Along this route through the O Ribeiro region, we'll discover great ethnographic treasures scattered throughout a land marked by the water of the rivers that criss-cross it and by the colours of its grapevines.

One night at the mill,
one night is nothing.
A whole week long
that's what it is to grind.
  Popular folks song

“If you want to treat me right, give me Ribeiro wine, wheat bread from Ribadavia, and girls from Chan de Amoeiro.”
  Popular saying

Day 1

We start off the first day following the course of the River Arenteiro as it flows through the land around O Carballiño. Awaiting our visit is the  Parque Etnográfico do Arenteiro (Arenteiro Ethnographic Park), which consists of renovated mills that will help us to understand the traditional ways the river was used. Following the riverside from the Ponte Veiga (Veiga Bridge) will take us to the ethnographic complex, walking on wooden walkways or along paths lush with vegetation.

The circuit is five kilometres long, although – thanks to the bridges connecting both banks – we can change from side to side and modify our route. Sit down to catch your breath and take a break on one of the benches, listening to the hypnotic sound of the water's flow as it mixes with the rustle of the leaves blowing in the wind…ummm, isn't that nice?

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And – since you are in a land of splendid grapevines – stop in at one of the establishments in the town centre and enjoy a peaceful glass of O Ribeiro wine. If you're feeling peckish, savour that glass of wine along with a mouthwatering dish known as carne richada (beef prepared with capsicum and potatoes), or eels, or a serving of the polbo á feira (galician style octopus, cooked and seasoned with oil, paprika and salt) that O Carballiño is so famous for. For dessert, nothing beats the famous custard-filled cream horns – a local delight – or donut-shaped Ribadavia pastries, of Mudejar origin

Continuing on our way eastward, we come upon the town of Boborás, where we discover some small architectural gems. Our first stop will be at the popular Baroque shrine of Virxe da Saleta (Our Lady of La Salette), hidden in a thick forest that oozes spirituality with every step we take. Still within the municipal limits, we discover another little gem, the Romanesque shrine of San Xiao de Astureses. Founded by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century, two centuries later it was made part of the Order of St. John of Malta. The church retains all of its Romanesque structure: a single nave and an interesting semicircular apse

Following the Romanesque trail, we arrive at the church of San Martiño de Cameixa, a building that – despite its renovation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – still retains that mediaeval air reflected in its carved and shaped stone.

After this tour of stone monuments, it's time for a little walk. Immerse yourselves in the lush nature of an indigenous forest and follow the cobblestone road to the summit where you will discover the hidden church of San Mamede de Moldes, built in the twelfth century over an ancient fortified pre-Roman Iron Age village and integrated into its cemetery. This sanctuary stands out for both its simplicity as well as its natural surroundings. At its feet you'll find an interesting ethnographic complex comprising a fair pendello (shed-like construction used as a stall at the local market) and an old cemetery whose cold stones are warmed by the colours of the sunset.

To finish off our first day, we head to the town of Leiro where we will find – escorted by impressive, colour-dappled terraces – the Cistercian monastery of San Clodio. Of uncertain origin, this monastery was built in the twelfth century and was used by Benedictine monks, who turned it into a very prosperous agricultural centre. It was, in fact, this monastery that brought grapevines into the area. Don't miss the Caravaca Cross – better known as the "Divine Relic" and venerated by the villagers because it saved the grapevines from hail – on its façade.

Day 2

On our second day, we'll stay in Leiro as we discover the many little scattered gems that still lie ahead.
Entering the parish of Gomariz, we are received on high by the late twelfth-century church of Gomariz, from which we have a spectacular view of the winding course of the River Avia. In February and March this beautiful landscape boasts the additional spectacle provided by the mimosas: the mountain becomes tinged with their yellow hue and impregnated with their characteristic aroma.

You can still see the masonry of the wall and the corbels of the eaves in the original sanctuary, linked to the monks of the monastery of San Xusto de Toxosoutos in Lousame.

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Still following the mediaeval trail, we come to the parish of San Miguel de Lebosende where his church still conserves the western late Romanesque portal. Another example of Romanesque architecture is what we find in the church of San Tomé de Serantes: a prototypical structure of this period with a single rectangular nave and wooden roof. The highlight of this church is the monumental rose window with tracery in the west façade. The church of Santa María de Lamas – a building of extreme simplicity, in the classic rural rectangular nave style – is also from this same period.

The parish of Lamas sprung up – or so says tradition – in the vicinity of a long-vanished castle where Alfonso VII was supposedly help captive. From Santa María de Lamas, two roads will guide our steps to the Pena Corneira and the Miradoiro do Outeiral viewpoint, both over 600 metres above sea level, so we'll be able to enjoy some excellent views of the entire region. Leaving behind our stroll along the Leiro, we get ready near the walkway for the climb to Lebosende via the so-called Camino Real (King's Highway), a unique landscape of native vegetation that will lead to the Pena Corneira recreation area, where we will find the granite "horns" that give it its name.

Now, from this wonder created by Nature, we'll switch to one made by man. Not to be missed is a visit to the Encomenda de Beade, a mediaeval historic/artistic complex renovated in the early modern period that consists of a church, calvary, Stations of the Cross and a popular chapel.

Next, we turn our steps towards Ribadavia , which – as its name indicates – is on the banks of the River Avia. Once there, we are welcomed by the church of San Xes de Francelos in the valley of the same name. Dating from the ninth century, this construction is unique in Romanesque architecture. The façade of its chapel features several very notable elements; oobserve with attention the horseshoe arch of Visigothic influence, the columns with Corinthian capitals and the two scenes from the Bible. Perhaps the most interesting feature, however, is its famous carved shutters, decorated with various motifs.

Day 3

The third day finds us heading to the "City" as the fortified pre-Roman Iron Village of San Cibrao de Las is known, one of the largest fortified towns found among those located in the territory of Galicia, in the municipal limits of Punxín and Santo Amaro. It was continuously occupied from the second century B.C. until the second century A.D., and characterised by its advanced state of Romanisation. Its mysterious name harks back to Saint Cibrao, a magician who became a Christian and ended up a saint.

Tradition says that Saint Cibrao is the author of the Ciprianillo, a handbook that served both to find the treasures of the Moors as well as to free them from their magic spells. The fortified town is located next to Mount San Trocado so – despite being unable to see the River Miño – you will be able to catch a glimpse the nearby fortified towns of Santa Ádeda, Trelle and Coto do Castro.

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We move on now, to Melón to explore the Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Melón, one of the lesser-known gems and the product of a mixture of several styles: Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque. This twelfth-century church has seen better times. Nevertheless, its thick walls and two cloisters still hold a great deal of charm

Back in the lovely village of Ribadavia, we'll take a bit of a detour from our route to pay a visit to the outdoor thermal springs complex in Prexigueiro. The River Cerves' hot springs have been known for centuries, and are mentioned in the documentation of the monastery of Santa María de Melón, to which they belonged. Located in the heart of the countryside, the setting is an open invitation to hike one of the trails that run along the banks of the river. After your walk, you'll enjoy suiting up and trying out the pools of different temperatures. One of the best times to enjoy these hot springs is when the contrast between the hot water and the cool night air starts becoming more noticeable.

After the peacefulness created by the hot springs and being in touch with nature, we head back to Boborás, specifically to the mediaeval village of Pazos de Arenteiro. Our first discovery will be the beautiful Ponte da Cruz (Bridge of the Cross) over the River Avia that – invaded by nature – shows the wounds of the battle between the locals and Napoleon's troops. The richness of the houses and manors in Pazos de Arenteiro is amazing. In fact, the town's name refers to the large number of these buildings constructed on the banks of the River Arenteiro, the results of the legacy of its importance in past centuries. Stroll through the streets of this town savouring every corner touched by history; the monuments hidden in this Historic/Artistic Complex will come out to meet you. Don't miss the Casa de Arriba (House at the Top), the Pazo dos Feixóo (Manor of the Feixóos), the Pazo de Tizón (Manor of Tizón), the Pazo de Currelo (Manor of Currelo) or the church of San Salvador, which houses the graves of people who wished to be buried here, a right that was purchased with wine.

But Pazos de Arenteiro also owes part of its importance to its strategic position on the road between Ribadavia and Chantada. Proof of this is the peto de ánimas (wayside shrine) – a small niche for collecting alms for the souls in Purgatory – over the apse of the mediaeval church where the mule drivers deposited their coins to pray for the blessed souls in Purgatory.

If you're still feeling energetic, why don't you continue your walk along the riverbank through the lush carballeira (oak grove).

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