A trip that´s worth three.
By Viviane Rosa
To travel through Serra Gaúcha (the Gaucho’s Valleys) is to share the habits of the local people, from wine to chocolate, and from fondue to mate (chimarrão).
If you are someone who travels in order to experience the local culture of a particular place, you will have a unique and inspirational visit to the southern mountains of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, located about 1,000 km from São Paulo and just over 100 km from the State’s capital, Porto Alegre.
This itinerary is much sought after by tourists, mainly during the months when the sun is farther from the Southern Hemisphere and the wintry winds blow on the region. It’s the only winter worthy of the name, in a country where it’s almost always summer. It’s in the cold months of July and August, that a visit to Serra Gaúcha becomes a great opportunity to find characteristics of three countries in one trip: Italy, Germany and Brazil!
Whoever goes there in search of European landscapes and natural beauty will not be disappointed. With an undeniable wintry charm, each region is a surprise. Gramado Nova Petrópolis and Canela are some of the sites that comprise the German region of the Serra. Bento Gonçalves, Garibaldi, Carlos Barbosa and Caxias do Sul are part of the Italian colonization, better known as the Valley of the Vineyards or the Wine Route.
Gramado and Canela are the most popular spots, receiving tourists all year around. In the German colonies, Caracol Falls and the Mini World, eating fondue, tasting a barbecue straight from the pit, and sipping colonial coffee are some of the options.
In the Valley of the Vineyards, the past is preserved in the Italian colonies. You can see the wealth of colonial architectural and the wine producing “cantinas” that spread over 21 counties. The mountainous landscape in this region reminds visitors of the slopes of Trento or Tuscany in Italy, with vineyards everywhere. The stone houses and churches on the edge of the road show the same degree of religiousness. And the local wine is consumed with great pleasure, as if genuinely Italian.
To travel through the routes of the Caminho das Pedras (Stones Way) in the colonies of São Pedro and Bento Gonçalves, to participate in a round of chimarrão in Caxias do Sul, to have lunch and drink in a wine cave or to take a 23 km ride aboard a wood-fueled locomotive, are some of the attractions of the Italian part of the Serra Gaúcha.
Winter is the right time for those who like different activities, and we recommend Gramado and its famous Brazilian Film Festival in August. However, for those who prefer peace, we suggest that you avoid the holiday months and the month of May, the preferred honeymoon time. For those who dream to see hydrangeas in bloom it is recommended that you visit the region between November and March. There, you will learn the gaúcho slang, and bah, you will have tri-legal moments, Tchê!