As soon as you leave behind the urban coast and sweep past the Embalsa de La Concepción reservoir, almost out of nowhere, the final bend reveals Istán – quietly going about its business away from the madding crowds.
It is unwise to try to drive through Istán, as its roads were built for horse and cart centuries ago and are incredibly steep and tight, but you can still view the whitewashed houses lining silent streets all around you and the mountain ridges beyond. Timeless hardly begins to describe Istán: you are stepping directly into living history, dating to the Moorish settlements.
Life in Istán adopts a pace usually associated with a slightly overweight and indolently contented house cat. There's really no rush here, and the siesta lives on as it should - fully embraced, fully expected and fully appreciated. That's not to say there's nothing to do.
Chilling Out in the Heart of Nature
Let's start with breakfast, which can be enjoyed on your terrace (with all ingredients sourced from the neighbourhood grocer and baker), at a local café or out and about.
The background echoes of running water emanate from pure water springs that course through the village, so fill your bottle before heading off (on foot, naturally) past deserted citrus groves as you descend towards the edge of the reservoir.
This hike will invariably have you working up an appetite, which means it’s time to head back into the village to enjoy delicious, inexpensive tapas from one of the numerous shaded dining establishments dotting the streets.
After your siesta and day at work/leisure, the setting sun will signal part two of “Life in Istán”. The cool that follows dusk is a signal for locals to up the pace. You can take your pick from a fair smattering of restaurants, and afterwards relax at a table in one of the several courtyard squares that lie all around the village, and enjoy a soothing sherry, crisp beer or silky glass of wine under the starlit sky.
All around you are other locals – some from families who have never lived anywhere but Istán, others recently-arrived expats – enjoying the same simple pleasures: fine food, excellent company, natural warmth, surrounding beauty and a chilled-out atmosphere.