Visiting the Centre of Portugal – The Charming Village of Piódão
Travel Obsessions By Louis Spencer JR | July 29, 2018
Nestled deep in the Serra do Açor mountains you’ll find Piódão. This sleepy little schist village is part of the Coimbra district, so technically (following my previous post) we weren’t out of the woods yet. Except that we were, literally and not metaphorically, since we spent over an hour scaling the mountains, passing through several forests by way of narrow roads and hairpin turns.The ever-accommodating Simply B team let me ride shotgun for this dizzying route (yay!) since I’m a giant baby who often experiences nasty motion sickness on journies like this one. I’m also pretty sure no one wanted to see what I had for breakfast, or there would be more lágrimas. And not the love story kind.
I seriously appreciated the front seat gesture you guys, because it meant I could focus without distraction on these incredible views. I don’t think I’ve ever described a day as beautifully gloomy, but that one certainly was. If the route looks that good on a dark and heavy day, imagine what it would look like in the sunshine? Or better yet, in the snow!
Is it raining? Fear not, the SimplyB team will whip out a bunch of sturdy golf umbrellas with their logo, ready to save the day. They honestly think of everything.
It was very upsetting to see the damage from the fires that broke out last June and then again October, just before our trip. So many people have lost their homes and over 100 lost their lives. Many people in this area are starting their lives over, so visiting the centre of Portugal would be a wonderful gesture of support to local businesses and towns. Despite the damage, you can see from the images the area is still beautiful. It’s so peaceful up in the mountains, the fresh crisp air and total silence feels like a mark of respect to those who lost their lives.
We then stopped once more to see Piódão from a distance. I would love to see this view at night, with all the little houses lit up. I’d say it’s very dreamy altogether.
Here we are, schist’nt it lovely? Yes, I went there. You all know by now that you’ll never get through one of my posts without a pun. Or several.
I forgot to take a picture when we arrived, but when we got out of the SimplyB mobile, we were right in front of a very different building. All the rest of the buildings in Piódão are uniform and schist, except for the church, Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Conceicao (quite the mouthful) which is completely white. It sticks out like a sore thumb, only likened to its neighbours by the touch of blue paint. Here’s what it looks like if you’re interested.
We went for lunch at O Fontinha, a very traditional restaurant serving up hearty mountain fare. Rustic food and wine, what more do you need when you’re up in the Serra do Açor?We were also in the presence of the mayor, who was enjoying his lunch when we arrived. That’s always a good sign.
See this piece of cheese on bread? Very delicious goat’s cheese, might I add. I have yet to meet a Portuguese cheese I don’t like. Also, how cute are the plates? Totally feeling those. I’d like some for myself. They’d look all kinds of nice in my kitchen.Anyway, trademark trailing off is happening. Back to the little snack. So…some bread, bitta cheese. Harmless enough right? WRONG. This is where my life changed. I was curious (shocker) so helped myself to the lemon butter on the table (double shocker) and HOLY COW. It was so good.A soft, crumbly (this bread was almost like cake) slightly sweet, creamy, tart snack. My taste buds were awakened! Not that they’re ever asleep, because I’m never too far from snacks, but you know what I mean.I enjoyed this lemon butter so much, that when everyone was chatting away and seemed kinda over the bread and cheese (blasphemy) I manoeuvred the little pots my way, ever so slightly, centimetre by centimetre, so that no one would notice. So I could have it all to myself. A very nice little Piódão delicacy that you’ll have to try for yourself someday!Yep, I just wrote an entire paragraph on lemon butter.
After LemonHeaven™ we had bucho de coja, goat tripe stuffed with various meats and rice, served with good ol’ broccoli.
Then chanfana, a stew made from goat meat, very typical in the centre of Portugal. I really enjoyed the chanfana, which is typically made in a wood-burning oven, cooked in a black clay pot.
Dessert was tijelada, a dessert made from eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. It’s very similar to crème brûlée, but it’s like its bigger, burlier cousin. It differs because the top is caramelised in the oven, which dries it out a bit. Since it’s a little drier, the texture is thicker and more sponge-like. The presentation, like the other dishes, was nothing fancy. Just good simple and honest food.
After lunch, we went for a walk through the little charming streets, with nothing but lovely things to look at. Goofball here nearly slipped a few times, that schist is a hazard when there’s rain afoot! Danger aside, Piódão was the kind of town made for postcards. I even met an adorable pup. You can see him above there. Such a sweet little dog, who I know is up in the mountains right now as I type this, probably enjoying all the lemon butter his little canine heart desires.
Verdict? I recommend a little stop in this magical town. For lunch or a coffee, it’s the perfect place. The museum is also worth a look, and I’d imagine it’s the pride of the town as it’s so well looked after. As we were saying goodbye to the mayor, he gave us each a bag with some information about Piodao and a wooden spoon, made right there in Piódão, which was very thoughtful.That spoon didn’t know what it was in store for, as I use it several days a week in my kitchen. And when I do, I often think of the town. Genius! That mayor should get himself a little marketing side hustle if you ask me.