The rain in Spain stays mainly in…

What do Severo Ochoa (Nobel prize for medicine) and Fernando Alonso (formula 1 racing driver, world champion) have in common? They were born in Asturias, a part of northwest Spain really worth a visit!

Last summer, I took a trip to Asturias for the first time and I have felt a strong connection with this land ever since. I visited one of my favourite cousins, who had moved from a vibrant European city to a small Asturian town. As a city girl, I was eager to know how she could change the excitement of the city for the land of cheeses and cider. Now I know!

Asturias is just stunning! It has amazing golden sand beaches, a picturesque countryside, and lakes where the cows are allowed to live freely. One of the things that stroke me the most is how the region reminded me of Ireland and Scotland because of the rain and the landscapes that rain creates. Another aspect in common between these three lands is that they play bagpipes. And another remarkable point is asturianos drink cider, whereas in the rest of Spain, people usually drink wine or beer.

Asturian cider is served in a very peculiar way called escanciado. As it is a tricky technique, you can buy a special machine that does just that!

Escanciador de sidra
Escanciador de sidra: Our skilled barman serving us some sidra. He had to pour very little cider every time, so, he came around to our table every few minutes.

Besides countryside and beaches, cheese and cider, there is a nice architecture, as many people from Asturias migrated to the West Indies and, after coming back to their homeland, they built many modernista villas. You can still admire the houses owned by the indianos in many of the big Asturian cities. But if you’d rather see something more picturesque, I recommend looking for an hórreo. What is it? It’s a granary found in the Northwest of Spain, but also in different Scandinavian countries. Asturian people have been building hórreos since the 15th century, and I love the fact that, even now, when someone builds a new house there, many people build an hórreo too.

Hopefully, I will go back to Asturias soon. I can’t wait to seeing my lovely cousin who, by the way, is having a little Asturian baby in a few months! I won’t go there for sunbathing on the beach, as I prefer the warmer waters of the Mediterranean sea. I could go there for the charming cities, Gijón, Avilés, Oviedo or photogenic Llanes, but I will really go to find a land with people with a natural and unique character.

Puente de la Victoria

Puente de la Victoria

The bridge at Cangas de Onís, with a reproduction of Cruz de la Victoria. The cross has an alpha and an omega, the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. They symbolize the beginning and the end. Legend has it that the original cross was held by King Pelayo in the battle of Covadonga, the starting point of the Christian Reconquest of Spain. It is now a symbol of Asturias and part of the Asturian flag.

Read more:
Getting lost to find yourself: Greek history in Barcelona
Cafe culture in Buenos Aires
Sketching the world, one city at a time

About the author

Marta Garcia
Marta Garcia grew up in Barcelona, Spain, and has also studied in Belgium and the UK. She works as a professional translator, translating English, French and Italian into Spanish and Catalan.
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  • I really enjoyed reading this – I visited Asturias a long time ago, so it was a nice reminder. I seem to remember there were mountains as well, is that right?

  • The land of cheeses and cider? what’s not to like!!?? I have the feeling I’d be very happy there too haha! Loved this article, it makes me wish I was there.

    I bought a bottle of El Gaitero cider (it’s from Asturias, right?) from a supermarket in Buenos Aires last summer. It was crisp and dry, great for warm weather. There wasn’t an escanciador around so we just poured it :)

  • Cristina

    The best of Asturias is its Nature: European Peaks and the forests of the West (Muniellos and Somiedo). For the first one it’s necessary to book before, the only admit about 20 people every day. The deserve a visit.

    P.S. I was born and I live in Asturias.

  • Thank you for your comments!
    LIz and Cristina, I was only there for a few days, but I agree nature’s impressive in Asturias.
    Ana, guess what, there’s a tiny Argentinian shop here in my area, I must go and ask if they have alfajores :)

  • Marta, I can send you a recipe for alfajores de maicena (made with corn starch.) See if you can find dulce de leche in your area.

  • Actually, you’ll find many recipes on this website: (The recipes are in Spanish, sorry folks! :) :) )

  • Thanks for the link, Anna!