During the late nineteenth-century coffee boom, the interior of São Paulo state was synonymous with coffee, and the area around São Carlos, now a bustling university city 140km northwest of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, was particularly productive. Today the farms around the city are largely given over to sugar cane and oranges, and little evidence remains of the area’s coffee-producing past. However, the Fazenda Pinhal, one of the oldest surviving and best-preserved rural estates in the state of São Paulo, is well worth a visit. The casa grande, the main house, was built in 1831 and, typical of the period, modelled after the large, comfortable Portuguese city dwellings of the eighteenth century; it still retains its original furnishings and there are numerous outbuildings, including senzalas, the slave quarters. It’s possible to stay the night in tasteful, country-style rooms on the estate. The fazenda is an easy day-trip from Campinas – and, at a stretch, São Paulo – but you’ll need your own transport. Located off the SP-310 highway, at Km 227 take the exit for Riberão Bonito and then turn immediately onto the much smaller Estrada da Broa. After about 4km you’ll see a sign marking the fazenda’s entrance. It’s essential to call in advance; the entrance charge is R$15, plus R$40 for an excellent two-hour tour – a fixed fee for either a large group or an individual.
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