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Penacova



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Nature was indeed generous here, raising hills and mountains, digging deep valleys or making the river Mondego paciently flow through copsewoods coloured with flowers, abrupt cliffs or plains carefully tended by man.

As if this wasn't enough, small white villages nestle on the slopes and proud wind-mills (at Portela de Oliveira and Gavinhos, for example) face the more inclement breezes blowing from the heights.

The lime-kilns at Casal de Santo Amaro never cease to interest visitors, and the landscape at the dams of Raiva and of Aguieira charms the eyes.

Penacova in itself is a very small and cheerful town, with a mild, dry climate and a characteristic luminosity which the sun shining on the slopes and the mirror-like waters of the Mondego bestow on it. Surrounded by green fields and set against the mountain, it is always lovely and specially so in February and March, when the golden mimosas in full bloom enhance its charm.

But the county also boasts of a religious and historical relic: the monastery of Lorvão. It was probably founded after the reconquest of Coimbra in 878 and grew famous for its illuminated manuscripts from the 12th century and the tombs of Saint Theresa and Saint Sancha.

The influence of the monastery on the local way of life was enormous; a curious example is the manufacture of toothpicks typical of the county, which are said to have been initially created by the nuns to decorate cakes and sweets.

In terms of gastronomy, the choice is simple: during winter the lampern reigns; spring brings other river flavours such as grilled trouts and fried fishlet, and the colder weather warms visitors up for roasted chestnuts, chanfana (kid stew in wine) and conventual sweets such as the pastéis de Lorvão, made with eggs and almond kernel.

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