SO MANY MILES TO WANDER
In Portugal, there are still many hidden secrets, especially in the interior of the country. Unfortunately this part of the country suffers from human desertification because of lack of services and unemployment. It can be easily found villages with less than 10 inhabitants, most of them are old people that don’t want to leave their small houses and the place where they lived all their life.
Some old houses are recovered like A Casa do Tio Tenente at Castanheira Cimeira, Ermida, about 30 minutes from Sertã. A place to relax and enjoy the beautiful landscape. You will be surrounded by a forested area with pine, eucalyptus and olive; and with hidden river beaches like Malhadal, Aldeia da Ruiva and many more, just drive around to find other beaches.
This house was rebuilt using shale on the exterior, or wouldn’t you be in a shale valley. Entering the house, you will feel the smell of pine wood; it covers the floor, ceiling and walls. The house was in a pretty bad shape, so a lot had to be done to recover it. It was built in late 19th century and it belonged to a lieutenant in the Portuguese Army, José Alves Pereira. He used to be known as Tio Tenente (in English, Uncle Lieutenant), since he had never had children, however had plenty of nephews.
The house has a kitchen, dining room, 6 suites (two of them with a balcony) and open air areas in the shade where you can read a book and relax. The rooms can be unusual; at least for me it was the first time that I slept in a room with an ensuite bathroom…without a door, like a loft, no doors once you enter the room. Don’t worry; the toilet seat is not in the middle of the room!
For more active people, there are plenty of paths for some trekking around the area; and in Summer time, there are many kind of festivals, where you can listen to some popular music or the much known Fado. Try local delicacies and appreciate handmade works.
Over the weekend that I was there, Maranho’s Festival was happening. Maranho is a specialty of traditional Portuguese cuisine, particularly of Beira Baixa. It consists of a bag made of goat tripe, filled with goat meat, onion, ham, rice and strongly spiced with mint, paprika, parsley and other spices.
There is always plenty to discover in the interior of Portugal, you will be surprised. So rent a car and hit the road.