The chestnut forests of the Serrania de Ronda and Genal Valley, punctuated by tiny pueblos blancos, are amongst the best places to enjoy an autumn weekend in Malaga province.
Most of the province is a mix of pines, evergreen oaks, eucalyptus trees and North African palms on the coast, so there´s not exactly an autumnal feel to the place at this time of year. Yet head out south west of Ronda, you´re greeted by the golds, reds and browns of a warm autumn scene.
The villages of the area reflect a strong moorish past; most of the church towers betray the original minaret architecture and the village houses are squat and tightly packed together in narrow streets.
Each pueblo has a name that looks back to a different millennium when this area was still arabic. Now in the 21st Century, most remain tranquil, offering a authentic glimpse of Southern Spanish country life.
Head to the Benarraba and you´ll find the Hotel Rural Banu Rabbah, perched on outcrop of rock offering a privileged view across the Valle de Genal. Eat in the informal Restaurant, Kabilas, and one can enjoy home made, organic food – the place is part of the “ruta gastronomica de cocina tradicional Malaguena”.
Taking the winding lanes, cut into mountainsides, you can discover more of these ancient villages, like Cartajima, in the heart of the castanos forests
– I love walking the village streets; there is something fascinating for me about the designs of the old windows
and doors and the textures of the aging roof tiles.