Tabarca

Did you know that Nueva Tabarca island and the England’s flag have much in common?

Tabarca is a permanently inhabited islet located 4 miles out of Santa Pola’s port, connected to both Alicante and Santa Pola by ferries and fast boats.

It has been colonized by Greeks and Romans, then Nueva Tabarca was abandoned and forgotten for many centuries.

The island is named after the islet of Tabarca, a tiny rock within a stone’s throw away from the African coast. During the 16 century such African Island was colonized by a group of fishermen from the republic of Genoa.

After centuries of peaceful coexistence with the local African Muslim population the Genovese European colony was attacked by  the Saracen and the population slaved for more than 20 years.

In 1769 Charles III, King of Spain, freed the Christian hostages and relocated them to the unhabituated islet that, from then on, is known as Nuova Tabarca.

So, what about the English Flag and Nueva Tabarca? Well, according to an historiographical tradition, during the crusades, Richard the Lionheart requested the Republic of Genoa to grant the use of the Saint George Cross as ensign for the English boats which sailed to the Holly Land. Tabarca and the English have an unexpected shared element: the Genovese, one, and their cross, the other.

We have spent a weekend in the flat island. We tell you: it is nothing like spending the day. After almost everyone has left the tiny space which is now exclusive patrimony of snorkerls, sun bathers and caldero gourmands, it becomes extremely silent and serene.

For lunch, we still prefer the Nou Collonet ( http://noucollonet.com). Try the ortiguillas, a type of anemonie, a delicacy you won’t find in many other places. You might love it or hate it, but it definitely won’t leave you indefferent. Don’t forget to order the caldero tabarquino, but make sure you have room for it, it’s a heavy two-course meal. But you can’t leave the island without eating it, at least, once.

Make sure you walk the whole island, -it’s less than 2 kms long- preferably at sunset. The eastern part of the island is where the concentration of houses, restaurants and beaches are. The western is wilder, but it allows us to imagine better how life was in this tiny peace of land, as the fortress, lighthouse and cementary are on this side.

During our show, we were lucky enough to bump into a flamenco show right next to the church.

A few houses are available for rental in Airbnb. There’s a handful of small hotels too. It is a charming travel back in time.

There’s still much summer left to enjoy Tabarca.

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