Picasso on a plate

Wendy Gomersall learns about the legendary artist on a luxury break to his birthplace, Malaga.
Anantara Villa Padierna PalaceAnantara Villa Padierna Palace
Anantara Villa Padierna Palace

He’s been called the greatest artist in living memory by some, though his genius, and his behaviour, continue to provoke heated debate 50 years after his death. And if you’ve enjoyed the BBC’s three-part documentary, Picasso: The Beauty and The Beast, you’ll love a new luxury break created by Anantara Villa Padierna Palace, tucked away in hills a short drive from Malaga, Spain, where the artist was born.

And if you’ve enjoyed the BBC’s three-part documentary, Picasso: The Beauty and The Beast, you’ll love a new luxury break created by the superb Anantara Villa Padierna Palace, tucked away in hills a short drive from Malaga, Spain, where the artist was born.Commemorating half a century since his death and entitled A Palatial Stay Inspired by Picasso, the experience centres on art and gastronomy, and has been devised in partnership with Malaga City Council and Museo Picasso Málaga.It takes in the most important landmarks. First stop was Picasso’s Birthplace Museum, the house in Plaza de la Merced, where he was born on October 25, 1881.As well as early works by the child genius, there are personal artifacts including, poignantly, toy soldiers he played with. Family photographs show his father, Jose Ruiz y Blasco, an artist himself and art teacher, mother Maria Picasso y Lopez, and Picasso’s sister, Conchita, who sadly died of diphtheria aged seven.In the square opposite the home, there’s a life-size bronze statue of Picasso on a marble bench where thousands of tourists sit to take selfies.Next stop was the Picasso Museum Malaga, opened in 2003 and home to 233 works donated by members of his family.My brilliant guide, Maria Palomares Perraut, succinctly explained the many styles, influences and periods of Picasso’s work, encompassing, for example, the Blue Period, prompted by the tragic suicide of close friend and fellow artist Carles Casagemas, the co-founding of the Cubist movement and the African-influenced period.Also, of course, there are many pieces inspired by the significant women in his life. Picasso produced an estimated 100,000 works.Next, we visited the Santiago Church where Picasso was baptised; you can still see the font used in the ceremony.As this break combines art with gastronomy, our day ended at the famous El Pimpi restaurant – a favourite with actor Antonio Banderas who lives nearby, Maria told me.Here, the special Picasso-inspired tasting menu featured succulent Iberian ham. Malagueña salad with potatoes, orange and baked cod, meat croquettes, fried fish from Málaga’s fish market, pork cheek stewed in sweet wine, cheesecake… go hungry!After all that sightseeing, a few hours back at the hotel’s phenomenal spa were in the order. This break includes a blissful massage, a treat Picasso surely would have enjoyed.The Anantara Villa Padierna Palace is a stunning, spacious property, surrounded by three golf courses and gorgeous gardens with lovely views. It was designed by British architect Ed Gilbert and is filled with more than 1,200 original paintings, sculptures and artifacts. This break includes a Picasso-inspired print of the resort by prestigious local artist Jorge Parra to take home.There are 132 deluxe guest rooms, suites and outstanding luxury villas – guests have included Michelle Obama. You’ll find a huge outdoor pool, terraces and loungers and many places to eat and drink inside and out. La Loggia is offering a Picasso menu to all guests featuring dishes loved by the artist, including the most fantastic fish meatballs and mouthwatering Malaga bread-based pudding called torrijas de vino.We headed for the Sea Beach Club, a five-minute shuttle away, for a lunch of succulent fresh fish, entertained by brilliant singer Ben – from Bristol, it turned out.The highlight of our break though came in the evening with the unforgettable Picasso Dining by Design experience, exquisite food and wine in private room with walls painted with gorgeous flowers.Every dish was a work of art, inspired by the great master himself – bravo Executive Chef Manuel Navarro and team:Marenga-style clams with garlic, onion and green pepper – my faultless waiter, Carlos, assured me it was ok to soak up every last smudge of sauce with a hunk of bread. Villa Padierna may be luxurious, but it’s not stuffy and the staff were lovely.Next, almonds ajoblanco, a cold soup. Then tuna loin with onion and sweet paprika. Finally, there was a superb tart with pumpkin jam filling, biscuit, almonds and honey. It’s called bienmesabe, aka ‘it tastes good to me’. And do you know what? It certainly did…The two-night Luxury Retreat: A Palatial Stay Inspired by Picasso break at the Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Resort, available until March 31, 2024, costs from EUR 1,165 (approx. £1,008) per person, based on double occupancy. It includes Malaga Picasso experience, Picasso Dining by Design experience, 60-minute massage and Anantara Spa access, breakfast, return airport transfers from Malaga Airport, but not flights. Book on Anantara.com More info: spain.info

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