In the collective imagination, the province of Alicante is represented by an idyllic picture of beaches with golden sand and hidden coves, a history fashioned by native and foreign cultures, a gastronomy that is as varied as it is hedonistic and, of course, a disturbing wild and arid landscape but where we also find olive groves from which to extract our extra virgin olive oil.
It is true to say that, in general, this impression is not far wrong. However, if we investigate a little further, we will discover the infinity of natural resources dotted around its uplands in corners yet to be explored.
When we leave the coast and head inland, here and there authentic oases of life emerge. These are areas of great environmental value, almost always protected by the local authorities. Among these enclaves, the Font Roja Natural Park and the Sierra de Mariola Natural Park stand out owing to their wealth of fauna and especially, to their abundant flora and this is precisely where we find our Masía el Altet.
Looking out over the Mediterranean, barely 30 kilometres away as the crow flies, and at a height of between 800 and 1,390 metres, pines, holm oaks, savin junipers, common junipers, ashes, maples, gall-oaks and so many other species have lived together for centuries, oblivious to the passage of time.
At their feet, the stony ground that descends the sides of hills and outcrops of rock towards small valleys is carpeted by an infinity of medicinal plants and aromatic herbs. Savory, heather, hawthorn, lavender, fennel, St John’s wort, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, sage, buckthorn, wall germander… There are so many that, after having catalogued more than 1,200 varieties, the botanic community has no doubt in classifying this privileged area as the richest natural reserve in the world in terms of medicinal plants and aromatic herbs.
And that is not all. Since time immemorial, the explosion of colours and aromas that impregnate the atmosphere, depending on the season, has been enriched by those of the olive. This tree, so Mediterranean but also well-established in this unique environment, has not only learned to acclimatize to the cold winters and warm summers that determine the climate of the area but has moreover, learnt to take advantage of the extensive range of temperatures on a daily basis to produce a higher presence of polyphenols in the extra virgin olive oils that Masía el Altet has been extracting from its fruits for many generations and which have resulted in their being catalogued as the best extra virgin olive oils in the world.