Casa da Cumeada used to be the house of Domingos Canhão, also known as Ti Canhão (Uncle Canhão) - a village poet who never went to school and taught himself how to read and write when he was in the military service in the Azores. He was a bright man, very straightforward and passionate, who wrote profound poems about local events.
I discovered his house when it was mid-construction and ready to be sold. I visited it by chance and I immediately felt this would be the ideal site for the rural tourism business dedicated to macrobiotic that I had been dreaming about. Cereals are the base of the macrobiotic diet and, going back to the early history of Alentejo,¬ - once known as the cereal barn of Portugal - this was the right place to start this project.
At the time I started with consultations on food and lifestyle guidance to the local community at Campinho. The connection people have with the land here is truly inspiring, and the interest they showed was the final nudge I needed to finally get the house and give it a new purpose.
My consultations were paid using a bartering system. I provided them with the service and they would give me whatever they had - eggs, seamstress services, cheese, and so many other things. Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of a similar lifestyle and when I opened Casa da Cumeada, I began doing the consultations here and continued to do things in the same way. The difference is that now it was a certified business, planned from scratch. Everything here has a meaning, and for those who show an interest in knowing more, the learning part of the experience is what sets it apart.
Macrobiotic was born in the Zen monasteries in Japan and brought to the west by a Japanese philosopher. It's a lifestyle focused on developing our human potential by following Nature's rules from a biological, ecological, social, and spiritual point of view. The word is originally Greek, "macro" stands for large and "bio" stands for life. But there's more to it than its literal meaning of "large life". It's also about living life grandly and magnificently. The food, vital, gives us the biological base, the top health, and the sensitivity towards the environment around us.
Our story and mission
After the revolution of 25 April, I lived and went to school in South Africa. When I finished school, I enrolled in a Hotel Management course that got me an internship in the United States. Later, I got an offer to work as the Food & Beverage Director at the Sheraton, in Porto, and I returned to Portugal. I was 27 years old then, and it was a significant experience that defined the rest of my life. I married and moved to Madeira Island, where I lived and worked as a television and radio producer for almost 30 years. I studied communication at a Spanish university and wrote for Diário de Notícias newspaper about cinema - one of my biggest passions.
All my life, I was passionate about Orientalism and a firm believer that “we are what we eat” - I always believed that food was the fundamental factor of human evolution. When I was a teenager, I began to travel to the East and participated in food-related projects.
At age 40, I was producing a two-hour live daily television show on RTP Madeira. I was always stressed and under pressure. I didn’t have time for anything and I began to look for ways to slow down. That was also the time when I hosted my first show on alternative therapies. It’s when I met Francisco Varatojo who introduced me to macrobiotics. This lifestyle immediately resonated with me and I became an expert in the subject.
Many people told me I was crazy to introduce macrobiotic in Alentejo, but I believe it's always been here. Alentejo is the most macrobiotic place in the country for its history connected to the cereal production.
In the middle of this busy life, I had a refuge to where I regularly escaped - a house in Campinho, in Alentejo. It was my zen place and where I felt increasingly whole and at home. My dream was to move there permanently and have a space dedicated to macrobiotic. A place that made a difference as a place for self-development, of health, and of wellbeing, where I could give my lifestyle and food guidance consultations to the local community and welcome people from all over the world.
It took some time, but after I retired and spent some time in Mozambique learning about subtropical macrobiotic, I had the chance to get a house that had been closed for a long time in Cumeada. It was the former home of Ti Canhão, a village poet I came to admire even though I never met him. I respected the house's past and rebuilt it; thus, Casa da Cumeada was born.
More than a rural tourism business, this house is a place to share and respect Nature. The only lodging in Portugal with a macrobiotic certification.
We are what we eat
We’re located in Cumeada, a small village of about 70 people in the county of Reguengos de Monsaraz. Here we live authentically and according to the earth's rhythm. The heart of the town is Mr Zé’s café, Café Silva. That’s the place where everyone gets together at the end of the day to catch up. On the weekends, there are spontaneous live sessions of “Cante" (a traditional Alentejo folk music genre sang mostly by men), and we can hear them from the house. We have a church, a recreational association, a cheese factory, and Mr Diamantino who breeds roosters and chickens, unique in the country, and who trains horses for bullfighting.
Cumeada is a very genuine village. We still live as an authentic community here and that alone is worth the visit.
One of the most inspiring things to do here is to sit at the bus stop across the house and watch the daily routine. The baker, the truck with the vegetables and fruit, the man selling melons, the clothes truck - everyone stops there for locals to buy what they need for the day.
Campinho is right next to us, a riverside village with on-foot access to the Alqueva lake. But the tranquillity is what sets us apart. The hikes to the sounds of Nature, the picnics, and the most beautiful sky in the world to gaze at stars. We're also close to two other roads that take us to destinations worth visiting: Portel and Amieira on one side, and Monsaraz and Marvão on the other.
São Pedro do Corval is a small village historically linked to pottery. It’s the capital of clay and where most of the region’s potters live. The tradition was passed on from generation to generation, and it’s still ongoing. The small typical whitewashed houses hide workshops covered in pottery pieces that are worth a visit.