What is that word hanging in the air over Villa Clara, one of the nation's most diverse provinces? 'Revolution,' perhaps? And not just because Che Guevara liberated its capital, Santa Clara, from Batista's corrupt gambling party to kick-start the Castro brothers' 58-year (and counting) stint in power. Oh, no. Ultra-cultural Santa Clara is guardian of the Cuban avant-garde (having the nation's only drag show and its main rock festival). Meanwhile, the picturesque colonial town of Remedios and the beach-rimmed Cayerías del Norte beyond are experiencing Cuba's most drastic contemporary tourist development.
This region is indelibly stamped with Che's legacy and associated sights. Yet it should also win your heart for hosting the nation's most frenzied street party (Remedios), for its highs among the glimmering Escambray peaks and their adventure possibilities (around Embalse de Hanabanilla), and for its lows along the lolling white-sand strands off its northern coast (Cayo Santa María).