Visit Sistelo, a wonderful village of Portugal!
This article is the testimony of my last trip to the North of Portugal. “Writing & travelling Atelier – four days trip with the Portuguese author Raquel Ochoa“.
“I finally arrive at Sistelo.
A cat walks around my legs as if he was greeting me home. The sheep approach the Largo of the illustrious Viscount of Sistelo and look at me curiously as if to pose for the photograph.
With about three hundred inhabitants, there is no day there that hasn’t got a story to be remembered.
In the bar, a woman straightens the chairs already leaning against the rain. The neighbour on the side opens the door with a loud “Bom dia!”.
Good morning was not the best word to describe that day because rain was pouring down, but the joy of the arrival of our group fills the day with hope. Even the sun seems to break through the clouds, even if just for a few seconds.
As I walk through the streets, I see the granaries or canisters, religiously aligned, as soldiers fulfilling their mission. They keep the village cereals, the beans and the corn. They accuse the passage of years, surmounted by inscribed dates and gleaming moss.
Everything and everyone in Sistelo sounds like the good old days, giving it a unique grace. The fountain, in the centre of the square, marks the meeting point and the details of the houses invite us to curiosity. Iron staircases, stone steps, sheer white draperies and half-open wooden doors are typical of a village where peace reigns. There is only one bar open in Sistelo, right next to the “Tasquinha”. It’s simple because life here wants to be like this. The conversations run smoothly, through the weather, the cousins, the photographs on the wall and the wine made by the grandson (delicious by the way).
How lucky to live in such a place … I sighed.
“Luck or bad luck,” a Sistelense soon replied.
“That the beauty of isolation has its price, but here, at least, no one dies at home and is only discovered days later! And it continued… If they do not appear until 10 a.m. in the streets, that means that we’ll go to their house to figure out what is happening! “
I shut up with that smile you get after an unexpected answer.
Since Sistelo was nominated one of the most beautiful villages in Portugal, it is slowly combating desertification. Tourists (mainly Spanish) are attracted by the famous terraces or “vertical cultivation ladders” that gave Sistelo the name “Tibetan Portugal”. I can not confirm that the name was well attributed because I’ve never been to Tibet, but I enjoyed what I saw. The Madeiran in me made me soon remember “the poios” of Madeira.
Portugal is like this, a box full of surprises. Everything so far away and yet so close.
I would like to stay there longer, to walk on those trekking paths and get lost in conversations with the locals Sistelenses. I imagine myself sitting in the little chair of the small bar or the wall next to the Church contemplating the mountain range of Penedo. We would indeed have lots of stories to share, good food, good wine and tranquillity.
Do you want more reasons to visit Sistelo? I leave you with a video of this beautiful village of Portugal.
Nearby there is much more to be discovered.
I suggest a visit to Paço de Giela, one of the most interesting and best preserved medieval houses I’ve ever been to. Stop at the Soajo, where a beautiful family of granaries (plus a black and white cat) contemplate one of the most breathtaking views I’ve seen. Of course, I do not forget to recommend, Arcos de Valdevez, where the river Vez flows (the least polluted river in Europe). Or let’s call it “Arcos de Valdevez where Portugal was made”, and where there are Arcuenses like Francisco, whom I met in the Library made me feel so proud of my country. There is nothing like the warmth of Portuguese hospitality, my friends!
Where to stay in Sistelo?
You can stay at Grandfather’s –Casa do Avô, at theCasa da Ferreirinhaor Casas da Peneda.
Festivals and Pilgrimages in Sistelo?
There are many! Check out the sites www.jf-sistelo.com for more info.