Sineu is one of ten candidates vying for the accolade of Rural Tourism Capital 2022. | MDB

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You wait all this time and two Sineus come along at once (more or less). It was three weeks or so ago that I last wrote about Sineu - what is to happen with the old palace - and here I am writing again about a place that was the de facto capital of the Mallorca-away-from-Palma some seven hundred years ago.

What, apart from the questions about the palace, has prompted this swift return? It isn’t the fair, as that will merit a third mention in a few days’ time. It has to do with tourism, rural tourism. Sineu is one of ten candidates vying for the accolade of Rural Tourism Capital 2022, Spanish rural tourism, that is. At the fair, I wonder if the town hall will put up posters inviting visitors to Vota Sineu! On its Facebook page there is a pinned post that encourages participation. The town hall’s looking to ensure that Sineu is indeed the capital. Don’t forget to share, the post reminds users.

One guesses that something similar is happening in Sineu’s nine rivals. These can be found on the voting website. Which is? Escapada Rural. Its home page announces that it has the best rural houses in Spain for rent. Organising a competition to determine the rural tourism capital seems like a pretty decent way of attracting publicity for these best rural houses. Fair enough; good marketing.

This is the sixth such contest, and voters can win an “escape” for two in the destination of their choice. Even more incentive, though I suppose if you live in Sineu and were to win, there wouldn’t be much of a great escape; we are talking a municipality of some 4,000 people after all. Though this might be sacrilegious, you might be tempted to vote for Tinajo in Lanzarote, publicity for which shows a small whitewashed church with a green door. Looks quite nice, and the escape would be great. But what if your neighbours discovered that you’d turned your back on Sineu and shot off to the Canary Islands’ rural tourism capital. That would never do.

There is more to Tinajo than the church, as there is a series of images. And so there is for each of the contenders. For Sineu the photos start with a view of the church of Santa Maria, notable for the work of architect Joaquín Pavía y Birmingham in the nineteenth century, and pass through a collection of charcuterie, a bowl of snails, a plate of frito, some black pigs and a windmill. There are no volcanic sites that compare with Tinajo’s. Still, rural is what rural is; it depends where the rural is, and what degree of emphasis is placed on peasant cuisine.

How does Sineu come to be among the ten candidates? The idea for the competition is to give visibility to those municipalities which have made a commitment to the development of rural tourism. In this regard and going back some years, Sineu seemed to be the driving force for promoting not just itself but the whole of the Pla region of the island. Sineu had recaptured its centuries-old capital claim by being the Pla capital for tourism.

It now wants to be capital of something else, yet the Pla initiative has since had focus turned on Montuiri, a pilot municipality for something known as SusTowns. This is a project within Interreg Mediterranean, a European Development Fund programme. All to do with sustainable tourism away from the conventional sun and beach resorts. And why not? It’s all good. Or it is until these sustainable rural escapes discover that they might not be as sustainable as they had hoped they would be. The greater publicity, the greater the potential number of visitors. Excellent news, but then come the questions about properties being dedicated to holiday rentals and local services being overstretched. It’s a difficult balance.

We have until May 12 to discover whether Sineu is national rural tourism capital, a decision to be made by popular vote, egged on by social media campaigning and perhaps the odd poster at May fairs. And the fair in Sineu is the absolute epitome of a Mallorcan rural fair as well as being the island’s oldest.

Will it be Sineu or will it be Tinajo, Blanca (Murcia), Cazorla (Jaén), Chinchón (Madrid), El Robledo (Ciudad Real), Graus (Huesca), Esterri d’Àneu (Lleida), Nieva de Cameros (La Rioja) or Tiedra (Vallodolid)? Wherever you want to escape to, the choice is yours. But meanwhile, here’s hoping for Sineu.