Figueiró dos Vinhos and the irresistible phenomenon of enchantment | Readers’ Escapes

I went to Figueiró dos Vinhos.

The people are simple friendly, unusual for someone who is used to the solitude of frenetic crowds in pale cities.

Figueiró dos Vinhos, a village in the inner center of this small country, in the district of Leiria, at the top of a gentle mountain range, surrounded by trees, streams and small rivers that draw the deep valleys, sculpting river beaches where you can have a snack listening to the fresh sound of the running water.

Figueiró dos Vinhos

José Malhoa, the people’s painter (who painted the famous picture of the fado singer sprawled on a tavern table, accompanied by a guitarist with a sloppy hat and a cigarette in the corner of his drunken mouth), fell in love with the crystalline and pristine light mountain range and built a house in Figueiró, straight out of a fairy tale and fauns, a magical and very romantic place.

“The Cocoon”. And what began as an escape to the countryside, to recover from the strife of cosmopolitan life, turned into a half-life of thirty years, where the naturalist painted a large part of his work, inspired by the wide views of the mountains, jagged dots on a patch of many greens, under the shadow of a clear sky, of a blue color that we don’t know how to name, but that Malhoa would know.

Cocoon, Figueiró dos Vinhos
Luis Robalo

Malhoa also founded the “Grupo do Leão”. In the café where they were in Lisbon, they learned the news of its closure and the artists in the group asked the waiter who served them what their future would be. And they announced at that time and time that where he went, they would go. He went to the establishment next door, a restaurant, and the group decided that each one would paint a picture to decorate the new space (António Ramalho, João Vaz, Henrique Pinto, Ribeiro Cristino, Cipriano Martins, José Malhoa, Moura Girão, Rodrigues Vieira and Columbano himself. The creators of Portuguese naturalism, a movement led by Silva Porto). The new establishment was named “Leão d’Ouro”.

Figueiró dos Vinhos

Figueiró is a village with a human dimension: the number of people is sufficient for a harmonious community, and, because good secrets are whispered by word of mouth, citizens of other countries are settling in small villages and farms in the municipality, new energies to recharge the batteries of this sadly aging country.

The friendliness of the people alone would make it worth a visit, but when you arrive and look around, you experience the irresistible phenomenon of enchantment. A land that still has a primordial nostalgia, a throb of new roots that want to germinate.

Figueiró has a shale village (São Simão) and a sponge cake that measures up to rivals. Come and enjoy.

Luis Robalo (text and photos)
blog author Round Vocabulary

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