Trip to Portugal

Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture

Pico Island is a small Portuguese volcanic island whose fertile soils have helped grow some of the best wine producing grapes in the world. The island’s landscape showcases the best use of viticulture in Portugal that has been evolving since the arrival of the first settlers in the 15th century.

It is a depiction of the extra-ordinary abilities of Humans to build beautiful landscapes with stone walled fields. Pico Island’s beauty is the work of generations of farmers who converted a hostile environment into a place that could sustain living through the sale of much prized wine.

Until the 15th century, Pico had been uninhabited. Of the 9 islands of Azores, the Pico Island is the largest. The Pico Mountain dominates the landscape at the height of 2351 meters above the sea level. IT also happens to be the highest point in Portugal.

To the immediate south of the island’s main town of Madalena are the actively farmed viticulture vineyards.  The northern part of the town was also a farmland but it has since been abandoned. Today it is actively covered by beautiful vegetation made up of clumps of heather land that rises several meters high. In the larger Criacao Velha area, the Pico islanders still practice traditional winegrowing. They produce the sweet, much prized wine known as Verdelho.

Attractions

Rock tracks along shore and between the fields

Below the farmland you will get a chance to explore the strip of lava coastline that can be as deep as 100 meters. The area is exposed to wind and salt spray. Along the lave coastline is the famous ox track trails that were used to transport grapes from the vineyards.

Cellars, distilleries and warehouses

Near the cultivated lands you will find the wine cellars. The cellars are one or two storeyed buildings that were built from basalt stones and clay tile roofs. The buildings were seasonally inhabited during the grape harvest. The upper rooms were used for accommodation while the lower floors were used for storage. There are about 30 such cellars.

Small ports and harbors

You will find such ports at Lajido Village near Santa Luzia. Among the installations you will find here include the small quay, a church, warehouses, a manor house, a ramp for sea access, and an in situ museum.

Tidal wells

Due to surface water shortage, the islanders dug out wells from the rock to pick up underground watercourses.

Houses and churches

The other attraction in this ancient landscape is its houses and churches. The most prominent of these is the Cachorro de Santa Luzia. The area is characterized with vernacular architecture featuring white exteriors and rarely, black walled buildings.

Make sure you get a chance to visit Pico Island during your tour of Portugal.

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