A black sheet hangs from the balcony of a blue-painted house on the waterfront. In the distance, a ship of local sailors is returning from America, or perhaps the Philippines. One of the sailors looks over the bow and recognizes the blue house from which the sheet hangs. Also the black color which indicates that a member of his family died while at sea.
For centuries, La Vila Joiosa (or La Vila for the locals) has conversed with the sea through objects, houses and myths that today enrich its history. We discover the secrets of this emblematic city 32 kilometers from the city of Alicante that shines between ancient walls, fairytale beaches and colors, many colors.
The city that speaks with the sea
The origin of the colors of La Vila is in its marine origin. In the 16th century, La Vila Joiosa was considered a strategic point in the defense of the coast of Alicante against attacks by Barbary pirates, a reason that led to the fortification of the town and the introduction of different watchtowers attached to old farmhouses . After the cessation of the attacks, the activity of La Vila was deployed outside the walls until it merged with the Mediterranean Sea.
The houses of the first sailors were located facing the beach, but their aesthetics were so similar that the fishermen decided to paint each house a different color in order to recognize their dwelling when returning to the horizon. Seeing the line of colors by the sea, the vilero was able to identify not only its facade, but also the messages broadcast by his relatives through black fabrics and sheets (death of a loved one), or white (birth of a new member).
Many years later, La Vila is a true reflection of its past: just pass through the old town, considered a site of cultural interest, to get lost in the alley Pal, so fragrant with rice dishes, pebrereta and clothes. suspended between the that someone has camouflaged a mermaid’s tail. The hanging houses overlooking the Amadorio River, the atmosphere of Arsenal Street (where you will take this typical photo), or the children carrying unicorn floats every summer. In the old town of La Vila, we renounce the tourist primer to let ourselves be carried away by the nostalgia of its colors, the roofs behind which appears a palm tree, the air conditioners corroded by the saltpetre or a walk to the port.
It is precisely in the fish market that La Vila has in these months deepened new proposals for fishing tourism as a spearhead of its marine heritage. the to visit “From the sea to the table” is the commitment to revive ancient local customs for the visitor through an immersion in the arts of fishing and offshore and coastal boats. After the explanations, the boats are visited to discover the goods of the day and to make the link with their next auction at the auction. As a final touch, the visitor enters the Tennis Club restaurant, where chef Toni Mayor is the perfect mentor for a gastronomic evening.
La Vila has drawn on new proposals for fishing tourism as a spearhead of its maritime heritage
“This proposal is based on the philosophy of fishermen’s wives and their typical What has the sea brought us? when their husbands came home,” says Beatriz Almarcha, project manager. “We bring in the fish of the day that we have previously acquired at the auction to prepare a dish in a spacious kitchen and a relaxed atmosphere.
Toni treats us to two signature tapas and some good wine while we distribute the stalls to prepare the food, usually a typical suquet de peix – a seafood stew -: one person is in charge of peeling the onions, another of cleaning the fish, and while we are going to peck . At the end of the day, we all end up eating what we have prepared.
A project born from the collaboration of the City Council of La Vila Joiosa and the Association of Fishermen as a means of promoting fishing tourism, a trend that allows diversifying the fishing activities of coastal towns and whose growth is committed to reconnect with the past of a territory.
Mediterranean sugar and other gourmet delights
Beyond the peach, there are other shortcuts to La Vila’s past through the palate, its sweet and savory undertones. The maritime activity of La Vila Joiosa was not only nourished by fish, but also by the chocolate trade coming from the routes with Marseilles, Guinea or America, which provided cotton, cigarette paper or pods of exotic cocoa that entered untangle from the port of the city of Alicante. Vila Joiosa was a pioneer in the export of sweets in the Valencian Community as early as the 18th century, although the first cocoa factory did not appear until 1840. In 1937 there were already 29 chocolate factories in the city which distributed their delicacies all over Spain.
The Valor Factory Chocolate Museum illustrates with curiosities cocoa, its manufacturing process or the original wrappers
Currently, we can visit three factories. Chocolates Pérez is the smallest but also the most authentic, as it is the only factory that maintains its artisanal production line with the grandson of the original founder guiding the tours. From here we can connect with the Chocolate Museum of the Valor Factory, the most important. In this temple worthy of Willy Wonka, the visitor is illustrated with curiosities about cocoa, its manufacturing process or even the original packaging of chocolate bars. Finally, we find Chocolates Clavileño, a factory that has been open for more than 130 years around a granite mill, among other traditional items.
However, before visiting these sweet paradises, you may prefer to be at kilometer zero of a gourmet route that begins in the Central Market and its stalls of coca and salted fish. The best common thread of the typical esmorzaretthe Valencian version of brunchconnects with Cantina Gallina, where in addition to its exquisite montaditos, we can take our own purchases from the market so that they prepare it on their hot plate.
To eat, nothing better than a visit to Casa Elordi, another place next to the market where chef Mónica Alfaro delights her guests with proposals such as her mask and musola rice, as well as a selection of pampered menus. . Or succumb to the exquisite cauldron that Jaime Pinet prepares in Tavern 314. Options that invite you to take a break, renew your energies to discover all that La Vila still has to offer.
blue is a feeling
Vila Joiosa is a city of many layers to connect during our visit. From the market, we go through all its historical secrets, such as the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, one of the few examples of a church-fortress in Alicante and built in the 16th century in the Catalan Gothic style.
Simple and symbolic, the church is a perfect reflection of the old framework that can also be appreciated through the remains of its walls, vestiges of the old fortification that sigh today in Costera del Mar street. La Vila’s heritage beats in its historic center, but we can also explore the surroundings of ancient watchtowers, Roman remains and dream beaches.
The Tower of El Xarco and the Tower of Aguiló, examples of 16th century watchtowers, survive as ancient city guides and are the best excuse for a hiking route with a blue end. Or if you prefer, La Malladeta is another excellent route through the village landscape to reach this archaeological site of an Iberian sanctuary that reveals the best panoramic views of the coast.
A walk, the sea that encourages you to take off your t-shirt and as many beaches as there are possibilities. Around La Vila there are coves for all types of travelers and environments: leave early in the morning if you want your little corner in the Racó del Conill, a naturist emblem covered with pines, turquoise waters and cliffs like new springboards.
There are secret stairs that speak to the sea and squid sandwiches at the beach bar in Los Estudiantes cove, where gannets guard the horizon coral. The small cove of Esparrelló, carved out of secret cliffs; Paradís beach, near the Montiboli hotel; or Bol Nou, the most bohemian and dedicated to diving are other recommendations.
If you prefer to stay at the beginning of history, you can always enjoy the urban beach of La Vila Joiosa and travel to the summers vintage of the 60s through irresistible themes: umbrellas that rival the color of the houses, a hammock under the palm trees or a good rice on its terraces. A stroll through the old town, confused like an old sailor, although this time you don’t have to worry about the black color of the leaves or their age-old messages. Returning to La Vila today means nothing but good news.