Baía da Barca

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Baía da Barca - Culture

The island emerged from a WNW-ESSE tectonic fracture - the same that led to the creation of the island of Faial, called the Pico-Faial fracture, which spans over 350 km, starting from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (acronym: MAR) ending at an area to the south of the Hirondelle trench. The volcanic origin of the Azores and its development over many millennia makes them a living museum of dozens of curious volcanic phenomena.The rounded forms of craters, often filled with lakes, connect the caves and the long tunnels formed by eruptions, the areas of black lava flows, materials originating from eruptions, ranging from the brilliant obsidian, to the light and spongy lava, and steam from steam vents.

Dom Henrique named it the "Island of St. Dinis".In fourteenth century maps, the island was called "Island of pigeons." Colonization started in 1460, on the lava slopes of Lajes, but became definitive in 1483, when Joss van Hurtere founded São Mateus. On the 29th of December 1482, the island is integrated into the “Capitania do Faial” by Queen D. Beatriz, even though Álvaro de Orlenas didn’t take possession of the island. In 1501, Lajes do Pico is promoted to Town and council headquarters by King D. Manuel I. In 1542 it is São Roque do Pico’s turn, and in 1712, it is Madalena’s.

In July 2004, the UNESCO committee declared the “Cultura da Vinha” landscape of Pico Island as a world heritage site. The area covers the districts of Criação Velha and Santa Luzia. Vineyards dominate the western part of the island, where the famous "Verdelho do Pico" is cultivated in small square areas of land where the grape vines grow, separated by black basalt walls, built with loose rocks, locally known as “currais". Currently, a national Park is planned on Pico Island, covering the areas of Pico Mountain, and the central plains. Other heritage includes: the Torres Cave in Criação Velha; the Caverns of Frei Matias; in Madalena, Wine Museaum, built in the old Carmelitas Convent; the Whaling Industry Museum, in São Roque do Pico; the Regional Whalers Museum in Lajes do Pico.

The inhabitants of Pico Island dedicate themselves to farming, fishing and livestock. The vineyards, once one of the great riches possessed by the island which made the famous Pico Wine, exported to England, U.S.A, and was even served at the table of the czar of the Russian Empire, was gradually affected by a plague of “whit mould” during the second half of the 19th century. Presently, production is reduced, and the main sources of income in agricultural terms are from horticultural produce, fruit and cereals. The livestock industry is well developed, especially in the São Roque do Pico district. Fishing is another important activity. The industries of the island are almost all connected to food produce: Milk products, distilleries, and mills. In the Craft industry, sculptures in basalt and whalebone are predominant, as well as lace and embroidery.

Gastronomy of the island is varied. The difficulty comes with the choice, due to the quality. The abundant sea offers an ample variety of prime materials for the confectioning of many delicious dishes. Crustaceans such as the lobster, crab and “cavacos”, molluscs covered in abalone, and the giant barnacle, unmatched delicacies, and its cousins the squid and octopus, the basis for unique dishes such as “stewed octopus in wine”. Fish in all shapes, sizes, colours, textures and flavours – red hake, scad, horse mackerel, morey eel, bogue, saupe, “veja” (Unknown on the mainland, very similar to cod) “írio”, “salema”, wreck fish, white grouper, and swordfish make choosing difficult. Boiled, fried or grilled, they are a delicacy, but they can also be served up in a magnificent “fish stew” or in a spectacular “caldeirada”. But the Pico pastures are no less prodigal than the sea that surrounds them. The beef and pork are unbeatable in a Pico style “molha de carne”, with beef or some “pork greaves”, made from pork meat. Beef is no less appetizing as a good steak. Pork also produces unique spicy “linguiça” sausages and “black puddings”». We also have side dishes and beverages, the São João and Arrife cheeses, both made from cow’s milk, go well with a verdelho wine and “massa sovada” bread. When you are weary of trying the 16% of the verdelho wines, for fear of not being able to stand, we recommend a “cheiro” wine, or one of the reds or whites produced on the island. Talking about Pico Wine is synonymous with pride. Wine culture is associated with the first colonisers towards the end of the 15th century. The verdelho wine, made from a variety of grapes by the same name, gained a worldwide reputation during the centuries, and was even served at the tables of the Russian Czars. From the 19th century, new grape varieties are introduced, which originated in white and red table wines. The cultivation methods, against the roughness of the volcanic soil with almost no vegetable matter, in currals, which are small areas walled in with black stone, also defines the culture of Pico Island. Proof of local and worldwide importance is when UNESCO, in July 2004, declared the Protected Landscape of Regional Interest for the Cultivation of Vineyards of Pico Island, created in 1996 a World Heritage Site. Currals, “maroiços”, which are diverse pyramid shaped mounds of stones, vineyards and wine cellars, and their equipment, are emblematic of vineyards and wine ». Lastly, take a look at the sweets and digestives to get an idea of local desserts. A plate of Sweet rice is nice, as well as “massa sovada” or “rosquilhas”. To finish off, a Pico Bagaço, a firewater made from figs, or one of the many liqueurs, made from mulberries, naseberries or even an “angelica”.

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