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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Ronda Romántica: Falling in love in the ‘city of dreams’
Sunday, January 9, 2022 @ 5:02 AM

Ronda Romántica is the festival, normally celebrated in May, when historic events and pageants are acted out on the streets of the City of the Tajo. Villages from throughout the Serranía de Ronda take part and good fun is had by all.

The last two years have been cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But there is another side to Ronda Romántica, namely the number of people who have come to Ronda, fallen in love here and remained.

The US author Ernest Hemingway is rumoured to have had a love affair with the film star Ava Gardner whom he met in Ronda when they were both here for the bullfight season in the fifties. Hemingway wrote the following about Ronda: “Es a Ronda a donde habría que ir, si vais alguna vez a España a pasar una luna de miel o con una amiguita.” (“It is to Ronda you’d have to go, if you’re going to Spain some time for a honeymoon or with a lady friend.”)

The aptly named Love family has two generations that have fallen under Cupid’s influence here in Spain, if not in Ronda, then in Andalucía. Mum and dad, Elaine and Ian, met here as 20-somethings, married and opened a very successful restaurant, The Harbour Lights, in Cabopino until they decided to move to Ronda with their three daughters.

They converted an old mill into one of the finest boutique hotels in the Serranía de Ronda, Hotel Molino del Puente, and its restaurant, La Cascada, is one of the best restaurants around.

Their eldest daughter Robyn (Marbella, Spain) met and fell in love with Gianlucca (Germany via La Palmera, Spain) at Cádiz University. They have both now graduated and work as marine biologists, first in East Anglia, UK and then Sweden.

Her sister, Carly (Marbella, Spain) and Tom (England via Marbella) met on the Costa del Sol but moved to Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife where they ran a successful bar/ restaurant. They have a baby girl, Sophia, and have now moved back to the mainland.

Paul Whitelock (Barnstaple, Devon, England) and Rita Drechsler (Oesterholz, Germany) met at the Feria de Pedro Romero in 2008. Thirteen years later they are still together (11 years married).

Charlotte Wilmot (Lincoln, England) and Jaime López (Benaoján, Málaga, Spain) met in Ronda 19 years ago. They are married with a child. He was her Spanish teacher. They run a successful language school in Ronda, RondaLingua.

Michael Coy (Wrexham, North Wales) met and fell in love with Mercedes (Ronda, Spain) during a trip to the town 20 years ago. He gave up his career as a barrister and moved to Ronda to be with his dream girl. Their relationship lasted 15 years and they remain good friends.

Michael still lives in Ronda, where he teaches English and Spanish, offers legal advice and writes poetry in both English and Spanish.

Andrei, a British former primary school teacher, born in the UK to Polish refugees escaping from Nazi Germany in the 1940s, came to Ronda 11 years ago where he met María. They are still together. He is an English teacher and she is an asesora at the Tourist Office in Ronda.

Seamus (Co. Cork, Ireland) is an incorrigible romantic. He falls in and out of love regularly.  As does Chris Mees (Antwerp, Belgium) who has a different girl on his arm every time I see him.

Becky Jackson (Colwyn Bay, Wales) and Graham Pitt (Scotland). They were already engaged to be married when they first visited Ronda, but they loved the town so much they decided to get married here. With the help of Becky’s mum and her partner of the time they managed to organise a fantastic wedding in the beautiful Palacio de Mondragón in Ronda, one of few by foreigners in the town. That was in May 2006. Their marriage is still going strong and they have a son, Alex.

Delphine Duboys (Paris, France) and Fernando (Ceuta, Spain) found love here and now run a horse riding retreat, Paddock Paradise ( located just outside Ronda.

These coups de foudre don’t always work out, however, and several relationships that existed prior to Ronda have foundered in the City of Dreams. For example, this writer’s relationship with his first wife of 30 years and then his subsequent girlfriend of two years.

Other guiris have come to Ronda as married couples or partners in order to escape the rat race that is northern Europe and to build a new life. In some cases, regrettably, the pressures of having to earn a crust or living together 24/7 have taken their toll.

In some cases, sudden death has intervened.

In 2005 Jill and Bill La Pêche bought their dream finca together in Yunquera (Málaga) to develop an ecological fruit farm, although they lived in Montejaque, near Ronda. In 2009 Bill suddenly died of a heart attack, leaving Jill alone.

She struggled to maintain the finca for several years, but eventually sold it in 2018. She is still in Montejaque enjoying her life, and, NOT wearing black all the time, as Spanish widows do.

Julie Wilkinson has owned a house in Cañada del Real Tesoro (Cortes de la Frontera Estación) for 17 years. She and long-time partner Nigel used it regularly to escape the pressures of working life in the UK. Nigel died suddenly in 2012 leaving Julie to reassess her life.

She decided to put all her eggs in one basket and moved out to Spain full time in 2018, where she is semi-retired. A fluent Spanish-speaker, she spends some of her time assisting non-Spanish speakers and also Spanish locals with their bureaucratic and administrative issues. She is also a keen photographer, rambler, cook and writer on environmental issues.

So Ronda Romántica, the local festival, was suspended for the second year in succession, but it looks as though Ronda continues to throw up romances for visitors and locals alike. Long may it continue.

¡Viva Ronda Romántica!

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