Toro, Spain (29.07.19)

Plonked atop an escarpment 740m high, Toro is a charming ‘manana-manana’ town in the heart of the autonomous region of Castile and León. Exuding bags of classic Castellano character, it offers sweeping views down to the Roman bridge across the Duero River and over the famous valley full of vineyards.

I love the peace and calm of the town. Which, in the Spanish heat, can delightfully drop the pace of any well-intended travel itinerary.

A rich sense of history prevails, dating back to when Hannibal conquered the region in 220 BC. Tripping through the ages, Toro boasts characterful throwbacks from the Romans, Celtiberian and Moors. The town’s famous 1828 bullring is the most stirring exhibit. Recently restored to its former glory, the traditional tile-roofed, whitewashed exterior with well-worn wooden seats (‘tendidos’) and gladiatorial balconies rest in the midday sun as if on standby for a biblical sporting extravaganza.

Like any other sporting theatre of dreams, it is eerily quiet when empty, and no doubt a cauldron of energy when full.

Between vino and cafe hits, and watching the far-from-busy world go by, you can amble through the Old Town streets with their traditional artisan abodes and famous wine houses. It is friendly and welcoming, and I highly recommend it as either a base to explore the province of Zamora, or a town to just kick back, lose the watch and chill in.

If nothing else, the local Toro (DO) wine has for centuries been regarded as one of the finest drops in Spain. Endorsed by the fact that Christopher Columbus stocked up his boat with Toro wine on his westward adventures to discover the Americas in 1492.