A Note From The Editor: We are big fans of Pons Avarcas and their sister line, Laro. We firmly believe that they are the perfect summer shoe. In addition to offering you a chance to win up to two pairs of the sandals for yourself (see the giveaway we’re kicking off today over on our Instagram account!) we asked Noelia to share how to best experience the tiny region in northern Spain where the Laro espadrilles are made.

We moved to California from Barcelona in 2004 when my husband, Jose Fuentes, accepted an engineering position in San Diego. Among many packed possessions were a few pairs of Pons Avarcas, which we both grew up wearing. It only took a couple dozen compliments to realize there was an unmet demand for the Mediterranean product in the U.S. market, and that is how our adventure began.

We have since launched a sister line of classic and traditional espadrilles, which are also from our Mediterranean summers growing up in Barcelona. We work exclusively with the company Laro Espadrilles for its timeless, handcrafted artisan methods. Laro Espadrilles is a family run business located in La Rioja (the smallest province in the north of Spain) and is operated by the original founding family who has continued the family tradition generation after generation.

While La Rioja is a region well known for manufacturing artisan espadrilles, it is especially recognized for its world-class acclaimed red wines and rustic farm-to-table gastronomy.

La Rioja is the kind of place where you can walk into a bar and, without a doubt, a friendly local will want to get to know you and end up inviting you over for a glass of wine and pincho (northern Spain’s version of tapas). If you need directions while visiting La Rioja, a local will do more than tell you the way. They’ll kindly walk you to your destination.

La Rioja also offers some of Spain’s best food and wine.

Below I’m sharing four of our favorite reasons for visiting the province of La Rioja, in the hope that you’ll be inspired to travel there yourself. Ready to experience it like a local?

4 Reasons to Visit La Rioja | DARLING

1. Eat pinchos at Calle del Laurel in Logroño for its sheer concentration of bars in the Gothic quarter. This is where entire families and groups of friends talk and share laughs while sampling the most beautiful and delicious variety of pinchos and local wines. Even Ernest Hemmingway treated himself to pinchos here!

2. Explore Santo Domingo de la Calzada with its maze of medieval streets and historical buildings. It is an excellent place to visit, as well as a pit stop for those doing the famous pilgrimage Camino de Santiago (you will be sure to see many hikers with their big backpacks).

3. Wine tasting at Marques de Riscal winery and Frank Gehry’s innovative and avant-garde design hotel. A picturesque drive with views as far as the eye can see of golden fields and emerald vineyards will take you to the winery. It’s oldest in the region founded in 1858. Totally worth the visit!

4. Eat at Sopitas, a restaurant in the town of Arnedo. The food is superb and the restaurant has the most charming and cozy setting; it’s an old wine cellar with brick and stone vaulted ceilings. Try different small plates like their jamon iberico, local piquillo peppers, and artichokes. ¡Qué aproveche! (Enjoy your meal!)

La Rioja is an amazing and unforgettable experience. Beyond these suggestions, there is so much more to explore and discover on your own, so get out there! Buen viaje!

Where have you traveled in northern Spain? 

**Don’t forget to enter our giveaway with Pons + Laro over on our Instagram account where we’ll be posting the details later today. Follow, tag and share where your shoes are taking you this summer for a chance to win a pair of your choice + a pair for a friend if you’re a Darling subscriber!**

For more of Noelia’s Spain-savvy travel advice, be sure to check out her article “I Love Barcelona” on page 160 of Darling Issue No. 11.

Top image via Eugenio Iglesias; Dinner image courtesy of Noelia Pahissa

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