Rio Gordo

Rio Gordo is on the scenic Route of Olive Oil and Mountains, 39 kilometres from Málaga and just under 50 kilometres from the coastal resort of Torre del Mar. It is famous for its Snails! The Day of the Snail is an annual festival where people come from far and wide to sample this local dish prepared from land snails cooked and served in a broth. If you simply can´t miss this event, its held on the last Sunday in May and has been declared a unique festival by the Diputación provincial of Málaga. If you can´t make the festival you can still sample this culinary delight in the village between May and August.Rio Gordo remained under Arab rule for longer than most in the region but earlier settlement goes back to the Phoenicians and Romans.

In the 19th century it attracted local bandits who used the nearby mountains as hide outs. There are two neighbourhoods within the town, Cerrillo, the higher part and La Plaza, with its steep streets of Arab origin. Later editions include the 16th century parish church of the Virgen de Gracia situated in Calle Iglesia. Further on down the same street at number 14, situated within a normal house, is the Ethnographic Museum belonging to Enrique Godines, who has nine exhibition rooms open to the public. There is a 17th century kitchen, a 19th century bedroom, rooms with machinery and tools for grinding olives and making local wine.

There are water colours on loan from friends and Malaga wine barrels exported from Buenos Aires and Uruguay in the 19th century. If you like Easter parades then visit Rio Gordo during Semana Santa, holy week, when over 400 residents become actors during the staging of El Paso, with performances taking place on Good Friday and Holy Saturday starting at 4pm. Since 1951 this Passion play has been performed annually. Set on a hillside with excellent views from all six thousand seats, its reputed to be one of the best Pasos in Europe, re-enacting the life and death of Jesus Christ. The name Rio Gordo (fat river) comes from the heavy waters of the Cueva River, due to the dragging of minerals. Nowadays this Fat River is little more than a stream but on the day of my visit, after the recent heavy rains, it was back to being the eponymous Rio Gordo. Plan the timing of your visit so you can have lunch in one of the local bar/restaurants, you won´t be disappointed!

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