The Extremadura region offers rolling countryside and Roman, Jewish and Arab history to explore. Plus, cool plazas and great food – when you stop

Extremadura takes a little bit more effort to get to than many other parts of Spain. And because there is no beach, few of the 82.8 million people who visited Spain last year went to the region. Yet it is home to some of the country’s finest medieval towns and Roman architecture – and all the people who created Spain (Romans, Goths, Jews, Arabs) have made their mark here.

Visitors should pick up their hire car in Madrid and set the GPS for Navalmoral de la Mata. Pay attention getting out of town as the ring road is a nightmare. Once on the A5 head to Talavera de la Reina for a first encounter with classic Extremeño landscape: dehesa, rolling acres of holm oaks. This is what much of Spain looked like long ago before the trees were chopped down for firewood and shipbuilding, but here the oaks have been preserved so that blackfoot pigs can feed on their acorns and produce Spain’s treasured jamón de bellota (acorn-fed ham).

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