Castilla-La Mancha not only has Spain’s lowest population density, but sees fewer tourists than any region outside Navarra. Located on a windswept fertile plateau, the landscape is richly patterned, with undulating plains of rich henna-coloured earth, neatly striped and stippled with olive groves and grape vines, stretching to a horizon you never seem to reach. This is the land where Cervantes set the fictional journeys of Don Quijote with quixotic reminders everywhere; from the solitary windmills to the abundant (mostly ruined) castles.
The area’s best known city is glorious Toledo, Spain’s spiritual capital, while Cuenca is another wondrous place, seemingly about to topple off its eagle’s-eyrie perch high above a gorge.
On a more sensory level, this is where saffron is grown and also the capital of Spain’s unrivalled Manchego cheese. The latter makes the perfect accompaniment to the local wines – La Mancha grows more vines than any other region worldwide.