24. Jul, 2017

Our Dear Friends Fatima and Luis visit Barbeita

Our Dear Friends Fatima and Luis visited us the other day, it was really great as we had not seen them in a while. It was really wonderful having this fantastic couple over, it was a short visit but we had time to show them a bit of the country side and also to cook a simple but delicious dinner.

The presence of our friends in the kitchen was an awesome experience (definitely to be repeated) which was continued with some great discussions and laughter over coffee leading into the wee hours of the morning. 

Being their first time up north during the summer period they enjoyed very much the scenery which is dotted with hundreds of Alvarinho vineyards that stretches on for miles.

At this time of the year the vineyard green is so beautiful and the scent of the grapes that are sarting to ripe is something to experience.

We drove to the top of the “Our Lady of the Assumption hill” , from this point one can see for miles with a 360º view possibility. On the top of the hill a Fortified Castro can be found, dating back to the de iron age and roman occupation. This fort has been partially excavated with a magnificent landscape,. The excavations started in 1981 and its believed to be a fortified mound from the 5th century BC to 1st century AD. Two rows of completed fortification walls and a third partially recognizable have been excavated. The central enclosure has approximately an oval shape. Also found were circular structures, sculptures, sinks, foundry moulds, slag, brass hairpin, grinding stones, weights for fishing nets and various broken pieces of ceramic.

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption is believed to have been founded by the lords of the Palace of Barbeita (Casa do Paço), in 1825, as the Parochial Registers reveal. The foundation of the Palace of Barbeita dates to the beginning of the XIV century, belonging to the Abreu family, the most powerful family of the time, living on this side of the river Minho. Álvaro Afonso, son of the founder Peres Anes de Abreu, was born in the year 1485 and his wife Grimaneza Pereira de Castro, instituted the manor house of Barbeita by deed of 4 June 1547 in the notary of Monção. It is erected on top of the commonly known as “Monte de Nossa Senhora da Assunção” and near the Fortified Castro(mentioned earlier). The Chapel of S. Assunção denotes a harmonious morphology that integrates perfectly in the natural environment that surrounds it.

Our house is situated in the parish of Barbeita which is located at the northern end of the municipality of Monção (north of Portugal and neighbors the parishes of Merim, Tarendo, Santiago, Cabo, Ponte de Mouro, and a few more . The population is mainly engaged in agriculture, livestock, winemaking (mainly Alvarinho wine), some commerce and industry. The inhabitants are around 1060 that  live here all year round, but during summer it grows to around 2000 people due to the influx of families that live abroad or in Lisbon but are originally from Barbeita and come to spend the summer holidays here.

Both Fatima and Luis loved the surroundings and experienced the peaceful, luxurious tranquillity of nature surrounded by mountains and the Mouro and Minho rivers. The source of the river Mouro is in Lamas de Mouro, Melgaço,  which is the result of the junction of three springs, all in this parish: one in Pito's Head, another in Portela, the Lagarto and the last one in Trincheira. It travels about 30 kilometers until it flows into the left bank of the River Minho in the parish of Ponte de Mouro.

The River Minho is the longest river in Galicia, Spain, with a length of 340 kilometres through its course it waters vineyards and farmland, also used to produce hydroelectric power, and delineates a section of the Spanish–Portuguese border. In ancient English maps, it appears as Minno. The source of the Minho lies about 50 kilometres north of Lugo in Galicia, in a place called Pedregal of Irimia. The river passes just south of the walls of this old Roman city and flows south through canyons until the valley widens north of Ourense. About 20 kilometres north of Ourense at Os Peares, the Minho receives the waters of its main tributary, the Sil. Passing Ourense, there is one major dam at Frieira near the town of Ribadavia, which is famous for its Ribeiro wine (called after the name of the region).

Later on, the river flows in a southwest direction until reaching the Portuguese border near Melgaço. After 260 kilometres through Galicia, the Minho sets the border to Portugal for about  80 kilometres , mainly towards the west. The valley is a lush, green agricultural area where the land is used to produce corn, potatoes, cabbage, even kiwi fruit, or just grass, depending on the time of year. Everywhere edging the fields, rivers, gardens, wherever there is space one can is delighted by the sight of vineyards which produce the light,slightly sparkling “Vinho Verde” and the Ribeiro wine, both peculiar to this area. The very best of these wines is without a doubt the Alvarinho in Portuguese or Albariño in Spanish and Galician, which is produced in the area around Monção, Arbo and Melgaço. Passing the medieval towns of Melgaço and Monção, the Minho divides the Spanish Tui and Portuguese Valença do Minho, towns that guarded an important bridge for road and rail. Both towns preserve fortifications and are national monuments. The Minho finaly reaches the Atlantic between the Galician A Guarda and the Portuguese Caminha.

Well!! to finalize just to add that, dinner was simple with a menu that consisted of a lettuce and tomato salad, tomato rice (malandrinho portuguese style wet tomato rice) together with Bolinhos de Bacalhau - Salt Cod Fish Cakes, Rissóis de Camarão - Shrimp Turnovers. frango no churrasco”  Barbequed Chicken with a fantastic lemon and butter sauce, washed down with Alvarinho wine ( well I had Infusion of Forest Fruits which is a Mixture of blueberries, red currants, blackberry, etc.) As mentioned previously Luisa and I had a fantastic time with Fatima and Luis,I am convinced that material things can contribute a lot to making one's life pleasant, but, basically, if you do not have very good friends and relatives who matter to you, life will be really empty and sad and material things cease to be important. See you soon my dears.