Photos Credit: Columbia Hillen
Aside from the accustomed affability of Portuguese people, and their accomplished wine and food, blockage at a alone acreage in a rural ambient with an authentic, 300-year-old history is an added delight. Particularly so if it happens to be the hilltop, four-star, 46-room Palácio da Lousã. Located in the centermost of Lousã in axial Portugal, 20 afar southeast of Coimbra and a two-hour drive arctic of Lisbon, this old-world auberge was aforetime the alcazar of the Viscountess of Espinhal.
Such is its faculty of history, alike the broad, asphalt aperture off the city artery conjures up images of august horse-drawn carriages advancing and going, their owners headed to, or abiding from, assorted aristocratic soirees. Two ample Greek urns alfresco its doors adumbration at the celebrated breeding within.
Our absorbing first-floor room, cardinal 10, accepted bird-like angle over the surrounding forested countryside, advertence aloof why this was called as the armpit for such a palace. Perched aerial aloft the surrounding landscape, including beauteous angle of the Lousã mountains, it dominates the breadth for abounding afar in all directions, a rather alarming position abnormally important in canicule of yore, centuries ago back battles were waged amid clashing factions over admired territories.
Immediately above from our allowance was a magnificent, continued salon, extending over four apartment with intricately carved doors amid each. Here, shelves of books, glass-topped coffee-tables plied with bright magazines, blind affected portraits of above owners, comfortable bendable armchairs, abridged plants, funky, cottony cushions with dog images imprinted on them, an accessible fireplace, and alike a colorfully-painted, decorative, mini-altar in account of the Virgin Mary, bid guests to sit and rest. The aggregation of ornately carved copse doors, panels and frames adds a faculty of aesthetic history.
Breakfast at Palácio da Lousã is buffet-style and captivated in an L-shaped allowance overlooking the hotel’s gardens, terraces, alfresco pond basin and the blooming hillsides beyond. Algid cuts, beginning breads and adorable bounded honey are amid the highlights.
Sheer beheld amusement accompanies dinner, which takes abode in cozy, adorned ambient in a first-floor allowance beaming with corrective ceiling, bank murals of flowers and plants, cornices, intricate adhesive moldings, and delicate, hand-carved facades on doors and plinths. Table presentation comes complete with spotless white linen and a boutonniere abounding with beginning flowers. Warm, affable and able account from our waiter, Joao Garcia, alone added to our evening’s pleasure.
Under the accomplished chef, Filipa Cruz, the card is a absolute one, comprised of assorted meat, angle and pasta dishes, with starters alignment from adolescent tataki with guacamole and Japanese booze to goat’s cheese with amazon bonbon in a breath pastry.
Being a hillside area (and actuality athirst afterwards a continued drive from Lisbon), we autonomous for abundant meat dishes over the bacteria seafood—for starters, guinea fowl absolute bonbon with foie gras, carrots and vegetable rice, and bairn pig with carrots borsch and turnip. Both were accompanied by a 2013 affable red from the 150-acre acreage (vineyard) of Foz de Arouce, which has a continued history of winemaking affiliated to the fable of the Arab King Arunce who congenital a alcazar in the region. A Roman alley runs through the acreage and the best is a alloy of baga and touriga grapes.
On our additional night, our choices consisted of alkali cod bonbon with chickpeas and absolute cabbage; avoid and foie gras cannelloni with tomato, chrism and basil sauce—the closing bowl one of the highlights of our cuisine adventure in Portugal—and shrimps and porcini (boletus edulis) risotto. This time, a dry white wine was our aqueous accompaniment, a 2013 Pai Abel from the Bairrada acreage fabricated with bical and maria Gomez grapes, additionally accepted as fernão pires.
Lousã is the affectionate of above boondocks area time takes a accessory role to conversation. The bounded column appointment provided a absolute archetype of this. Seeing both books and music CDs for auction there, but not alive Portuguese writers or performers, I asked the saleslady for her opinion. That chat took several account with the admirable adult allurement her aide for a additional assessment and added barter agreeable in with theirs.
The adorable landscapes about Lousã are able-bodied account exploring, abnormally the absorbing Aldeias do Xisto, a alternation of villages of athletic houses fabricated from schist bean that adhere stubbornly to the mountainsides at abrupt angles, actual rustic retreats abroad from burghal overcrowding. We enjoyed a comfortable breach while speaking to locals and feasting on candy of algid cuts and cheese at Cordeira Village and watched the sun accelerate bottomward beneath the mountains.
Try your luck with agrarian game, including deer and agrarian boars in their accustomed habitat, or appointment celebrated sites such as the medieval Arouce Alcazar and the wells of the Real Neveiro, area ice was already stored in the winter for the King’s apartment in Lisbon. Tomar, a arresting alcazar congenital by the abstruse medieval Templar order, is an hour’s drive south forth the highway, while Coimbra is aloof 12 afar away.
With account and aliment actuality accomplished and the actual ambient intriguing, there is alone one botheration with Palácio da Lousã—its appraisement policy. For its abounding qualities, prices should be increased. As it is, it’s abundant amount for money, so bustle afore the abstruse gets out.
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