Alessandro Allegro & the Bike Across Spain
¡Hola a todos!
It’s Alessandro Allegro here! I’m hoping you are all enjoying the great weather as I have over the past few weeks (!). I was just recently in Andalucia visiting my family and have been biking a lot in Northern Spain. I’m sure many of you have been feeling Spring knocking on your door. Spain is a wonderful place to visit and – as with many European countries – every village and town has a unique history to it.
This year, I’m pleased to be leading Ciclismo Classico’s unique Bike Across Spain itinerary as my Top Guide Tour. Only Ciclismo Classico offers this departure and I’ll be leaving home shortly to put the finishing touches on this special tour. It is a beautiful itinerary leaving Catalonia, crossing Navarra and Aragona and arriving in the Basque country. It is one epic journey and here is what makes it so special:
Aínsa and Plaza Major
Don’t think that if you’ve seen one piazza you’ve seen them all. The broad, cobbled main plaza in Aínsa is 80 meters long. Beautiful houses and stone arcades line its sides, making it one of Spain’s finest. In the 12th and 13th C., it was used as the public market but today is home to many cafés and restaurants. No plaza would be complete without a magnificent castle, and Aínsa has one. Built between the 16th and 17th C., it once held the seat of government of Sobrarbe. Aínsa has its festivals too. Every two years, in September, the townspeople reenact, ‘La Morisma:’ the battle of Christians and moors during the 8th C. This square is also filled with the melodious sounds of Aínsa’s music festival each year.
It’s difficult to think about Pamplona and not consider Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Imagine yourself sipping wine in the main piazza as part of that same Lost Generation! Pamplona is a modern town. Its university students, tapas bars, cafés, and contemporary art museums make it a diamond in Navarra’s heritage. One of the most impressive secrets to Pamplona (besides the bull ring) is the Cathedral of Santa Maria. Built between the 12th and the 13th C, the neo-classical facade hides one of the most astonishing cloisters of Europe.
The Garrotxa National Park
West of Catalonia lies some dazzling countryside. Imagine Banyoles: a peaceful and quiet lake-side village, site of many events of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. From this paradise, we climb up into an extinct volcanic park call the Garrotxa. The striations of basalt, laid over hundreds of thousands of years, are visible as we gain elevation. In the distance, some twenty-odd extinct volcano cones, covered in lush green trees and flora, rise up towards the heavens. This is more than a bike ride: this is time travel.
Leave the Toppings at Home
If you are into new flavors, you’ll need to taste the anchovies from L’Escala. considered some of the best in Spain (if not the best in Europe) these little fish will completely change your mind about how your uncle used to eat his pizza. In L’Escala, I’ll take you to a very special restaurant where only the best anchovies (and sardines, and mussels…) are served. Your mouth will never be the same again!
Basque in the Glory!
The Basque Country is one of those regions you don’t hear a lot about, but you should. Located in the extreme northeast corner of Spain, the Basque language is derived from the original pre-Indo-European language that migrated out from the Fertile Crescent. Hence, it is the oldest language in Europe. A people locked on the coast, the Basque are excellent fishermen and shepherds, and the biking is astonishing. The restaurants in the Basque Country have more Michelin stars than France. This is a world all to itself and it’s a thrill to end our tour here in Hondarribia: a small fishing village with beautiful architecture and delicious restaurants. It is one of the two primary foodie towns in Basque Country (the other being San Sebastian).
I am excited to be guiding this special departure through the lesser-traveled regions of Spain. If you are looking for electrifying biking, this trip has it. Food? Yup, it has that too. There is no lack of cultural or historical components either. The Bike Across Spain has it all and it can be only found here with Ciclismo Classico.
I wish you all good health this year. And I hope to see you on the road next to me in Catalonia, Navarra, Aragona and Basque Country, Spain! Sign up today!