Estoi

Every year in the beginning of May, Estoi comes alive during the Festa da Pinha, which involves music, parades and lots of people on horseback carrying burning torches. But also on other dates there’s enough to see in this countryside village. What to do in Estoi and surroundings? Enjoy the Algarve suggests these seven things. 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2017

 

Check out the town

Estoi is an inland town, with mountain views to the north and sea views (from the higher situated parts) to the south. It’s a small place with some lovely streets, a few of which feature poems by the Portuguese poet Jorge de Sena. At a couple of places the paint is flaking, some tiles are missing or the walls have cracks, but that only adds to Estoi’s authenticity. When wandering through town, keep an eye out for the old communal wash-house.

 

Discover the ruins of Milreu

Watch the remains of what was once a large Roman villa on the site of the Núcleo Museológico da Villa Romana de Milreu. In what used to be the bathing chamber there are some nice 2,000 years old fish mosaics that are still intact and, contrary to many other excavation sites, here you’re allowed to get up close and touch them. Checking out the small museum (at the entrance) before visiting the site helps with knowing what you’re looking at.

Entrance fee: €2. Opening times: 9.30-13.00 and 14.00-17.00. Closed on Mondays and public holidays.

 

Wander through the gardens of the Palácio

This pousada is also known as the Pink Palace, and it isn’t hard to see where it got its nickname. Although the interior of the 19th century rococo Palácio de Estoi might not be to everyone’s taste (angels painted on the high ceilings, touches of gold everywhere and dark brown furniture, it oozes grandeur), definitely continue through the building and make your way to the gardens. There, be amazed by a combination of statues, trees, fountains, terraces, azulejos, pillars, lanes, mosaics, and orchards. This might sounds like a crazy mix, but it works out really well.

The pousada is considered a building of public interest, so entry is free, also if you aren’t staying in the hotel. Just ask at reception; they’ll point you in the right direction.

 

Chill on a terrace

Do as the locals and find some shade at the Largo Ossónoba, a nice plaza with calçadas on the floor and lots of trees around it. Alternatively, rest your feet on a bench on the main square which looks out on to the Igreja Matriz de Estoi (pictured on the second image of this page). This church dates from the 15th century but was rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake, and the story goes that all of the wood used for the altars in this church comes from ships.

 

Buy local souvenirs

Looking for regional produce? You’ll find it in Canastra, where the focus mainly lies on figs, almonds and carob beans; they come in all shapes and forms, from cookies to liquor. Also visit this shop in the centre of Estoi if you’re keen on other Algarvian edibles such as piri piri, honey, sea salt or wine. Or handmade products like wooden serving boards or reed baskets. Owner Stefano Malobbia is very knowledgeable as he’s spent six years working in the serra, talking to local producers. Happy to chat, he provides all sorts of information about the region, ranging from traditional recipes to walking routes.

 

Explore the serra

Located on the foothills of the Serra do Caldeirão, Estoi is a good place to start hiking or mountain biking in the nearby mountains. If you’re the kind of person that gets lost easily, you might want to check out these bushcraft tips before heading out.

 

Visit Moncarapacho

Want to see the surrounding towns? About 13km east of Estoi, you’ll find Moncarapacho, another calm inland village. Getting there is easy, just follow the M516. Heading north from Estoi on the N2 takes you to São Brás (9km away), in western direction there’s Almancil (at 18km distance), and if you go south, you’ll end up in the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, somewhere between Faro and Olhão (both are around 10km drive).

 

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine November 2017

 

Estoi

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