Ortiz Massaguer Avenue. If it is good, do not hesitate to take advantage of the terrace, located in Las Tiendas street, pedestrian and as central as it is quiet. And if you go on Thursday you are in luck because you can enjoy live flamenco and, yes or yes, the night stretches between palms, heels and wine.
To rest it you can give yourself, why not, a small luxury on your trip: the Reina Victoria Hotel, a recently renovated four-star hotel with almost one hundred rooms, spa and 3,000 square meters of gardens where a great pool is located that, yes, in winter it will be of little use to you.
The Lechuguita © Nacho Sánchez
To end the trip, it is essential to approach one of the groceries that, throughout the Round, allow you to discover the best local gastronomic secrets and that, probably, you will not easily find in other cities. The Queso y Jamón boutique is one of them and La Cueva de Pasos Largos another, where you can find the classic yolks of Ronda (which you can also buy directly at the Las Campanas confectionery, in the Plaza del Socorro) or the sweets they call goyescos, based on black and white chocolate and almonds.
Although further away from the historic center and its incessant tourism, already back to the San Francisco neighborhood, the Trinidad store was born in December 2013. The manager Miguel Ángel Mena, who named his place in honor of his grandmother, who formerly had a similar establishment in the area. It is a small UN of products of the region, where each town has its representation in the form of gastronomic delight. Namely: Arriate liver sausage, Igualeja greaves, Iberian sausage loin from Benarrabá, zurrapa from loin from Benaoján, Payoyo goat cheese from Villaluenga del Rosario, honey from Grazalema or oil from Estación de Gaucín, among many others. In addition, jams, legumes, spices, brandy, mistela and, of course, Ronda wines such as Six + Six of the Chinchilla wineries or the so-called Perezoso, of the Gonzalo Beltrán wineries, as well as Andresito, of the Fontalba Capote wineries, in Almargen. Unbeatable options to continue tasting Ronda and its surroundings when you return home. If you come back.
The Trinidad Store © Nacho Sánchez
Goyescas Cakes © Nacho Sánchez