Hawks and flavors of Ribatejo one day
Wine tourism tour around Lisbon, with wine tasting, snack and lunch, where we begin by crossing the Tejo (Tagus) river towards the Lezíria grassy plain. On the way we contemplate this fertile agricultural region where Lusitanian and Sorraias horses graze, as well as cattle. In Salvaterra de Magos we´ll visit the Royal Falconry (1), to know the history of hunting with hawks at the XVIII century court. We´ll see live hawks and other raptors, one flight display and hunting in the field simulation. Then it´s time to taste a typical Ginginha at a local producer, before moving up to a wine production farm (2) of Tejo wines. If it doesn´t rain, we will make a tour around the farm, to see the vineyard, the cork oaks and the olive grove and “éguada” (breeding mares and their colts). The taste of some Tejo wines will be accompanied by a small snack of traditional portuguese delicacies. After lunch in Almeirim, the capital of Sopa de Pedra (Soup Stone), we´ll visit the Casa dos Patudos (Patudos House) in Alpiarça (3), a XIXth century mansion filled with art collections. Before returning to Lisbon is time to pass by the typical fishermen village of Escaroupim (4), whose houses are wooden-stakes. If you prefer you can choose, after lunch, to visit part of the historic center of Santarém(5), Portugal's capital of Gothic, to enjoy among others the Church of Grace, where is buried the discoverer of Brazil, Pedro Alvares Cabral.
1. At the Royal Falconry, in Salvaterra de Magos, we´ll learn about the art of hunting with falcons in Portugal. You 'll enjoy the various species of hawks, as well as other birds of prey. In falconry always existed several species of hawks, which were used according to their skills for the various types of hunting: for high altitude flights or low altitude; to hunt rabbits and hares and pheasants or ducks. We have the opportunity to enter into two dovecotes of the XVIIIth century restored, the only in the Iberian Peninsula. Here lived the pigeons that served food and game training for the falcons. Finally, in the open field we´ll see a magnificent demonstration of the falconer technique and the bird ability.
2. In a renowned producer of Tagus Wines (Casa Cadaval or Quinta do Casal Branco) will see the production process of wines and made a ride tractor through the fields. This tour, however, depends on good weather conditions. Then prove some wine with bread, cheese and sausages. Producers of ribatejo are not dedicated only to the vineyard, they also produces cork, olive oil and seasonal crops (rice, tomatoes, peppers, melons, cereals). Some of them have a stud farm, dedicated to Lusitano horses, and/ or cattle breeding. Let's see all of this on the tour. On the past Ribatejo produced huge quantities of wine, to restaurants and taverns of Lisbon, as well as the former colonies. At that time the objective was the quantity and not the quality. In the last 20 years, the region has undergone changes in the fields and in the cellars: the amount of wine decreased but the quality has increased. The large concrete bunkers with millions of liters of wine were replaced by stainless steel tanks, cooling systems and oak barrels for nectars aging.
3. We lunch in Almeirim, famous for “Stone Soup”. The fighting bull, river fish, cod and sausages are also part of the local cuisine, not forgetting the typical wheat bread, the caralhotas, and the melon. The Ribatejo weather is Mediterranean temperate, with mild seasons, but with the influence of the Tagus river in temperature and soil fertility. Along the banks of the river the soil is more fertile, due to winter flooding. However, more far away from the river, the land is poor, dry and chalky, but the grapes ripen better. Among the typical red varieties from Ribatejo are Trincadeira and Castellão. As the legislation allowed the introduction of other Portuguese and foreign varieties, it is possible to produces red Ribatejo wine with Touriga Nacional, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The most planted white grape variety s Fernão Pires, sometimes mixed with Arinto, Talia, Trincadeira das Pratas Vital or with the international Chardonnay. As for taste, whites are very fruity, with tropical or floral scents. The reds are young, aromatic, smooth tannins.
4. A little further north, at Alpiarça, we´ll have the opportunity to know a beautiful mansion belonged to Joseph Mascarenhas Relvas - statesman, diplomat and Republican from the mid-XIXth century until 1929. The mansion called Casa Patudos owes its name to the fact that there are many ducks on site. The house have many interesting collections of furniture, porcelain, paintings, sculptures and tapestries. José Relvas was one of the chosen to proclaim the Portuguese Republic on 5 October 1910.
5.Before the return, we stopped at Escaroupim, typical tagus village surrounded by natural beauty. This village was born around 1930, with the nomadic fishermen who left Vieira de Leiria (north) during the winter due to bad sea conditions, to come fishing in the Tagus. As now occurs, small colored wood houses were based on stilts, to avoid flooding. We can visit one of them. Here is possible to see numerous species of birds: herons, black ibis, spoonbills, kites and booted eagle. In the fields we observe the white stork, the common kestrel, the bee-eater, the lark of saves and the swallow barriers.
6. If you prefer, after lunch we can go to the historic center of Santarém, to visit the Church of Grace, built in XIVth century by the Hermits of St. Augustine Order. It has two Gothic styles: the mendicant, austere, religious inspiration; and the flaming, ostentatious, present in the front portal and its rosacea. Due to economic difficulties, this church took almost a century to be built and was completed in the second half of the XVth century. It has a large collection of mausoleums and lord sepulchral slabs. It is buried in shallow grave the discoverer of Brazil (1500), Pedro Alvares Cabral, and the Governor of Ceuta, D. Pedro de Menezes and his wife, in a tomb with a magnificent work of sculpture, based on eight lions.