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The Bread-Oven Cottage

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Farm stay
hosted by Miranda
  1. 4 guests
  2. 1 bedroom
  3. 2 beds
  4. 1 bath
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Perched on a hill on a quinta once owned by Dominican monks, the cottage is a tranquil base for exploring the Alentejo countryside, convenient for many delightful day-trip destinations (see "The Neighborhood"). Closer to home, relax by the pool, stroll in the 15-hectare olive grove or along the lovely quiet road to Varche, grill on the patio, or wander around the lovely World Heritage fortress town of Elvas, 5 km away.

The space
Our quinta is perched on a hilltop, with views over oranges and old olive trees to the mountains of Spain. At night, the stars are bright, and the lights of Olivenza, Spain, shine against the distant mountains. The music of neighbors' sheep bells competes with the songs of birds (among them hoopoes, swallows, bee eaters, tawny and little owls, and nightingales, depending on the season) . Our 15-hectare olive grove is a magical place to explore, and a valuable wildlife habitat.

The cottage's sheltered patio offers a view, beyond a courtyard shaded by wisteria, past the quinta's entrance arch toward the mountains of Spain. Windows at the back in the kitchen and living room look out into the olive grove.

At one side of the patio is the forno (bread oven; much like a tandoori oven or traditional pizza oven) for which the cottage is named, and which was once used by all the inhabitants of the quinta. (There is a smaller grill for you to use more conveniently!) The garden in front of the cottage contains rosemary and other herbs as well as roses, geraniums, a fig tree, a young lemon tree, and much more.

The cottage was remodeled in 2015, with entirely new wiring, roof, windows, tile, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing, but retains its original charm. Its thick stone walls and double-glazed windows—equipped with pull-down netting to keep out insects while letting in the cool night air—make it quiet, comfortable, and energy efficient.

The living room is furnished comfortably with a sofa and armchair and a small wood-burning stove (we provide wood). The eat-in kitchen is small but well equipped with refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, microwave, and everything needed for basic cooking and dining (if you don't see what you need, ask: we can usually provide it). There is a small table in the kitchen that can be extended.

The bedroom has a double bed, a chest of drawers, and a place to hang up clothes (with hangers). The sofa in the living room opens to a comfortable double mattress—however, the living room is the entrance room, and not very private, so the cottage is best suited to a couple with children, or good friends who don't need a lot of privacy.

Both kitchen and bathroom are decorated with hand-painted reproduction 17th- and 18th-century azulejos from Viuva Lamego in Lisbon.

Where you'll sleep

What this place offers

Courtyard view
Garden view
Kitchen
Wifi
Free parking on premises
Shared outdoor pool - available all year, open 24 hours
Pets allowed
AC - split type ductless system
Private patio or balcony
Shared backyard – Not fully fenced

Where you’ll be

Elvas, Portalegre, Portugal

The tiny road to the nearest village of Varche winds for 2 km (1.25 miles) through olive groves and fields studded with holm oaks. Sheep can often be seen grazing unfenced along the roadside, an enchanting sight and sound, with the sheep's bells ringing.

There are spectacular views of Elvas and the distant mountains of Spain at the top of the village and just outside it (Elvas and its two forts can also be seen from the top of our olival). In the village are several restaurants, our favorite, Casa Alentejo, outstanding for its regional cuisine (it is very popular with the Spanish on the weekends, so best enjoyed in the evening or on weekdays). Very good wine from the local vineyards of Juromenha can be bought at the Varchotel shop.

A riding stable in Varche, Centro Hipico de São Bras, offers lessons for everyone from tiny child to experienced riders on suitable horses, and hacks out at extremely reasonable rates. The head instructor speaks English.

Our local bike shop has branched out to offer bird-watching tours, boating on the Guadiana river, and other activities. We can arrange bookings in advance.

The ancient fortified border town of Elvas (5 km from our front gate) is a fairy-tale place, with its steep, narrow streets, intimate castle, beautiful churches, tiny, poignant English Cemetery, and dramatic Amoreira aqueduct. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012 for its extensive walls and ramparts, which, along with its satellite fortresses, Santa Lucia and the recently beautifully restored Graça, constitute the largest and best-surviving bulwarked dry-ditch fortification system in the world.

Day Trips

Elvas is an excellent base from which to explore many of the most beautiful spots in the upper Alentejo. Some of our favorite places and festivals within an hour or so's drive:

Estremoz, a 40-minute drive east, has a bustling market every Saturday morning, with everything from chickens, vegetables, and trees to old farm tools, tiles, pottery, and furniture on sale.

Badajoz (26 km/35 minutes):
Just across the border is the Spanish town of Badajoz with historical sights, a large water park, golf courses, a large shopping mall, and many restaurants and cafes.

Juromenha (16 km/19 minutes):
A magical ruined fortress, almost untouched by tourism, with Islamic walls, 17 towers, 45-meter-high keep, and spectacular views of the broad Guadiana River far below. A footpath runs along the river north and south of the fortress.

Olivenza, Spain (31 km/39 minutes) is a peaceful and picturesque town that blends Spanish and Portuguese heritage, with a long palm-lined square where people eat and drink in the evenings.

The Ponte de Ajuda (Puente Ayuda; 17 km/25 minutes)
On the road to Olivenza, this is a beautiful place for a picnic on the rocks by the river.

Marvao (84 km/80 minutes)
This otherworldly tiny fortress town perched on a ridge of rock high above the Alto Alentejo may be our favorite place—we have been known to drive up just to have a walk around and a sunset drink, the ultimate quick getaway. There are two great festivals in Marvao: the fantastic Al-Mossasa Islamic festival ("the Festival of Three Cultures," in cooperation with the Moroccan national tourism board), in early October, and the internationally famous 10-day Marvao International Music Festival (July 22 to 31 in 2016), with artists such as the Gulbenkian Choir, the Novus String Quartet, the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, the Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble, the Wiener Klaviertrio, and many others.

Evora (84 km/1 hour)
Our favorite place in this very elegant city is the little Roman temple.

Monsaraz (66 km/1 hour)
We were married here, so of course we love it! Spectacular views from this tiny hilltop fortress over the Alqeva Reservoir and rolling cork-oak-studded plains. The wonderful restaurant Sem Fim, outside town down by the water, offers olive oil and wine tastings and tours of the reservoir on a Dutch sailing barge built in 1913.

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4.93 out of 5 stars from 132 reviews

Hosted by Miranda

Joined in May 2014
  • 132 Reviews
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I am a freelance book editor, and my husband Krister works as a book designer and indexer as well as renovating the quinta and managing our large olival (olive grove). We moved here in June 2015 from a farm in Virginia, and though renovating the quinta and the gardens, orange grove, and olival has been a huge undertaking, we have loved every moment of living here. We are both avid gardeners, and committed to preserving Veloso's historical character as well as making it a fruitful place. We love cooking a wide variety of food, and it's especially rewarding here, where it seems we can grow almost everything we need. We also love animals, and came here with three cats, a dog, and two Irish horses, which we board in the nearest village (we first came to Portugal for a week of dressage lessons on Lusitanos, and loved it so much that we were married in the Alentejo, not far from Elvas). We have a thirteen-year-old son, who is attending public Portuguese school in Elvas.
I am a freelance book editor, and my husband Krister works as a book designer and indexer as well as renovating the quinta and managing our large olival (olive grove). We moved her…

During your stay

The cottage is very private, and guests may be completely undisturbed there, but there is shared space in the gardens and around the pool. The quinta is a working farm, so our regular helpers will be here most days, and we often, especially at olive harvest, host WWOOF (Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms) volunteers, who usually stay in our house but sometimes camp, and come from many countries to help us on the quinta. Many guests enjoy socializing with us or even joining us for cookouts, but if you prefer quiet and privacy, just let us know if you would like to be left alone, or if you'd like to have part of the gardens or the pool area to yourself at specific times. There is a lot of room!

We work at home and are usually available if needed. We enjoy meeting AirBnB guests from different countries and with different interests.
The cottage is very private, and guests may be completely undisturbed there, but there is shared space in the gardens and around the pool. The quinta is a working farm, so our regu…

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Rated 4.93 out of 5 from 132 reviews.