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Courtesy of Rimontgó
The region around and in particular south of Valencia, all the way to Murcia and beyond, is synonymous with the cultivation of oranges. The most important orange-growing region in Europe, it is also the iconic home of the famous Spanish orange.
Brazil and the US may actually produce more oranges than Spain these days, but within Europe the ubiquitous fruit is still firmly associated with Spain and its sunny climate. Known in many languages as the ‘Spanish apple’, Citrus sinensus is thought to have originated in the tropical climate of South East Asia and to have been in cultivation in China by the third millennium BC.
Developed from the cross-cultivation of the pomelo and the mandarin, the sweet orange is also perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate, and is thought to have reached these parts in medieval times. The orange tree certainly took root in Iberian soil and before long had become so entrenched that it is now a part of Spanish iconography.
Where the regions of Seville and Huelva became known for their bitter oranges, as used in the making of marmalade, the region of Valencia was to become famous for its sweet oranges and mandarins. The majority of the country’s 80,000 hectares dedicated to the fruit are to be found in this region, where the dark green leaves of endless orange groves line the valleys and stretch far into the distance.
The little town of Nules has even given its name to an important variety of Clementine, while the Valencia orange has its origins in California but was named in deference to the city’s unique association with this foodstuff. Though production soon spread to other parts of the world, Spain was by the 19th century the most important exporter in Europe, eventually developing a huge industry that was centred in Valencia and sent much-needed vitamin C to other countries throughout Europe.
The medicinal importance of the orange was recognised in countries such as Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, with their long, dark winters devoid of sunlight. As a result, oranges and mandarins became an important delicacy for generations of children, a treat enjoyed above all at Christmas. The majority of the fruit consumed in this way in Central and Northern Europe not only came from the eastern region of Spain, but was shipped from Valencia as well as a host of smaller ports along the coast.
As a family business, Rimontgó traces its own roots to the orange-exporting business founded in Jávea at the beginning of the 20th century. With Britain as the principal market, it was to form the basis of a thriving business well beyond the Spanish Civil War, the iconic purple paper into which individual oranges were wrapped proving to be a powerful brand that still resonates with the generations that were growing up then. The link first established by oranges between this region of Spain and Northern Europe would later be revived when foreign tourists began to visit and later settle along the Bay of Jávea – with Rimontgó as a common link throughout.
Courtesy of: Doug Lierle, Lierle Public Relations
Another piece of Spain’s high-speed rail network has opened offering a quicker way to travel that will benefit tourists, businesses and the wider community. The new stretch of line links Seville near Andalucía’s Atlantic coast to Valencia on the country’s east coast, but bypasses Madrid so passengers no longer have to change at the capital’s Atocha station.
The journey time on the AVE is just over four hours, less than half that of the broad gauge trains run by Alaris. Passengers from Málaga can catch a high-speed train from the city’s María Zambrano station that leaves at 17.00hrs Monday to Friday. After two stops at Antequera and Puente Genil-Herrera the train arrives at Córdoba Central at 18.00hrs. Here passengers change to join the train arriving from Seville Santa Justa just a few minutes later. It then stops at Puertollano, Ciudad-Real Central and Cuenca Fernando Zobel before arriving in Valencia’s Joaquin Sorolla terminus at 21.12hrs. The return train leaves Valencia at 8.15hrs.
Ticket prices for this AVE route vary from 107€ to 174€, compared to 60€ to 80€ for the slower service. It is certainly the case that travelling on the high-speed train is more expensive per passenger than driving with more than one of you in the car, but it’s important to consider the comfort factor. With an interior that resembles first class on an aeroplane and a speed around 300km per hour, passengers can arrive relaxed and refreshed having enjoyed the myriad views available rather than being cramped inside a car toiling along the highways across the heart of Spain. For business travellers the advantages of being able to work while travelling on the train are obvious, while tourists may enjoy listening to the music and Spanish film channels on offer. Passengers will also appreciate AVE’s commitment to punctuality with far less unpredictability than travelling by road, and less hanging around time than using an airline.
It’s just over 20 years since the first high speed line opened as part of Expo 92 in Seville. Step by step, Spain has built the second longest high-speed network in the world, behind only China. Because of its topography and the long distances involved, each new link in the high-speed chain has to overcome significant physical hurdles at huge cost. For example, more than half the line between Málaga and Antequera runs through tunnels or over viaducts.
Ambitious expansion plans remain in place, with the extension to Granada being worked on now. The eventual goal is to link the high-speed rail network with France, connecting the Spanish system to the rest of Europe and beyond.
To read more about the high-speed rail link, please visit: http://www.renfe.es
Courtesy of: Michel Cruz, Rimontgo
When we were at school, food fights were actively discouraged by the teachers. But then we weren’t in Buñol, where once a year you have to stand up and fight, or risk drowning in a sea of more than 115,000 kilos of squishy, over-ripe tomatoes. They do say that tomato juice is good for the skin…
Buñol is a small agricultural town located approximately 38 kilometres west of Valencia, with a population of around 9,000. At first glance, their week-long celebration at the end of August seems not dissimilar to any other Spanish town’s fiesta with dancing, loud music, fireworks, processions, market stalls and late nights. On the Tuesday night there’s always a huge paella-cooking contest in true Valenciano style. And then Wednesday dawns, the tradesmen cover their shop fronts with protective plastic and it’s Tomatina time!
Banned by Franco but revived in the 1970s, La Tomatina is such an important event in Buñol’s calendar that the town council now supplies the tomatoes. The vibrant red fruit, no doubt ripened even further by its journey from Extremadura, is dumped onto the Plaza del Pueblo in the centre of town. But before the messy fun can start, one intrepid reveller has to successfully climb a greased wooden pole and reach up to a prize Spanish ham. Then you’ll hear the water cannons signifying battle commencement.
Up to 40,000 visitors annually invade the town to unleash their inner demons in what has to be the world’s largest tomato fight. There’s no beginner’s circle for the uninitiated, so here are some words of advice if you fancy your chances:
- If you’re not afraid of looking a bit daft, try climbing the greased pole. It’s open to everyone to have a go.
- Wear protective goggles or hide a rag down your trousers so that you can wipe your eyes when the tomato juice attacks.
Other recommended items of clothing include:
- Gloves (acidic tomato juice can make your hands really sore).
- Old clothes that you don’t mind ruining (tearing other people’s clothes is a no-no but still happens all the time).
- A swimsuit or trunks underneath your clothes will prevent you exposing yourself unnecessarily.
- Shoes that fasten securely but that you can wash or throw away afterwards. Wear flip-flops and you’ll be surfing the slush until they fall off and get lost in the crowd.
- Avoid taking valuables. They’re bound to get lost or ruined! If you want to take photos, get a waterproof disposable camera.
- Squish your tomato before you throw it. This is a fun event not an all out war!
- Don’t carry anything that could be dangerous when accidentally thrown and definitely no glass bottles.
- Looking for a strategic advantage? Stay low to the ground to avoid becoming a target!
- Keep clear of the lorries replenishing the tomatoes - they may think you’re a fruit!
- When you hear the water cannons sound for the second time, your time is up – stop throwing!
The fire engines will hose down the streets but you will need to head down to the Buñol River to join the masses in washing off the tomato slime! Unless a friendly local takes pity on you and splashes some water on your first!
Don’t expect to find a place to stay in Buñol and don’t leave accommodation arrangements to the last minute. Valencia is only a short train ride away and many of the hotels organise excursions to La Tomatina to make life even easier.
The next La Tomatina celebration is on 29th August 2012. Happy fighting!
Courtesy of: Michael Cruz, Rimontgó
There is no firmer confirmation of close commercial and cultural ties between two countries than the number of direct flights between them – and the network of air routes between Russia and Spain is growing denser all the time.
Among the links already established are those that connect the likes of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Madrid and Barcelona, but naturally Spain’s third city, Valencia, could not be absent from this list, so the route was officially inaugurated with the touchdown of the first S7 Airlines jet at the Aeropuerto de Manisas in Valencia on 2 June 2012.
The moment marked the start of a twice-weekly direct service between Valencia and Moscow, thereby bringing a host of Russian cities within a much more convenient two-stage reach whilst opening up the region of Valencia, Alicante and the Costa Blanca to Russian businesspeople, investors, cultural visitors and tourists.
A region such as this, with the cultural and corporate importance of Valencia, and a long coastline well attuned to summer tourism, offers a great deal of potential to Russian visitors, just as access to the Russian market benefits the greater Valencia region. High-speed rail links to major centres such as Madrid and Barcelona add further convenience as they link the air routes to the European high-speed rail network.
The new scheduled flights linking Moscow with Valencia and the Costa Blanca are in themselves a product of the steady increase in contacts between the two countries, but in providing a convenient direct link they will develop the volume of trade and transit further. Already, there has been a notable surge in interest and increase in traffic, and Russian visitors to the region will find it is well equipped to welcome them in style.
This also applies to Rimontgó itself, which prides itself on having both a dedicated Russian website and native Russian speakers in its team who know the local market well but are in an ideal position to provide information, support and advice to potential Russian property buyers and investors.
Courtesy of Rimontgó
Though he travelled far and wide, and was to become one of Spain’s leading exponents of the impressionist genre, Joaquín Sorolla always remained true to his origins. Born in Valencia in 1863, this highly versatile artist became known in equal measure for the landscapes and portraits he painted – in which he recorded not only the faces, dress and social customs of the time, but also many an iconic Spanish landscape.
As a budding young artist absorbing the atmosphere of lively Valencia for inspiration, he was often drawn to the docks, where the detail needed to accurately capture the proportions of ships and convey the mood to the canvas did much to develop his technique. Though he left to pursue his career in Madrid when just eighteen, Valencia and its rugged coastline would always travel with him.
Ever keen to learn more and expand his horizons, the young artist obtained a scholarship that took him to Rome, Venice and eventually Paris, where he was to come into contact with leading artists of the time. These travels through Europe would do much to develop the talent in him and open up new worlds. A pivotal moment in his career came when he returned to the city of his birth to marry Clotilde García del Castillo, a young lady he had first met some nine years before.
Maturing into fame
It was while working in his father in law’s studio that he created most of the portraits that now make up such an important part of his oeuvre. When he next moved to Madrid it was already as an artist of stature whose work was much in demand. This national reputation gradually evolved into an international one, and before the century was out he had featured in high-profile exhibitions in Paris, Berlin and Chicago. Awards and praise started coming his way, and his finest works began to populate the halls of the world’s important art museums.
Though he increasingly returned to landscapes and seascapes populated with nymph-like women and children, highpoints of his career included the portraits of President Taft of the USA and King Alfonso XIII of Spain. Above all, however, he is remembered for the silk-like elegance of his brushwork in paintings of young ladies, as in My Wife and Daughters in the Garden (1910), and the way in which he captured the sights and way of life of turn-of-the-century Spain.
Though already inducted as a ‘Favourite Son’ of the city in his lifetime, Valencia has until now had a remarkably small collection, with most of his work finding its way to France, the United States and other parts of Spain. In recent years efforts have been made to rectify this situation, and the Museo de Bellas Artes in particular has been acquiring a growing collection that is now big enough to occupy a dedicated section of this fine museum on the banks of the former Rio Turia.
Here, among important local, national and international pieces dating from the early middle ages to the present time, it is possible to admire some of the key paintings by Joaquín Sorolla. There is a firm commitment to expand this collection further, in addition to which the regional authorities also recognise the many other parts of the Comunidad Valenciana that together complete his legacy.
A special characteristic of Sorolla was his ability to portray the rich golden light of the region, and particularly the idyllic glow along the coastline from Valencia to Alicante, a region he visited frequently and which now forms part of a travel itinerary dedicated to the sights and places that form such an important part of Sorolla’s life and work. The Ruta Sorolla has in recent times been extended from the city of Valencia to include the surrounding countryside and coastal regions, and now counts almost thirty points of interest where visitors can admire natural beauty, classic architecture and iconically Spanish sights that lovers of Sorolla’s work will recognise from his paintings. These include the coastline of Javea, Cabo de San Antonio and the Palmeral de Elche. Suddenly, you will understand the inspiration for much of his work.
Courtesy of Rimontgó
Berklee College of Music, whose headquarters is located in Boston, Massachusetts, recently announced that its new Valencia campus would be opening its doors in September 2012 in order to welcome students enrolled for the Master’s Degree Programme.
Berklee College was founded in 1945 by Lawrence Berk with the aim of preparing students for a career in the music business. Naturally, in the intervening years the amount of technology available to both musicians and technicians has increased greatly, and Berklee has responded by remaining abreast of all the latest trends.
Now the college is a notable presence in Valencia, based in the superbly futuristic Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, which has been chosen as Berklee’s first overseas venture; no doubt this breath-taking building will provide some added inspiration for the first postgraduate intake.
Apart from the formal Master’s programmes, Berklee Valencia will also offer summer schools and special courses, which will benefit talented students not only from Valencia but the whole of Spain. Berklee’s President, Roger Brown, says: “Valencia was selected for our new campus since not only is it one of the most popular destinations for students in Europe, but the city has a strong musical symphonic band tradition and is also connected to some of the richest musical cultures in the world, including Latin America, the Mediterranean and Europe, making it the ideal location.”
Students will be able to enjoy fantastic facilities at the new college, including the Music Technology Complex, with its state-of-the-art acoustic design courtesy of the Walters-Storyk Design Group, which houses a recording studio, project production studios and technology laboratories. There are also several impressive auditoriums for live performances, seating a total of 1,490 spectators. The Teatri Martín i Soler is a 400-seater theatre suitable for opera performances, including a full orchestra pit and the latest in stage equipment.
Berklee College has produced some illustrious alumni in its time, including Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Aimee Mann, Branford Marsalis, John Mayer and Howard Shore, probably best known as the composer of the scores for The Lord of the Rings. Apart from offering Valencia’s musically talented youngsters a fine education, Berklee College plans to contribute to the city’s cultural life, so there will be plenty for valencianos to look forward to in 2013.
Courtesy of Rimontgó
The mild weather and good facilities make Spain a favourite among the leading teams preparing for the new season. Circuits like those of Jerez, Barcelona and Valencia feature particularly prominently, enticing the elite of motor racing away from the drawing board and factory workshops and on to the track.
It is here that new theories and designs are tested, and the teams’ responses to a whole new set of technical rules and specifications are put through their paces. The racing teams that commit their precious new creations – on which they have been working feverishly through the winter – to the open track, will soon get an indication of just how well they have done in preparing their cars for combat.
In some cases it sparks controversy, as in the case of the new Ferrari F2012, which some consider to be ‘ugly’. Presented at the Jerez circuit, it caused the usual admiration associated with the unveiling of a flaming red Ferrari, but also had its critics. Two-times world champion Fernando Alonso, however, was unfazed about the appearance of the car, as long it helps Ferrari compete for the title this season.
While Ferrari continue to fine-tune the aerodynamics, McLaren and Red Bull carried on last year’s rivalry as reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton went head to head in early testing at Jerez. Mercedes, who actually posted the fastest times, were out with their 2011 model, indicating that the new regulations have indeed slowed the cars down. Rosberg was tyre testing ahead of the launch of the new model, making Mercedes one of the last teams to unveil their 2012 car, after earlier presentations by Toro Rosso, McLaren, Red Bull, Sahara Force India, Ferrari, Caterham, Lotus and Williams.
For Williams it is a pivotal year, as they hope to succeed the worst year in the outfit’s history with a return to success. The ingredients, in the form of the classic pairing of Williams design and Renault power, are certainly there. Meanwhile the new Lotus (last season’s Renault team), has received praise for the stylish way in which its designers have interpreted the new technical specifications. Many regard it to be one of the most attractive F1 cars currently on the track, and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen marked his return to the sport with impressive times in testing at both Jerez and Valencia.
The new season sees a number of new faces in the form of young rookie talent. It’s as you were in the top teams, but Lotus features a new-look line-up with Raikkonen and GP2 Series champion Romain Grosjean. Others newcomers are Jean-Éric Vergne at Toro Rosso and Charles Pic at the new Marussia F1 Team that replaces last year’s Virgin Racing, while last year’s Renault team is now Lotus and last year’s Lotus team is now called Caterham. Spain’s Pedro de la Rosa is one of several drivers making a return to the top flight of motor sport, having secured a place at the Spanish HRT Team.
With the teams beginning to rev up, all eyes will be on the new drivers, the new tyres, the new cars and the first Grand Prix to see how the 2012 season will begin to take shape.
Rimontgó extraordinary life houses
Courtesy of Rimontgó
There was a time when Valencia was linked to the Silk Route. Back in the early middle ages, when it was part of Moorish Spain, the city was an important transhipment point into which silk and other treasures from the East were imported and re-exported to markets across Northern Europe. This trade brought great wealth to the Mediterranean port city, a boon further bolstered by the fact that many of the raw materials brought here spawned an industry of craftsmen, jewellers and tailors whose products sold far and wide.
Later, when the Christians reclaimed the region, Valencia retained its importance as a great Mediterranean port, and under the Aragonese and later the newly unified Spanish crown it continued to be a leading European trading centre. This booming trade made a new class of merchants rich and powerful, a fact that found its expression in the construction of opulent merchants’ homes, churches and public buildings. Perhaps the finest of these is La Lonja de la Seda, or Silk Exchange of Valencia.
Located at the heart of the city, near the Mercado Central, this 16th century edifice represents the power and wealth of the merchant classes and their trade in Valencia. At their apogee they supported the arts and sciences, helping to create a golden age for the city during which it became a leading European centre of culture and knowledge, and a jewel in the Spanish crown. Beside its visual detail and beauty, La Lonja is also significant because it a very late example of the Gothic style; a form of architectural design and construction that had almost died out by the time this building was made, yet which ruled supreme during the high middle ages and enjoyed a glorious revival towards the end of the 19th century – the Houses of Parliament in London being a fine example.
La Lonja is also one of the very best preserved examples of late Gothic architecture, and for this reason, combined with its sheer artistry, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Still used for official functions, the beautifully restored building is popular with scores of visitors and tourists that drop in on a daily basis, but if you’re in the area also seek out the nearby Plaza Redonda.
Especially for those who are sensitive to the ambience of a city, the Plaza Redonda is a place that makes a strong impression. Tucked into a particularly atmospheric corner of the old centre, in an area called Carmen, this little circular square still retains the spirit of the past. Stand here for a while and you’ll just sense old Valencia coming to life again. You could almost imagine stopping the clock anywhere from the 1950s to the 17th century or even Moorish times.
It has the air of a forgotten spot in the city where time has miraculously stood still, but in effect this little round is very much a part of the barrio of Carmen and also linked to the lively Mercado Central. An old late-19th century structure housing old-fashioned lace and textile stalls surrounds the midpoint of the plaza, with its little obelisk monument. This structure casts its shade upon the square and together with its improbably ancient shops and shopkeepers is an integral part of the mix that gives it such an arresting but somehow pleasing feel.
Look up and you’ll see that it effectively forms the courtyard of a recently restored circular building, whose inward-looking ground floor premises now house souvenir shops with a mix of traditional and trendy reminders of your stay in Spain. Fortunately, there are also typically Spanish café/restaurants where you can enjoy a drink or join the locals for lunch. Best are the outside tables, which look out onto the plaza and allow you to ponder its mysterious atmosphere at length – or simply amuse yourself by watching the world go past and spotting the tourists’ reaction to this unlikely and not easily defined attraction.
Courtesy of Rimontgó
Ask most people for their definition of their ideal property and there’s a very good chance that the description will include a swimming pool. Given the vast amounts of money wasted every year on gym membership that is never adequately utilised, a swimming pool can be seen as something more than a sybaritic indulgence.
Swimming is one of the best, most complete forms of exercise and is an especially appropriate introduction for the physically challenged, for whom the idea of vigorous exercise is about as appealing as being set upon by a hive of bees! There are few things more inviting on a hot summer’s day than fierce sunlight reflecting on a rippling pool.
The artist, David Hockney, was so captivated by that very scene when he moved to California in the 1960s that it became a regular theme in his work, as he sought to capture the way the sunlight moved on the water.
Spain is one of the best places in the world to include a swimming pool in your list of requirements, since the weather is warm and sunny throughout most of the year. Also, more homes include pools as standard, so what might seem an impossible dream in northern Europe can very easily become a possibility.
Want to enjoy the beneficial effects of a swim even when the colder winter months arrive? Well, Rimontgó even offers properties that feature indoor or covered pools, so you can continue to exercise even on the odd days when it’s too cold to swim outside.
Seven-bedroom villa with covered pool in Javea Ambolo
Five-bedroom home in La Eliana, Valencia that features a spectacular pool area
Magnificent state-of-the-art six-bedroom villa with heated pool in Chiva El Bosque, Valencia
Five-bedroom family home in desirable complex of Calicanto, Torrente (close to city of Valencia) with memorable infinity pool
Foressos Golf is a bit of a rarity these days; a golf course that is…just that. Not lined with homes or buildings of any description or set within the midst of an urbanisation, this is a true blue course that has rapidly become a player’s favourite. Keen to claim this course built purely for golfers, they have been snapping up the club’s golf memberships.
Built entirely for the purpose of enjoying the sport, Foressos’ location in the midst of a rural area near Valencia is another point of distinction from many modern courses. This spot, at a place called Picassent, is also conveniently close to a crossing point of routes leading to Valencia, the international airport, nearby coastal resorts and commuter towns, and the region’s Ford plant. However, from within the grounds of Foressos these places may as well be a million miles away, for here peace, serenity and the natural beauty of a lush country environment envelope the course in a generous embrace.
Birdsong and greenery are the sensory accompaniments to a game on this course, designed by José Lancero. Rated one of the finest course designers in Spain and still a keen golfer himself, Lancero is also known as someone who designs courses very much with the player in mind. It shows in the course design at Foressos, where inspired details and features add character and present both novice and seasoned players with ample challenges. Lancero has chosen to stay true to Mediterranean vegetation, so it is maquis scrub, cork oaks, pines, olive trees and semi-succulent plants that accompany the fourteen lakes and adorn the gentle slopes and cadences that add to the playing experience.
So far, some four hundred members have enthusiastically joined this golfer’s course. To say that Foressos is a golf club in the pure sense, however, is not to say that its facilities are not up to standard. Indeed, the clubhouse is a stately 17th century Masia, or Spanish country home, that has been tastefully restored and fitted with modern facilities such as a restaurant, cafeteria, changing rooms, pro shop, members’ lounge and conferencing rooms. Though no property development is planned, the course will benefit from ongoing beautification projects and the building of a small but luxurious resort hotel. Rimontgó is proud to have been instructed to offer an additional 200 shares, which have been attractively priced at €15.000. Valid for fifty years, they provide entry to a unique course and offer good longer-term investment value.
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