Saturday, August 13, 2011

Toriello - our village

It struck me the other day that we rarely talk about the village where we live, Toriello. Having been here nearly 6 years now, we know everyone to one degree or another and often pass the time of day with each other as our paths cross.

Toriello has a permanent residency of around 50 people and an influx of visitors in summer, spending time in their holiday homes or visiting family. The village is a collection of houses that are spread over a fairly wide area  and at its centre lies a small village chapel, an old school house (no longer used as a school) and a small village square that is actually triangular. The main north coast narrow gauge railway passes through the centre of the village with small rural trains every couple of hours, a steel train bound for Aviles once a day and the weekly passing through of the Trans Cantabrico, a tourist train that takes it's occupants on a very luxurious journey through the delights of northern Spain.


Sited about 1 km from the coast and the Bay of Biscay, we can trek along one of many cattle routes and small caminos to the cliffs and the impressive limestone blow holes that litter the coast line.

One of the many blowholes reaching 300mtrs

Being on the direct route of the Camino de Santiago, we see many back packer pilgrims making their way along the northern coastal route through Asturias, to Galicia. Stopping of at the village fountain to refresh their water bottles and take a short break before they set off for Ribadesella for an overnight stay. Invariably when we meet pilgrims on the path, they enquire how long it will take to reach Ribadesella. Luis always adds on 15 minutes or so in the belief that when they reach town earlier than expected, they will be pleased with their progress and it will brighten their day.

The majority of residents of Toriello are Asturian born and bred and many have not travelled widely however, we do have a healthy population of incomers from Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, UK and other parts of Spain, a few of whom are permanent residents.

Although the Spanish don't neighbour in the same way as we used to in the UK, they do often spontaneously gather on the corner of the lane, outside one of their homes or at the edge of a vegetable plot and discuss the news of the day, the weather, the harvests and the local gossip, nothing malicious, just catching up on each other and enquiring after old friends and neighbours they may not have seen for a while.

Tino, Tina, Vito, (just behind) Luis
A few people in the village make their own cider from the abundant apple orchards that surround the village. Invariably, if we stop for a catch up, the chilled cider comes out and is distributed by the host in a single glass, in turn. - a gesture of sharing. The cider is a still cider and is traditionally poured from above head height to oxygenate it before drinking - only 50 mls or so are taken at a time and then the glass is returned for the next one in line. It's strong, especially when drunk during the day....needless to say, we try and make sure that we bump into people on the way back, rather than on the way out to our daily walk.

Tino - expert cider maker


  1. Good to see a village still working as a village

  2. Thanks GZ - yes it is good to see. The village gathers several times a year for fiestas of one sort or another and any disputes are put to one side. The thing that has impressed Luis and I most is how generous people have been. Vegetables, meat, fish, fruit, machinery, hard labour and advice are just some of the gifts we often receive and try to give back whenever we can.

  3. Oops, not give back their gifts of course but offerings from our own produce


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