Weekend con gusto Weekend Europe

Weekend a Coimbra: sognando il Portogallo “dal vivo”


Today our destination is Coimbra, a wonderful city where you can breath the most authentic Portugal, to the notes of a fado sung in the street.
Coimbra is easily reacheble from Lisbon by train or bus. I chose the train and already from the arrival there were no surprises … Imagine a station with no underpasses between where you cross on the tracks

La stazione di Coimbra B, Severamente NON attraversare sui binari….

Coimbra, in the Beiras region, is one of the most important cities in Portugal, especially for the fame of its spectacular University, born in 1290, one of the five in the world listed as a World Heritage Site. During the academic year, students are seen in uniforms, with their black billowing cloaks, in the style of Harry Potter. Perhaps the author J.K. Rowling, who lived for two years in Portugal, took the inspiration here to dress the wizards of Hogwarts… . Let’s go inside, the University holds wonderful surprises: Capela de São Miguel Chapel decorated in gold with extraordinary frescoes and azulejos tiles Sala dos Capelos (Hall of the graduates) Decorated with portraits of Portuguese kings, it was once used as a hall of ‘exam. Torre dell’Orologio Terror of freshmen: it seems that when its tolls mark the end of their studies, veteran students begin a real hunt for freshmen. …Biblioteca Joanina
Recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, a gift from King João V in the early 1700s. It houses more than 300,000 books. Attention: photographs cannot be taken and access occurs in small groups every 20 minutes

Biblioteca Joanina , Photo from Web

Academic Prison
Right below the Library you will discover a punitive destination intended for students who misbehaved! Science and natural history museums The brand new Gabinete de Curiosidades awaits you here, an eclectic collection of “strange things” collected by adventurers, travelers and scientists of the past during their travels. Exotic animal skeletons, examples of stuffed fauna from former overseas territories, rare and fascinating minerals, Brazilian and African masks. All In a dark, magical, vaguely “horror” and very “Halloween” atmosphere, you will come out with some thrills. …

Gabinete de Curiosidades

Machado de Castro Museum Sculptures from the 14th to the 16th century, protected by striking vaulted arches. Santa Cruz Monastery Preserves the elaborate Gothic tombs of the first two kings of Portugal. The cloister is one of the purest examples of Portuguese Gothic architecture. Old Cathedral Church-fortress built at the end of 1100, surrounded by the tiny alleys populated by the repúblicas, the student residences New Cathedral Famous is its interior covered with splendid baroque altarpieces Portugal dos Pequenitos Tiny playground for children of five or six years Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery Ancient monastery from 1330, sunk by the river since the 17th century century. Today it is possible to stroll among the impressive ruins, while the museum tells about its past and the impressive renovation work. Monastero di Santa Clara-a-Nova  Dedicated to Queen Isabella called Santa because she used to help the poor and needy. The historic choir is a room where ancient statues are kept and is still used today by the clergy to attend religious services

Sepulcro de la infanta doña Isabel, Convento de Santa Clara la Nueva

Baixa, the lower city
It is the most modern part. Evocative view from the Ponte de Santa Clara, where the whole city is reflected in the river. Through the Arco de Almedina “, let’s climb along the Rua de Quebra Costas, the” hip-breaker “street, the perfect name for a zigzag of streets, alleys and stairways up to the upper town. “Tricana“, the woman from Coimbra.

“Tricana“, la donna di Coimbra.

Largo Portagem, surrounded by the most representative buildings of Coimbra such as the Banco de Portugal and the Hotel Astoria, and many bars and cafes. Jardim Da Manga Suggestive square with golden yellow domes
Jardim Botanico, full of fountains and flower beds of rare and exotic plants from all over the world, You can visit the most interesting areas such as the Sierra Grande, with tropical plants, the Tropical Corner with spemdide palm trees, the Cold Stove, with plants suitable for humid climates and the Bamboo Grove. Its greenhouse, added in 1859, was one of the first in iron and glass in history.
Parque verde do Mondego, 400,000 square meters of gardens, cycle paths, play areas, but also facilities such as cafes and restaurants. its mascot is a gigantic bear, a delight for the little ones

Jardim Botanico

Where to listen to fado in Coimbra
Fado is the typical Portuguese voice and guitar music, inspired by the melancholy feeling of the saudade. Listen to it in the streets, around corners, in the darkness of a park or in some cafes that offer fado shows for free or at the cost of the drink.
For a very suggestive moment, go and listen to it in Praça 8 de Maio, in the historic Café Santa Cruz.

Fado nella notte

Head towards the traditional tavernas, where you will find authentic dishes, accompanied by a good peasant wine, Many specialties with entrails, such as tripe and gizzards, or “pica-pau” bites of meat and vefetables stuck on toothpicks.

pica pau

Great dishes are arroz de Lampreia or the chanfana, goat meat cooked in red wine with garlic and bay leaf, often served in an earthenware tureen, accompanied by potatoes and boiled vegetables. The top? leitão assado, the delicious roasted suckling pig from the skin crunchy, which you can find in the narrow streets of the city. Among the most famous tavernas: Pedro dos Leitos, Rei dos Leitos, Mugassa. What a delicacy!

Un gustoso panino con leitao And in the glass? The recommended combination is a perfect OPTA Alfrochiero because its high acidity perfectly accompanies the savory taste of the leitao.

Coimbra is full of sweets almost all orange in color.. perhaps for the omnipresent pumpkin ?
Arrufadas, Arroz Doce, Sopa Dourada das Freiras de Santa Clara, Egg Pudding, Queijadas, Espigas de Milhom, the very sweet (even too much) Putim das Clarissas , the incomparable Pastéis de Tentúgal and those of Santa Clara, filled with egg jam and with a typical crescent shape. The most traditional cake is Fatia de Borgado do Bussaco, try it at Doce Meu, a pastry shop overlooking the square.

Fatia de Borgado do Bussaco, e il dolcissimo Putim das Clarissas,

WHERE TO SLEEP ( very very well  …)
Hästens Sleep Spa Coimbra
Coimbra is a city that requires an intense visit, full of discoveries, emotions and ups and downs … The mind and body will find great relaxation in this boutique hotel, and a spa … without a spa, where wellness is given not so much bya swimming pool or a jaccuzzi, but with perfect relaxation and rest offered by the rooms, the atmosphere, the service and the extraordinary Swedish Hastens mattresses, considered the number one in the world.It will be like entering a dream in which you are lulled by the power of rest .

The reception is a dazzling library made with more than 400,000 mosaic tiles, a tribute by Hästens Sleep SPA to the Joanina Library.
The hotel’s slogan is “Sleep better, live better” In fact, while you sleep, miracles happen. The body and mind work harmoniously so that you can live a better life. Sleeping is a natural process that cannot be replicated in any other way, especially if you are pampered by the famous Swedish mattresses that contain the finest linen, wool, cotton and genuine horsehair.

Only fifteen rooms, some with private balconies, all with walls covered with marble books, among which the names of illustrious writers stand out, from Shakespeare to Agatha Cristie, to Victor Hugo to Oscar Wilde.
The refined breakfast served at the table accompanied by sweet melodies played on the piano. I would like to make a brioche that drove me crazy, while a special mention goes to the moment of the Hight Tea on the terrace …
A classic London ritual just like the one at Buckingham Palace. Served on three-level trays, we find watermelon, dill, shrimp and mayonnaise sandwiches, the classic scones, slightly sweet mini sandwiches to be buttered with pineapple and mango jam and finally, the traditional bligny with salmon cream cheese, caviar topped with mini glasses of lavender cream and tartlets with lemon, meringue and berries ..
All preceded by Pommery champagne.
Well, that is classy…

Hight Tea di Hastens Sleep SPA Coimbra


     CESARE ZUCCA Travel, food & lifestyle.
Milanese by birth, Cesare lives between New York, Milan and the rest of the world. For WEEKEND PREMIUM he photographs and writes about cities, cultures, lifestyles. He likes to discover both traditional and innovative gastronomic delights. Cesare meets and interview top chefs from all over the world, ‘steals’ their recipes in a ”
non touristy tourist ” style