I suppose that by now I will have repeated it many times, but the truth is that when I travel to a place, in addition to studying its history, its heritage or its customs, I usually look for authors who have dedicated lines to it. I am used to looking for quotes and literary fragments, not a mere journalistic story. Words that are not available to anyone to combine in a brilliant way, thus resulting evocative and unforgettable.
Here is a first selection of some of them, written by authors as diverse as Miguel de Cervantes or Ramón del Valle-Inclán. The protagonists, some of my favorite cities: Toledo, Ávila, Salamanca, Oviedo or Santiago de Compostela.
A tourist slogan read like this: “Zamora, unknown, perfect.” And that was the one I used as a title in an entry on this blog (click) dedicated to the great Romanesque city. And it is true that Zamora, the well-fenced one, is a complete stranger to the general public despite its enormous historical and patrimonial value. Very relevant during the central centuries of the Middle Ages, prominent political and social conflicts took place in the history of Spain. Proof of its importance is the fact that Zamora has the largest number of Romanesque temples in all of Europe. Almost nothing! That is why it could only be a medieval romancero that spoke of its glories and beauty.
A classic among the classics, especially for those who have visited the city or lived there, is this phrase that Miguel de Cervantes wrote about Salamanca in “El Licenciado Vidriera”, within his Exemplary Novels. We are tired of reading the plaque that remembers it, located in the Plaza de Anaya. But the truth is that I was so so happy during my stay at the University of Salamanca, that inevitably this phrase is one of my favorites. Difficult to escape from so many wonderful memories.
And again it is Miguel de Cervantes who describes in his latest work, ‘The works of Persiles and Sigismunda’ another of my favorite cities in a brilliant way. Toledo! How many times have I repeated how incredible the capital of La Mancha is and how much I love it. Heritage, history and culture on all four sides in this particular city also from a natural point of view, as it is located on a rock bordered by the Tagus River.
Taking a great leap in the history of literature, from the Modern Age I now land in the nineteenth century. Heavy, very heavy I am and will always be with La Regenta by Leopoldo Alas ‘Clarín’, my favorite novel. I dedicated an entry to him in this same series ‘Literature and travels’, entry (click) in which I collected some fragments that accompany my personal literary journey through Oviedo, Vetusta in the work. It is difficult to keep one, since Clarín masterfully portrayed the provincial city throughout the approximately 1000 pages of the novel. The following lines serve as an example.
Few are capable of writing in such an original way as Ramón del Valle-Inclán did. About the places that marked his life and his work I wrote this post a few months ago (click). But now it’s time to talk about the brilliant combination of words resulting in these lines dedicated to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of his homeland, a place of universal pilgrimage and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. History, art, culture, religion, etc. they make Compostela a unique place, and that is how well the Arousano writer captured it in his most spiritual work, “The Wonderful Lamp.
Already in the twentieth century, I am now talking about an author to whom I also dedicated an entry in this same series (click), the Castilian that set the most novels in Castilla: Miguel Delibes. The recognition as a writer came to Valladolid thanks to one of his first novels, “The shadow of the cypress is long.” The work begins by portraying Ávila, another of my favorite cities, one of those in which I lose consciousness due to a kind of romantic ecstasy. Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage wall, the city par excellence of the great Santa Teresa de Jesús, the scene of the cry of the Catholic Monarchs upon burying their male heir, thus changing the course of Spanish history. Ávila de los Caballeros is special for that halo of mystery and sadness that permeates its streets. Oh…