In 2019, I went through many changes in my personal and professional life. So, by the end of the year, I felt the strong urge to recharge my batteries but at the same time go somewhere that feels like home, somewhere silent and calm. Mike and I needed some 'us-time' too and we also wanted to enjoy a bit of time with our friends. We chose to stay 3 nights at Serro da Volta, a vacation home by Casas da Serra Tavira. In July 2019 I already had the pleasure to write about their other vacation home Monte do Cansado.
Once again, Lia and Helge warmly welcomed us but this time on a sunny winter day in their first and own family vacation home, which lies alone in a sheltered valley, close to the village of Daroeira. I knew that Serro da Volta had been the beginning of their beautiful project Casas da Serra Tavira but was not aware of how special this place was for the family. Lina and Helge bought Serra da Volta already 20 years ago. The farmhouse and its surroundings were in a very bad shape, but they saw a huge potential. Back then, Lina and Helge were still living in Berlin, Germany. Serro da Volta was supposed to become their second home away from the busy German city. A place where they could enjoy Lina's home country and catch some rays of sun on grey days in Berlin.
The view to Serro da Volta from our hike.
What they didn't see coming was that they would be renovating Serro da Volta for the next 12 years. Lina wanted the house and surroundings to be renovated with care and to make a tribute to the local handcraft. It was very important to her that the neighbors were involved in the process, she wanted them to see her and her family as new members of the village. Therefore, she employed primarily local craftsman. They were furthermore the only ones who still knew how to do keep certain architecture elements of the houses (as for example the roof made of reeds and hand-crafted roof tiles). They all had other jobs, so the renovation work was mostly done on Saturdays. This is one of the reasons why it took so long to complete the project. Another challenge was that Lina and Helge were living in Germany, they were not on site as many time as it was necessary.
The house was renovated in the traditional Algarvian style by local craftsmen. The floors are made of hand-crafted terracotta tiles and the traditional “mosaico hidráulico” (colourful handmade cement tiles).
Eventually, Serro da Volta came to new life and the family started enjoying the stillness of their new home. Lina mentioned that the unexpected long process was actually the best thing that could have happened to them. It gave them time to think about every detail, to grapple with materials, construction details and last but not least to connect with the local people.
Serro da Volta is a very special place. It takes you back in time. In every corner you'll find traditional handcrafted objects, which reminded me of my grandparent's house in Alentejo. It is authentically a Portuguese home. However, the very traditional Portuguese interior has been perfectly combined with modern design details, shapes, colours and styles. The main house has five bedrooms, three of which are “en suite” (one with a separate entrance from the terrace), a large open-space kitchen and a bathroom. The second house Casa Branca is a separate apartment with a large living room/bedroom and a private bathroom. We visited Serro da Volta with some friends. They stayed in the main house with their three kids and Mike and I enjoyed the second house. This way we all had some privacy when needed.
Main house: dinning room and kitchen details
Traditional Portuguese home: bedrooms and bathroom details in the main house
In the third building, the Casa do Forno, there is a large, wood-fired bread oven and an extra refrigerator. The six terraces offer sunny as well as shady places. The 12.5-meter pool is surrounded by olive trees and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills. With a modern central heating in every room, Serro da Volta is one of the few places where you can enjoy the beautiful nature of the eastern Algarve during winter and spring season, when the beaches and hiking trails are empty, the plants are green, and the flowers are blooming.
Second house Casa Branca
Details of Casa Branca taken by my dear friend Vanda Scazzari
While staying at Serro da Volta we organized a family and friends lunch. My parents cooked a delicious meal for us. The weather was phenomenal, we ate outside at 22 degrees Celsius and in the afternoon the kids and Mike even tested the pool – crazy people! Our stay at Serro da Volta was perfect. We enjoyed every minute. It's the perfect place to spend some time with friends and family all year round. We did a hike on the surrounding hills (the views are amazing), spent a late afternoon in Cacela Velha, had a delicious dinner in Santa Lúzia (Marisqueira Capelo) and ended our stay with a magical sunset in Manta Rota. I'm still enchanted by all the beauty that surrounded us during those last warm December days in 2019.
On the beautiful terraces of Serro da Volta
Some impressions from our lunch. Soon Vanda and I will be sharing with you some exciting news!
We're a great team. Food pictures by Vanda Scazzari
All time favorite place: Cacela Velha
Sunset at Manta Rota beach
A big OBRIGADO to Lina and Helge for sharing with us their home and to my parents for cooking us a delicious Portuguese meal. See you soon!
More about Casas da Serra de Tavira and Serro da Volta: www.casas-da-serra.pt