A String of Pearls - Cantoria

They call Cantoria the pearl of the Almanzora but in my view it is only one of a whole string of pearls. Here you will find a scattering of tucked-away, white-washed villages in which time seems to stand still.

Situated 7km north-west of Albox, Cantoria seems a world away from its more commercial neighbour. Protected by the Sierras de Filabres to the west and Oria to the north, the village lies in a tranquil valley, dominated by its fine church. According to Donna González Linnitt from Rural Cantoria Estate Agency, some of the more adventurous British are indeed falling for its charms, enchanted by the cortijo life-style. The Spanish tend to work in the village during the week and move to their farmhouses at week-ends and fiestas.

The marble industry is its greatest source of wealth yet we saw no eye-sore quarries to spoil the view, these being well hidden at the far end of the village. British children now settle happily in the village school, retired couples can enjoy a healthy, outdoor life, with good walking, sports and fiestas. Best of all, for less than 200,000€ you can buy a fully restored, four-bedroomed, two bathroomed farmhouse, together with a plot of land, terraces and outbuildings, and perhaps even with an orange grove.

In Cantoria we enjoyed a coffee in the Plaza de Constitucion while senior citizens played cards in the morning sunshine. Evidently a favourite pursuit. The small town was buzzing with morning traffic although hardly a rush-hour; people chatting; old ladies doing their shopping, mothers and children sitting on doorsteps enjoying the sun.

We took a short detour to Albanchez, a delightful village clinging to the hillside overlooking the rich Almanzora valley. I am told it boasts a fine restaurant but we didn’t have time to linger today to taste its delights, as we were keen to move on to our next pearl.

If you love Spain, you might enjoy my latest book Forgotten Women.

It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. 

But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression. 

Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever. 

Deceit, heartbreak, and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured. 

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Blogs about Forgotten Women and the Spanish Civil War

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