Gentle, Green Galicia
Lenguaje de Artista is located on Spain’s far northwestern corner, just above the top of Portugal, due south of Ireland, and due east of Massachusetts (but much warmer thanks to the Gulf Stream). Separated by mountains from Old Castile and Asturias, it is a world of its own, known as Galicia.
Settled by Celtic tribes long before the Romans arrived two millennia ago, Galicia retains many vestiges.
But if you’re looking for a hot, flat, dry, noisy part of Spain, Galicia is not for you. If you’re looking for outgoing, strident city people, or for backward, jolly country folk, you won’t find them here. of its pagan Celtic past, including innumerable legends and superstitions, and a high tolerance for bagpipes.
You will find super Atlantic beaches, many of them secluded, others miles long and crowded in summer. But many Galicians prefer the swimming holes in the region’s hundreds of rivers.
And, like the rest of Spain, Galicia has bustling, modern cities, three of them (Corunna, Santiago, Vigo) with international airports.
And monuments galore, from paleolithic burial mounds and hill forts (castros) to Roman bridges, medieval castles, and Romanesque cathedrals, like the one in Santiago de Compostela, a mecca for pilgrims from all over the world. But no less fascinating are the rustic stone cottages and the stone walls setting off fields and woodlands throughout the entire region.
Galicia also shares the easy-going Spanish lifestyle that tourists and vacationers find so irresistible.
Not to mention the almost religious devotion to good wine and good food, especially local fish, octupus, shellfish, and freshly-picked garden vegetables.
But you won’t find the jagged mountains, the endless plains, or the sepia tones that colour most of the Iberian Peninsula.
Instead, you’ll see a landscape of rolling hills and fertile valleys where your eyes can feast on every possible shade and texture of green, with tiny villages nestling on the mostly forested hillsides, under ever-changing skies.
Ubiquitous vineyards and terraced plots of land keep rural people busy all year round, but especially during the long growing season, at the end of which they make their wine, build their giant haystacks, and store their corn in typical raised granaries called hórreos or canastros.
Sheep, horses, and a few cattle graze nearby. Domestic goats venture into the woodlands to compete for forage with rabbits, roe deer, wild boar, and wild horses. Wolves very occasionally take a goat, and foxes make quick work of unprotected poultry.
Owls, cuckoos, and other birds provide the nocturnal soundtrack, along with dogs, which sometimes bark at their own echoes. But the region is rightly famed for its arresting, total silences.
This is nature at its richest, and landscapes at their finest. But the scale is small, almost toylandish, more cosy and endearing than impressive. The hills are rarely more than 400 m high. You can walk and climb everywhere.
Atlantic squalls ensure plenty of rain throughout the year, but sunshine is far more abundant, and the weather typically changes multiple times in the course of a week, or even of a single afternoon.
Seafaring and Galicia’s tradition of emigration and return have forged a global mentality –even in the remotest rural areas people turn out to be surprisingly well-informed and up to date, and they share with their city cousins a fine sense of irony and humour. Galicians tend to be modest, reserved, even a bit wary. But, almost without exception, they are honest, kind, cordial, and peaceable. They make you feel comfortable. Feeling comfortable quickly starts to feel normal. And Galicia quickly starts to feel like home.