ELCHE’S tourism chiefs are celebrating after UK newspaper The Guardian included the Costa Blanca city among the 22 best destinations in Europe discovered in 2019.
The article highlights its cuisine, fireworks on the occasion of its patron saint festival and the Palm Grove, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In the article called “The best travel discoveries of 2019″, a group of travel journalists point towards the Spanish city as having several “hidden treasures”, such as El Palmeral, with more than 200,000 palm trees, and the Altamira Palace.
In addition to the Basilica of Santa Maria, where every year the Misteri d’Elx, declared by UNESCO as an Oral Heritage of Humanity, is represented, and the fireworks display that is launched every year during the patron saint’s festival in August.
The Guardian puts the accent on gastronomy, such as fideuà, “a dish similar to paella, made with pasta instead of rice”, and arroz a banda with alioli, while at the same time exposing the delight of being able to enjoy an ice cream in the Plaza de la Glorieta, in the heart of Elche.
It even mentions the horchata, which has been the star drink of the Valencian community for centuries.
According to the councillor for Economic Promotion, Carles Molina, this is a “recognition” of the work in tourism policy to convert Elche into a reference point for tourism on a cultural or gastronomic level.
The article reads:
“Firework fiesta, Elche, Spain
You’re unlikely to have heard of Elche, in Valencia province, unless you saw a recent tabloid story linking Diego Maradona with the manager’s job of the Spanish city’s Segunda División football team. Perhaps only someone of Maradona’s stature could put this workaday southern city on the map. Because Elche sits outside the gaudy glare of the Costa Blanca’s overheated beach resorts, just far enough inland to preserve its modesty. And it’s all the better for it. We were visiting friends and happy to be led on a tour of discovery. We were even happier that there were more hidden treasures than we anticipated: the Palmeral, a world heritage site of 200,000 palm trees; Altamira Castle, a 12th-century Moorish castle; the neoclassical Basílica de Santa María, home of the Elche mystery play, which was declared a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage by Unesco; and a massive firework display to kick-start the summer festival season.
At a local restaurant we were encouraged to try fideuà, a dish similar to paella, but made with thin pasta instead of rice; and arroz a banda, rice cooked in salty fish stock and topped with a dollop of aioli. A bottle of Marina Alta white wine from nearby Alicante was cheap and delicious. But it’s not alcohol that you crave in the dog days of summer, when even a stroll at midnight is enough to reduce you to a puddle. So we dived into an ice-cream shop on Placa de la Glorieta, where our friends ordered us long glasses of horchata de chufa. And fartóns! The sweet milky horchata – made from tiger nuts – has been cooling people from the Valencia region for centuries. The fartóns were billowy soft finger buns dusted with icing sugar, perfect for dunking. I haven’t been happier sipping a milky drink at midnight for many years.
Andy Pietrasik You can read the full article here.