We visit the Algrave each September and for some time have wanted to get up into the Alentejo region to get a sample of inland Portugal. How glad we are that we finally got round to it and thankful that we made a good selection in booking Casa Pinto.
Firstly, the village is nothing short of beautiful, steeped in history with views of the surrounding countryside that really give you the true feel of what Portugal is all about. You could not call it touristy as it not suited to cars (indeed we almost got a ticket for parking in an area for residents only) or even pedestrians in anything but sensible footwear. All vehicles must be parked outside the village walls during the day and luggage needs to be carried up to the hotel.
There is no signs of Health & Safety with high walls and escarpments with no handrails or fencing. You have to be careful climbing the steep narrow steps but the reward is the sight of looking down on the rooftops and terraces gardens laid out below.
On to Cases Pinto. This is a very special place. From the moment we entered the impressive hallway on arrival until we departed the following morning we were enveloped in a feeling of spiritual serenity. The room, we had the Macao, was decorated authentically in oriental furniture with subtle lighting. There is no window in the room, but this does not detract from its quality, however there is a ventilation window high up in an alcove that can be reached by way of a pole. The smallish on-suite is well appointed with a good shower and the quaintest bowl-like wash basin.
The terrace looks North over red roofs of properties below and on to the open countryside and hills. It is said that the sky above Monsaraz is amongst the darkest in Europe. Having witnessed it we can well believe that this is a true claim. After a very enjoyable meal in the restaurant next door we sat on the terrace with a bottle of Alentejo red wine transfixed by the masses of bright stars in the jet black sky and pondered the meaning of life.
During a walk round the castle before breakfast we discovered the small bullring which is still is use during the annual festival.
We ate breakfast outside in the gardened terrace which, in line with the rest of the property, is set out tastefully and to the highest quality. The lemon tree is full of fruit and has a Buda sitting below. There is a small babbling stream in the corner and the fragrant scent of a joss stick burning. I love the way they make coffee in Portugal but the one served with my breakfast was the best I have ever tasted. How can everything be so exceptionally good??
There are no catches with Casa Pinto - it is whatever you make it. We loved it and cannot wait to return. Next time we will know what to expect and will savour every moment.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Pinto House is a charming hotel in the historic village of Monsarz Alentejo area is located in the town square opposite the churchThe village rises on the Great Lake Alqueva. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Casa Pinto Hotel Monsaraz