Excited to Visit Asturias – Past, Present and Future

by Last updated Nov 13, 2018 | Published on Jul 19, 2016Asturias, Europe, Spain, Travel

I’m so excited to visit Asturias, that I just had to write about it. You know that giddy feeling we got as kids? The one that has you doing silly things? Yeah, that pretty much sums up how thrilled I am to visit Asturias. Because you see, it’s not the first time for me. Yet each time is magical, like it is the first time. It’s very special for me so I think the stories that come from this visit to Asturias are going to be pretty inspiring for you and your travels too. Don’t believe me? Let me give me the low-down on why I’m not only excited to visit Asturias – I’m so thrilled to return.

Visit Asturias, Once Upon a Time

My story with Asturias starts…I was going to say that it starts back in 2012. But I’m realizing that it goes back even farther. Once upon a time, Rafael del Riego was my 4th great-uncle, alive and living in the tiny village of Tuna. He became known as General Rafael del Riego, a general in the Spanish Army during the 1820 revolt and restoration of the Constitution. Today, the house he was born and raised in, has a plaque commemorating it to his legacy.

His story is a fascinating one. Not only was passionate about securing Spain’s democracy, but he was also a traveler. After a second time being captured by the French in 1808, he was released and spent some 5-6 years traveling through England and the German States until he returned to Spain in 1814.

Above Image – The plaque located in the town of Tineo, Asturias.

The more I’ve been learning about this ancestor of mine, the more I think about the parts of his life that are not as well known. Those years that he was gone from Spain intrigue me. My boyfriend Eric does love to say that I ‘speculate’. And speculate I do, about how that time traveling influenced his political and moral views, his perspectives on the world and his life at that time. I think it says a lot that he eventually returned to Spain, not only to return home, but more so to take up arms and stand actively in defense of his country’s democratic formation and progress.

Above Images – (Left Image) In Tuña in Asturias. (Right Image) In the center of Oviedo, capital of Asturias.

Generations later, my abuelo (grandfather) Don Jose del Riego, was born in the small village of Tineo, very close to Tuna. He grew up in Madrid’s city-center and eventually became a lawyer and then fought in the Spanish Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. There are many adventures, hair-raising and life-inspiring, that I have heard of that time in his life. Before that war ended, he had experienced a concentration camp and escaped, eventually making his way to the Dominican Republic where he was exiled from Spain for the rest of his life. Exiled life there was not bad – don’t get the word ‘exiled’ wrong here – he remarried a beautiful Dominican woman he loved immensely and had three children, all starting from the age of 50 years old. Talk about age just being a number and it never being too late!

Visit Asturias, In My Life

Coming around to the part of the story that takes place in 2012…It was the year that I traveled alone for 9 months. For two of those months, August and September, I stayed in Oviedo, the capitol of Asturias. That time was so special for me. It’s when I began to write even more. Poems started to come alive in my writing – trust me, that was a first for me! I start each day by having coffee while I wrote. Many times, it would last hours and I would write a travel post or a poem or both.

A couple months before this special time on my own, I had visited Oviedo with my youngest brother Brendan and my mom and aunt. We were there for just over a week and had a great time. A couple years before that, in 2010, I had visited for my very first time. Each time, I fell more and more in love with Oviedo – its Parque San Francisco and ancient arch ruins, the lush green of the land that lives intertwined with the quaint town, its majestic cathedral and so much more that is full of ancient history. It’s truly a town full of enchantment and beauty.

On each of these visits, I made sure to go to the small villages of Tineo and Tuna, where my family are from. They are so small, tucked away into the deep green mountains and lush with rivers flowing through them. Tuna does not even have a stoplight in it, it’s so small and old! In Tuna, there’s the original house of the family that now has a plaque on it and a bust statue of the general in the small plaza. A family bought and restored the house some years ago. It looks like they did a great job and I’m so glad that the building is well taken care of and appreciated. In Tineo, there is a plaque with an image of General Rafael del Riego, that is located over the doorway of the building where he lived for a short time. It’s in one of the small squares there. Even in Oviedo, there are remnants of the family history, with another bust statue of the general in the town’s Plaza Riego, near the University’s older building and the cathedral.

Visit Asturias, In My Future

I like finding special meaning in things and believe that nothing is just coincidental. So it’s special to me that I am visiting Asturias again this August, exactly 4 years to the month, since the last time I went there. This time, my boyfriend Eric is with me and I am so excited to introduce him to this special place in my world. I know that he’s going to feel and enjoy the magic of it as much as I do.

We will be spending the entire month of August traveling, with the majority of time in Oviedo and some days in Tineo and Tuna. From there, we will also visit great places like the coastal city of Gijon, the ancient and sacred Cangas de Onis and heading along the northern coast with stops in Santander, Bilbao, and possibly San Sebastian.

Above Image – The beautiful beach of Gijon.

I can’t wait to enjoy the amazing culture, food, and nature of this special area of Spain. There are still so many parts of Asturias for me to discover and explore, that I am excited to tap into on this particular trip. Asturias fascinates me, not only because my family is from there, but because it has a lot of history and rich cultural heritage that surprises people. To begin with, it reminds me a lot of Scotland, with its lush, deep-green countryside and amazing mountains, rivers and coasts. Secondly, and most surprisingly, the ancient culture and history of the land is very celtic. They even play bagpipes, wear kilts, and make Sidra, a hard cider that is deliciously amazing and an art to serve.

Let’s not forget one of the main attractions of this area – the famous, historic pilgrimage route of El Camino de Santiago. We are not going to do the entire thing, or even close to that (at least not this time around), but we are looking into doing a few days on the original trail that is the oldest part of El Camino, the Camino Primitivo. There’s not as much information on it as we would like, especially few tours that help coordinate how to do the walk, but we are hoping to hike a few days from Oviedo to Tineo in mid-August. If you know anything of this trail and someone who can help us coordinate it well, please let us know!

Visit Asturias, For Yourself

Have you every visited a place because your family heritage was from there? I would love to hear about your experience. It brings a whole new element to our experience of travel. If you have been Asturias before, we would love to hear about your experience and get recommendations on what you think we should experience on this trip.

Not been there before? Stay tuned and subscribe to not miss out, so you can get some ideas on a very special and fantastic place that you will be very happy you traveled to. We hope our experiences with this area of Spain can be of help to you also. That’s why we’ll make sure to write and video about it here on Move to Traveling. Thanks for coming along!

Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego

Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego

Writer & Film Co-Producer

I love traveling and tend to be a slow-traveler, taking time to enjoy places and especially the local culture. ‘Eating and drinking’ my way around a new place and meeting the people, is how I love to travel. Enjoy my other writings and published poetry on my site


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