Priego de Cordoba - by Don Harris
We have always enjoyed the delightful pueblos blancos, or white towns, of Andalucía. Although they share many characteristics in common, each has its own character and style. Our quest for fine artisan olive oil led us to Priego de Córdoba - one of the region's little gems. Surrounded by ancient olive groves, it is situated at the foot of the highest mountain in the province next to a Natural Park of the Sierra Sabbética. It is a peaceful place to while away a couple of days.
Priego's dazzling white houses, flower decked windows and tiny winding streets date back to Moorish times, as do the fortifications of the Palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli in the center of town. There are also elegant 17th and 18th century mansions to enjoy, which were built when Priego was the center of a thriving silk industry. Its textiles were prized throughout Europe and America.
One of the most splendid sights is the Fuente del Rey. This spectacular fountain has a total of 139 jets spouting natural spring water from the mouth of the same number of masks! During this period of prosperity they built several churches which are masterpieces of Andalucían Baroque architecture.
While visiting Priego you might sample its noteworthy chorizo, home-made morcilla, fresh goat cheese, several Moorish sweets and their artisan dark chocolate that is loaded with almonds. Most of all, this is an opportunity to taste extra virgin olive oil at its finest.
During December and January you can witness the olives being harvested and turned into olive oil. If you plan to be in Priego at that time, and speak Spanish, we would be glad to contact our good friend Fermín Rodríguez and let him know you are coming. He would love to share with you a taste of oil the very day it is pressed. It is a delightful culinary experience you will long remember.
"Just returned from 3 weeks in Andalucia -- two weeks among the olive groves near the small town of Fuente Tojar, near Priego. We enjoyed the beauty of Priego and an exceptionally delicious lunch at El Aljibe in the old town (barrio de villa). We were fortunate to be able to see Fuente Tojar's San Isidro procession and unique men dancers."
Joyce Falk, Santa Barbara, Calif.