11 September, 2015

Lady of the manor at Herdade da Retorta

This summer, in the middle of Portugal's Alentejo region I found a place that will steal your heart. Herdade da Retorta is a stunning early 19th century manor house on a 61 acre farm just outside the town of Serpa. As you drive up to the house, the first sight of it is quite overwhelming - it's simply stunning.

The owners, Gabriella and Carlos, are wonderful people who could not have done more for us. On our arrival they gave us a tour of the house to make sure we knew our way around; then sat us down for a drink - a much welcomed cold beer! They told us the best places to eat; what local delicacies to enjoy, and where to visit in the area.

After our little chat, the pool was too irresistible in the Alentejo heat - it can get VERY hot here in the summer months, and was around 38 degrees for my visit in July. On our first night, we were the only guests, therefore the only people using the pool - perfect! It is surrounded by loungers and deck chairs so we had our pick of them! Not only that, but the views over the Alentejo countryside are magnificent. 

So, what is there to do at night near the house? We ventured into Serpa in the evening during our stay (only breakfast is available at the house) and took up two of the suggestions of our hosts. Both their first and second choice restaurants were sensational, as were the local dishes - sopa de cação
and ensopado de borrego - simple food, with delicious flavours.

The highlight of Herdade da Retorta itself has to be breakfast - so good, and so large you will not need to eat lunch! We feasted on fresh melon; local bread, meats and cheeses; jams (made by Gabriella herself!) and local cakes. On top of all that, it's served in this stunning room (see photo above) with beautiful coloured glass windows, and incredible views. The little posies of fresh flowers on the table are a lovely touch. 

After two nights here, I have to say I was very jealous of Gabriella and Carlos - I wanted to up sticks and move in so I too could enjoy their beautiful home and relaxing surroundings! There is plenty to do in the area in terms of sightseeing, but depending on what time of year you visit - returning to the house and wonderful pool after hours in a hot car is the perfect way to end the day. I can't recommend it highly enough. "Ate siempre" Gabriella and Carlos! Top tip - this is a fantastic place to star gaze...look up and enjoy!

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