Sometimes I look on the map app and look at the surrounding area, expanding my search around the city of Gijón, looking for places that look interesting. We received a map from the Tourist Information office of Gijón, and we have utilized it to explore the city, its different neighborhoods and the many cultural experiences, such as our last trip to the Nicanor Piñole Museum.
The map does not include all of Gijón, so that is when the map app comes in handy. I was scrolling around on the map and saw a place called the Museo Evaristo Valle, located in the Somió neighborhood of Gijón, which is east of the city center where we live, or about an hour’s walk away, which is within our walking area. The homes in Somió are quite large, some are even estates, and after speaking to locals later we learned it is a very posh and expensive neighborhood of Gijon, and Asturias.
I also saw a few restaurants near the museum, so we decided to make a day of going to Somió, making a reservation at Somió Park Restaurant, with a trip to the museum after. Our reservations were not until 3pm, so we did a mini-pub crawl on the way to Somió, to break up our hour plus walk. We first stopped at Cafe Coral, which is on the Paseo Martimo right across from San Lorenzo Beach, where we ordered a caña (which is a small beer, about 10 ounces) each and ate a little snack, as Coral is one of the Cafes/Bars that provides excellent little snacks along with beers.
Next we proceeded toward Somió and had a couple more drinks at a small restaurant and split croquetas, which are date-sized fried balls of cheese and jamón, and a specialty of restaurants and bars in Asturias. At the Somió Park restaurant we shared an excellent fish plate (Lubina al horno con su ajada) and a pork plate (Paletilla de lechal a baja temperatura), along with Sidra, but the desert was the star, Coulant de chocolate (Peach ice cream is found under the orange wedge, and that is hot fudge chocolate inside the cake). See the before and after pictures below:
Then, on to the Museum, which is truly stunning. There are two buildings on the large property, one at the entrance, which houses the welcome desk where we bought our tickets, as well as a small temporary gallery, this time it was of pictures taken all over Spain. The second building is at the rear of the property, and was the Valle family home for many years, and where the artist lived for much of his life. As we walked through the peaceful garden on gravel paths there was much art and sculptures (done by local and international artists), as well as arrays of different plant life from around the world. There is a beautiful bonsai garden that inspired us to have one of our own, some day, along with a very interesting statue of a man sitting, but about to fall.
Once inside the family home that is the gallery for all of Valle’s paintings, we encountered the docent of the museum, who was very excited to tell us all about Ernesto Valle (1873-1951). We were the first visitors of the day (the museum and grounds are only open from 5pm-8pm) and he told us, speaking only Spanish, about Valle’s life, from beginning life in Gijón to traveling to Paris, New York, Cuba, and other major world cities to study painting, until he returned to Asturias for good, due to agoraphobia. The docent turned on lights and opened doors to each room of the gallery, which featured different paintings from different periods of the artist’s life.
Bright colors adorned many of the paintings, and the last room the docent opened for us held the artist’s seashell collection that was given to him by his father. As you can see by the pictures below, it was quite the impressive collection, and he pointed out how the artist took the vibrant and bright colors from the different shells and incorporated them into his paintings, which thus became very apparent throughout our tour of the museum.
After he showed us the seashell room, more visitors came to the museum, and the docent had to leave us, but we felt very good about understanding much of what he said, all in Spanish. The final room was a recreation of the artist’s studio, complete with paints, brushes, reading materials, and other items that make a each artist’s studio one of a kind.
Truly am impressive museum, we left and continued our walk through the rest of the grounds, meandering at a slow pace as we enjoyed the peacefulness and natural beauty. What a place, and we were so pleased to happen upon it, like all good things, found on a whim, and thus easier to enjoy and take in with no expectations, and it exceeding them all.