SOAJO is something of a puzzle. Set in a broad, fertile valley, amid a network of ancient cobbled tracks, cultivated fields and watermills, with higher grazing lands beyond, it’s both a surviving centre of rustic tradition and designated centre for rural tourism. On the one hand, there are goat-herders, elderly black-clad widows and an ancient pelourinho in the time-worn central square; on the other, the stone houses are scrubbed suspiciously clean and linked by pristine paved alleys winding past carefully tended gardens filled with fruit trees and trellised vines. It’s an idealized version of rusticity perhaps, but it does mean the village continues to thrive – and that staying in a beautifully renovated traditional house here or in neighbouring Lindoso is a joy. It also means that there’s a better-than-usual chance of something reasonable to eat with a couple of restaurants on the main road outside the village, and a café or two and a bakery inside the village. As in Lindoso, the main sight is a grouping of preserved espigueiros (grain houses), set apart from the houses on higher ground at the edge of the village. The best local walk is a four-kilometre return route via the neighbouring village of Adrão, along a cobbled lane with ruts worn into the stones over the centuries by ox carts.

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