Some academics affirm that this is that place in La Mancha whose name Cervantes he did not want to remember. They do so based on a “Cervantes delay system” that calculates distances and travel times. The most romantic add fuel to the fire by pointing out that the writer did not want to mention Villanueva de los Infantes for being the place they frequented Quevedo Y Lope de Vega, the latter staunch rival. Be that as it may, the capital of the Campo de Montiel region (Ciudad Real) is a place steeped in history where everything revolves around the illustrious figure of one of the greatest representatives of the Golden Age of Spanish literature.
9.30. Sweet start
A day that starts with a sweet is a good day. And if that cake has a history, the day promises great. Providence (Cervantes, 4) (1), founded in 1885, is famous for the alfonsinos: a round sponge cake with a thin layer of pastry cream. Pedro López, fifth generation of pastry chefs, says that his grandfather, a cook at the Royal Palace, prepared it for King Alfonso XIII when he invited him to one of his hunts. They are so exquisite and famous that personalities of all kinds have passed and continue to pass through here: politicians like Adolfo Suarez to actors like Emilio Gutierrez Caba.
10.30. Among noble buildings
In the Main Square let’s go straight to the tomb of Francisco de Quevedo. His remains are hidden within the church of San Andrés (2), who finally rest in peace when they are ruled true in 2007. As a curiosity, look at the organ that they have brought this year from Northern Ireland, so large that it covers the rose window. Quevedo died in the Santo Domingo convent (3) in 1645, where you can visit the cell in which he spent his last days, which preserves his bed and his desk (one of its drawers hides a secret compartment, find it!). The House of Studies (Saint Thomas, 39) (4) It used to be a college where classes were held around its covered patio; now houses a “scientific circuit of verifiable facts” about The Quijote, which argues that this place in La Mancha is Infantes and not Argamasilla de Alba. Curious is also the Alhóndiga (5), where in the 16th century cereals were bought, sold and stored, and which in 1719 became a prison, until in 1976 it was closed and today it is the Cultural House. Do not leave the town without visiting a typical two-story manor house, with its cave, hallway, rectangular patio and wooden balustrade, such as the Casa de la Pirra (it belonged to a knight of the Order of Saint John) (6) or that of Knight of the Green Overcoat (in which Cervantes was inspired to describe one that appears in chapter XVIII) (7). The latter is at a crossroads where each corner is a noble building, which complete the Melgarejo palace, the vicarage of the Order of Santiago and the House of the Marquis of Camacho.
13.30. Porreta, asadillo and pipirrana
When you taste them, you will understand why the cod bites from Square (8) they are compared with the mythical Madrilenians of Labra House. A smooth, light batter so rich it makes a serving run short. Reserve space to taste in The Parador (King Juan Carlos, 3) (9) a selection of the most representative food from La Mancha. Try the porreta (lamb brains scrambled with spring onion), the Infantes asadillo (roasted peppers with cumin), the Manchega pipirrana (local onion, tomato, tuna, hard-boiled egg) and, of course, the cheese.
16.00. Through the Campo de Montiel
It is worth exploring the surroundings of Infantes and discovering something more about Campo de Montiel. Just five kilometers away the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Antigua (10). Already in the 12th century in this baroque church the patron saint of Infantes was worshiped, although the Romanesque carving of the Virgin that is inside is from the 13th century (and her vestments from the 18th). More modern is the exterior façade, with its double balustrade, columns and semicircular arches, as well as the spectacular stone masonry patio. A few steps away, always close to the river Jabalón, awaits the Jamila archaeological site (11), whose origin dates back to Roman times. It is one of the 40 places that the Military Order of Santiago repopulated in the region during the Middle Ages.
18.00. Visit to the Vatican of La Mancha
A San Carlos del Valle (12) it is known as the Vatican of La Mancha. It is a small town about 28 kilometers from Infantes, and owes its nickname to its Plaza Mayor and the church of Santísimo Cristo del Valle. Attracted by curiosity, anyone who visits Infantes drops by to admire this little architectural gem from the 18th century. Majestic and imposing, this baroque church rises in the middle of the rectangular square that was later built to represent theatrical works; hence its double gallery, with a wooden balustrade and Tuscan columns. If you want to recharge, try a toast (salty toast) in the Hospedería Santa Elena.
21.00. Hunting memories
José Antonio Medina grew up in what is now the Coto de Quevedo hotel (13), where his father organized hunts and his mother cooked. From them he inherited hard work, the soul of a great host and a passion for cooking. This mixed with his desire to innovate led him 11 years ago to expand the rural house and build a fabulous restaurant whose menu is based on family recipes, but with a succulent modern touch. A proposal that this December won its first Michelin star. As a good manchego, game dishes are very present. If you don’t know what to choose, try a little of everything with their tasting menu. Another option is to spend the night in Villanueva de los Infantes, discovering what it was like to live in an old manor house. Los Girones Pacheco (14) it is a stronghold of peace with more than 400 years of history and only six dwellings; Its interior patio full of relics of the family of María, its owner, is a perfect alternative to dine with local products that can be bought in the center of the town (Manchego cheese, pisto de la tierra, a tender loaf of bread and, certainly one of his many wines).
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