Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way


Aonghas looking down the road towards Piódão, uma das mais bonitas Aldeias Históricas Portuguesas (one of the more beautiful Historical Villages of Portugal) which is roughly 10km as the açor flies from our quinta, though more like 30km if you have to rely on wheels and at least some tarmac to drive them on.

Aonghas looking down on Piódão

On the way, we had clear views through the mountains towards snow-capped Torre, Portugal’s highest mountain in the Serra da Estrela.


Piódão is reached from any direction by at least 20-30km of single track roads through steep mountains, 50% dirt track most of the way we came, with a notable shortage of crash barriers, but we still ran into a coach party and a brand spanking new megahotel when we arrived, the latter looking completely incongruous and way out of scale, time and place perched on a ridge overlooking the village.

Piódão is about the same size as Benfeita and touristy, but neither slick, sick, lobotomised nor prostituted enough to have lost its soul or become a caricature of itself … yet. Stallholders and restauranteurs hustled, but nicely and with some genuine humanity, and without the in-your-face ruthlessness, relentlessness and cynicism encountered in the more jaded tourist towns of the Algarve, like Faro. The food we ate was fine and some of the local craftwork on sale not only useful but reasonable value.

Even in January, it was difficult to see how any more vehicles could have been crammed into the village’s only parking area, so perhaps it’s this limitation that saves its sanity for now.

Piódão exemplifies the typical narrow stone streets, slate roofs and schist walls of the aldeias do xisto (schist villages) of the Serra do Açor.

Typical street in Piódão

Typical street in Piódão – everything made of stone

Slate roofs, schist walls - Piódão

Slate roofs, schist walls

The blue doors of Piódão

The blue doors of Piódão

Piódão church

Piódão church – ornate and finely crafted icing sugar confectionary in stark contrast to the ubiquitous rough organic natural stone

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