Text by Paola Corini
Photographs by Luca De Santis
Monsaraz, Alentejo, Portugal. We only leave the farm if we need to. That’s the deal that me and my travelling companion made straight off.
And you can count the times on the fingers of one hand. But they’re necessary: the local market at Estremoz early on Saturday morning, the richest and oddest farmers’ market in Portugal, an ancestral fair of chicks and turkeys, parrots, rabbits, plaits of handmade sausages, black with pigs’ innards, cooked blood and garlic, baskets of bread and cheese, cabbages and herbs.
Here they still say: “Carne que baste, vinho que falte, pão que sobeje” (As much meat as is needed, less wine than is needed, more bread than is needed). When we were there it must still have been the time of year for oranges, because I remember the trees on the marble streets of Vila Viçosa overflowing with ripe citrus fruits and the ducal palace, seat of the House of Braganza, being closed to visitors.
We had to go out at least once around the beautiful hill town of Monsaraz with the woollen rugs handmade by Senhora Mizette and the great view over the River Guadiana and the border with Spain.
Plus a trip to all the old pottery ovens in the little village of São Pedro do Corval, one village, one trade.
And last, a traditional meal at the Adega Velha taverna in Mourão among the bullfights and Spanish-speaking regulars.