Saturday, October 20, 2012

A doer-upper

Aldeia da Mata Pequena is a small rural village on the extreme outskirts of Lisbon. The village is one of only a handful of Portuguese villages that have been bought in total and restored as holiday destinations. This whole village (although only 7 or 8 houses) has been taken from the jaws of decay and restored to create a 'traditional' Portuguese village. Complete with little old lady, dressed in black from head to toe.

We stayed there recently on a trip to the area for a wedding. The self-catering houses are basic but beautiful, resulting in some creature comforts (fridge, tv) but traditional features (two ring cooker, no fire place but a wood oven) creating what their website calls a 'balanced restoration'.

The village has won awards for this balanced restoration, using traditional materials such as, lime mortar, poplar, cedar and pine timber work, barrel roof tiles, stone flooring, wood-fired floor tiles, lime-washed walls. Traditional outbuildings such as hen houses, wells, pens, pigsties, and dovecots… have been preserved, as well as ovens, salting tubs, stone counters

It is stunning, but I cannot help feeling this is what Disney would do if they restored an old Portuguese village. Is it possible that something so lovely can be too beautiful? Too perfect? Too picturesque?

Take our village for example. It's small, it only has a handful of permanent residents, and it could be stunning (ahhh I feel bad for the village now, it is stunning, but just not in the same way)...let me show you....


Street in Pera

Street complete with old lady in Mata Pequena
 So, not much difference, just add an old lady (we have plenty to go around) take down the cement wall and you've got it.

Take one tumble down house and restore it to glory in Mata Pequena

Take one of the many houses in Pera and do it up
 Quite a few 'doer upers' in Pera to take your pick from

Stone building, complete with cute cat in Mata Pequena

Stone building in need of love in Pera
 The cats come free with every purchase here, or dog in fact.  That's one thing these villages have in common...people dump their pets here.  The cat in the photo above was dumped at Mata Pequena (but adopted that day by a couple from Lisbon).  They told us, many people come to visit the village and because there are a few village animals, they bring back their unwanted pets to let them free in the village.  It's illegal whichever way you look at it - but people still do it.  Here, I've counted two new strays in the last week...that's just the dogs.
I've put this photo in cos I like it!

The picture perfect village scene in Mata Pequena

Not quite some perfect but certainly lovely in Pera

So, do you get what I mean by 'Disney'...? It's maybe just too perfect. Just maybe you need a tumble down house, the glass bin in need of emptying and a dog poo in the road to make it feel real.. It would be lovely to live in a village where every house is picture perfect, but that takes investment which means foreigners....and we couldn't have that. Could we!?

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