There are so many seashore towns in Portugal that it’s hard to single one out. But Porto Côvo, an old fisherman’s hamlet on Alentejo’s Vicentine coast, deserves special mention. It is blessed with sandy beaches bathed by turquoise waters and a view to the enigmatic Peachtree Island where two forts, now in ruins, once kept pirates at bay.
In the late 18th century, Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira, a successful businessman, bought a vast stretch of land in Porto Côvo. He hired an architect to draw plans to populate the area and turn it into a significant harbor. The king rewarded these efforts by granting him, in 1805, the title of Baron of Porto Côvo da Bandeira.
Bandeira’s plan was inspired by the grid system used to rebuild downtown Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake. The construction of Porto Côvo did not adhere closely to it, but its sense of geometry prevailed, giving the town a harmonious feeling.
In the center, the farmers market brims with fresh fruits from land and sea. Local restaurants turn these products into appetizing meals. Our favorite is Lamelas, a place where chef Ana Moura serves veritable culinary pearls. We owe these riches to Baron Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira who first recognized the beauty of Porto Côvo.