January 22, 2020
The only way to make this journey is with a car or on a sightseeing trip. A bus system does travel through these areas, but it would take a small miracle to get it all coordinated.
We started from our Airbnb and headed to Ucanha because we were hungry. We had been told about a wonderful little restaurant located on the river in this small Roman town. Ucanha is about 30 minutes from Lamego and the drive is fascinating. This valley is abundant with pear, apple, persimmon, orange and lemon trees. The terraces that they grow on are all created by stone walls from the time of the Romans.
Our first stop was for lunch at Tasquinha do Matias. They don’t have a menu as they only offer four choices. We had the Corns to the Miller Henry stew. This stew for two is served in a cast iron kettle and is made with pork loin, ground corn, rocket and sausage. It is super thick and served with a basket of cornbread and a milled wheat bread. This was the most popular dish in the house next to the cod and potatoes.
Strolling around Ucanha doesn’t take very long. They have a bridge over the river, St John the Evangelist Church and a river walk area that is being built with trails and picnic areas. It’s a lovely little piece of history.
The next stop just a few miles down the road was the former Monestary and Church of St. John of Tarouca. This was the first Cistercian Monestary that was built in Portugal in the 1154. According to early records, these monks were dedicated to St. John instead of the Virgin Mary. In 1834, Portugal closed all monestaries and St. John’s became a local parish church. It is quite a Church for this rural area of Portugal.
Our last stop of the day was just outside the very small town of Ferreirim. It has an historic old convent that belonged to a chapter of Franciscan monks. It has been recently renovated.