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Castilla-La Mancha closed 2019 with the best rural tourism figures in its entire history, registering 313,030 visitors, which translated into overnight stays equivalent to more than double, 688,000. The Ministry of Economy reports that this summer, the most atypical of all, hopes to continue breaking records. The third region of Spain in size has in its favor that national tourism is the one that leads the way because of the coronavirus. Hence, 90% of Spaniards plan to spend their holidays within our borders , according to the CIS.

And when the compass looks inland, the north is located in destinations such as Castilla-La Mancha , at the stroke of natural landscapes and charming towns far from the crowds. What's more, the reserves to enjoy a vacation in open environments have grown by 122% in recent weeks in regions like this, where ecological wealth and sustainability are gaining popularity. It is necessary to add "the application of a Plan of Measures by Covid-19 to guarantee a safe and close destination ", as the Minister of Economy, Patricia Franco points out.

Las Tablas de Daimiel, in Ciudad Real.

For this reason, nature tourism gains strength with these jewels: two national parks, Las Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros; seven natural parks (from the Alto Tajo to the Barranco del Río Dulce); six river reserves (such as Sotos del Río Milagro); 48 micro-reserves, 122 natural spaces (from Lagunas de Ruidera, one of the most beautiful wetlands in Spain, at the source of the Río Mundo) and 26 natural monuments after adding the Chorreras del Cabriel (Cuenca). Archaeological sites such as Albacete from Libisosa should not be forgotten . There's more: the Almadén Mining Park or the black towns of Guadalajara.

Cultural riches

On the cultural level, it stands the greatest show of Spain, Dream Toledo of Puy du Fou, facing his second season on stage five hectares to the outdoors. Among the novelties is the appearance among the waters of the spectacular Crystal Palace of King Al-Mamún , as well as 15 Spanish horses that join the 35 already existing. Regarding safety, Erwan de la Villéon, CEO of Puy du Fou Spain, states that "very high standards of hygiene and disinfection have been self-imposed."

The famous mills of Consuegra.SHUTTERSTOCK

The Castilian-La Mancha capital also encourages visitors to visit the new Roberto Polo Collection museum . Center for Modern and Contemporary Art. In addition, the 46th edition of the Almagro Festival, the best in the world focused on the Golden Age , has been confirmed from July 14 to 26 .

Culinary Root, a new gastronomic stamp

You cannot overlook local cuisine, which has a new brand, Culinary Root , "an axis to enhance the attraction of visitors by underlining the richness and gastronomic diversity," says Minister Franco. The ambassadors of this seal are the seven Michelin-starred chefs in the region: Fran Martínez (from the Maralba restaurant , in Almansa, Albacete), Enrique Pérez (from El Doncel, in Sigüenza, Guadalajara), Iván Cerdeño (from the restaurant of the same name in the Cigarral del Ángel, Toledo), Javier Aranda (from Retama, in Torrenueva, Ciudad Real), Jesús Segura (from Trivio, in Cuenca), the television Pepe Rodríguez (from El Bohío, in Illescas, Toledo) and Samuel Moreno (from Molino de Alcuneza, the second in Sigüenza).

El Molino de Alcuneza, in Sigüenza (Guadalajara).

All of them have one star except the first, Maralba, who has two. They are the most visible part of a kitchen with attachment to the earth , but at the forefront, which marks any tourist route. Not surprisingly, one in four visitors to Spain plans their holidays based on gastronomy. For this reason, Culinary Root champions such as Jesús Segura believe that being part of it is "an honor." As spokesperson for the seven magnificent ones, it is clear that the community "has been and is the cradle of great chefs , in addition to enjoying a culinary tradition whose identity is honest, plural and sustainable, which will allow the region to be placed gastronomically where it deserves" .

Its restaurant Trivio is a safe bet, as endorsed by the good reviews received for apparently risky dishes such as its deer tartare with beet sorbet or the pickled níscalos with tataki from the Galician mare. Samuel Moreno (El Molino de Alcuneza) also surprises with its seven types of artisan breads (cheese, beer, dried tomato, spelled ...) made in the farm's mill (hence the name) and with such original creations as the sphere of Manchego cheese and truffle or the artichokes stuffed with marinated ear.

The wine routes of Castilla-La Mancha

In the gastro chapter, the wine universe takes on special importance , with visits to wineries and vineyards on foot, by bike or 4x4, museums, exhibitions, festivals, tastings, contests and experiences for all audiences. Under this umbrella, the Wine Routes of Castilla-La Mancha offer the largest vineyard in the world , with 473,000 hectares, 50% of the total area of ​​Spain. From them come references such as Finca Antigua Crianza Único, the Pago de la Jaraba 2018. Among the best in the world with ecological certification is the Ulterior Parcela 17 Graciano 2016, valued with 95 points in the Decanter contest.

Interior of the winery of Megía e Hijos, in Valdepeñas.

The La Mancha Wine Route discovers the heritage of this region that evokes the figures of Cervantes and Don Quixote , present in towns such as Alcázar de San Juan, Campo de Criptana, Socuéllamos, El Toboso, Tomelloso and Villarrobledo . Compared to that of Valdepeñas , it is full of wineries, large and small, in the urban area or in the countryside, which combine tradition and modernity.

On the other hand, the La Manchuela Route , straddling Albacete and Cuenca, is dotted with charming medieval towns with treasures such as the Alcalá del Júcar Castle, the Cristo de la Vida hermitage or the Iniesta Archaeological Museum . As a colophon, you must go to the Hoces del Cabriel, one of the best kept secrets in the area to escape to during this unusual summer.

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