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"El Coto" hike in Istán with 19-month-old Oliver

Oct 18, 2016

Last Sunday Alex had a brilliant idea: take Oliver hiking for the first time. Before Oliver came, hiking was one of the weekend activities we loved the most, and it surely was the most appropriate to involve our dog Colbie. We were reminded of a very short hike in Istán, about 500m one direction and back, that would have been perfect for Oliver, so we decided to give it a try… and we all loved it!

If you live around Marbella or come visit with young toddlers, and want to do something different, get yourself in the nature and breathe fresh mountain air, Sierra de las Nieves is the place to go, and this particular short hike is just perfect for a morning outing and pic-nic! As the pictures speak for themselves, here’s a photo reportage of it, hope you’ll like it.

When you arrive to Istán (about 20 minutes from Marbella), an uphill on the right will take you to a little plaza where you can easily park. You’ll see a street like this on your right: it’ll take you straight to the beginning of the path (this is the only bit on actual concrete).

A couple hundred metres later, you’ll find the entrance to the “El Coto” path.

As you’ll read in the signs (I love signs and there are many along the path, with the names of different plants and animals!), EL Coto is an ancient network of Moorish irrigation channels that were used to transport the waters both for irrigation and domestic use, and is now a beautiful recreational area with bird cages and forest trails.

As today we wanted to take it as easy as possible, we decided to follow the main path ignoring the many different trails and natural stairs you can take (well, we did take a little detour ;-) But first, a little bit of sunscreen as the sun up here is quite strong!

As you can see, the irrigation channel extends throughout the whole trail (that’s where Colbie walked the whole time, in the water) and Oliver was so fascinated by it that he tried several times (like a million times) to climb down. On this trail you can also a big cage with many different small birds and one with two beautiful white ducks.

You’ll also see lots of different plants and trees, including fruit trees (we spotted lemons, chestnuts, avocados and figs) and almost at the end of the off-road path, before getting on the concrete street, you’ll pass a little house with hens and roosters. And there are also fountains with running mountain water where you can drink from.

When you get to the concrete street, you’re at the end of the path, where we turned back and traced our steps back to the main entrance, making it a bit more fun as Oliver was getting tired of walking…

Detour to the Nacimiento del Nogal

Before getting to the end of the path, on the left, you’ll see a sign that says, “Nacimiento del Nogal”. I know we had decided not to take detours, but this looked like a short one (as we could hear the water very close) that Oliver could definitely take, so we decided to give it a try. It was so worth it and full of adventures!

We passed a cute little bridge and continued on the path on our right (maybe next time we’ll take the left one).

We arrived to a little “plaza” and crossed one of the irrigation channels.

And we finally arrived to our goal, the Nacimiento del Nogal (the source of the Nogal).

Of course, we wanted to know where that little path you see on the left of the irrigation channel leads to, so we climbed down the (very slippery) stone steps on the left and followed it to a gorgeous spot immersed in the forest, surrounded by trees, with the sun light shining through the branches and giving the effect of million shades of green all around us. Beautiful! Unfortunately, the pictures really don’t capture it.

Or our way to the Istán village, Colbie got so, so dirty by walking in the water and rolling on the dirt…

But we couldn’t be happier :-)

When we got the parking plaza, we decided to still walk into the village and sit down for a coffee in the only cafe we found (crossing the plaza and straight straight straight) to give Colbie a chance to dry up before getting in the car. Oh, of course Oliver fell asleep at once as soon as the engine started!

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.


On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Mums, dads & kids
We don't know how to be parents, we learn it everyday as we go. This is my way of motherhood, the small victories and the bitter defeats, my inconvenient truths and the endless life lessons. And also all the baby products and toys we love the most.
This is life
Audiobooks of real-life stories for kids
Let's not project our insecurities onto our kids
Question authorities
Parents need to be constructively selfish
One more step towards self-acceptance
When you think your marriage is over after kids.
We forgot our 10-year wedding anniversary!
Yoga is not only the perfection you see online
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Montessori express: change the sentences into positive
Montessori express: everything is NOT fine
My baby cries desperately in the car (15 months)
Take care of the mother behind the woman
Montessori express: ask instead of correcting
Montessori express: describe instead of criticising
An example of how I practice empathy with my kids
How I show empathy to my children
Happy 4th birthday, Emily
Montessori New Year's tradition
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.


We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.


In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.


I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.