Call it the Costa del Golf. The English do. That’s because some 40 sets of links can be found today along the southern coast of Spain (La Costa del Sol), including world-famous Valderrama. But even if you like teeing it up, you would hardly travel all this way just to experience an Iberian Myrtle Beach. You would, however, travel all this way to experience the sybaritic spirit that exists beyond the resorts lining La Costa’s chaotic N-340 roadway, the Autopista de Sol.

Nowhere is that spirit stronger than in Andalusia, a region legendary for fiery flamenco, bullfighting, and tapas bars. It’s a fertile land where pear, orange, lemon, and fig blossoms scent the subtropical air, where trees drip under the weight of the plump, fecund olives the locals call gordales. Stretching from Sevilla in the west to Granada in the east, Andalusia is a multicultural Eden. Moors, Gypsies, Jews, and Christians all settled here at one time or another, and this mix of cultures finds expression today in the architecture of the tiny hillside pueblos blancos.

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