The direct route from Vila Vicosa to Flor da Rosa probably only takes two hours but one of the aims of travelling is exploration and learning and so we lingered along the way. We chose country roads rather than the motorway because we wanted to enjoy the views, the trees and the flowers.
Winter flood damage
In the tourist office in Monforte we heard there had been very heavy rains over the winter. Several towns were cut off, or flooded and this was not the only road which had been damaged.
Monforte is a small walled town which sits on top of a hill overlooking the Ribeira Grande and the lush Alentejo. We had stopped here before and, as before, wandered round the walls, enjoyed the views and then settled down to a coffee before moving on.
Habitation in this area has been traced to the Neolithic period, 10,000-2,000BC, and there are also many Roman remains – villas, bridges, roads. Today life appears very quiet indeed and we were told many residents are keen to sell up.
The Church of Santa Maria Magdalena stands just outside the town walls and today it is a museum with Roman and other artefacts. It was closed when we walked past but I peered in through an open door to see someone undertaking what looked like restoration work.
But it was the countryside which made the day special. We drove through cork oaks, olive trees, endless vineyards and fields and fields of wild flowers.
Flor da Rosa Monastery
The Monastery dates from the 14th century and is now a Pousada and a magnificent hotel in a small village up the road from Crato. We have stayed here several times in the past so may I direct you to a post from a few years ago; nothing changes!
The time in Vila Vicosa was all too short and we were on the road again, travelling from Vila Vicosa to Flor da Rosa where we settled for the next five nights.
Further posts on these areas: