This has always been the family house. My grandfather, José Mateus Vilhena, built it in the 1920s and it’s been filled with experiences and memories ever since, generation after generation. My father is 86 years old, and he was born in one of the rooms of the house, that was divided into three areas then. One was the living area, one was the storage, where they kept cereal, and one was the milling area where they turned grains into flour and after which we named this rural tourism.
The house needed improvements, and my father felt we couldn’t abandon it. So we gathered the whole family, began to work on it, and we opened the house for the first time at the end of 2014. We wanted to honour the past and carry it carefully into the present day.
The mill is intact, with all the tools and original machinery, and it’s been transformed into a museum, Museu da Farinha (Museum of Flour). The rooms are located in the old storage area. We kept the original design, and in each corner of the house, you can find details in décor that convey the friendly environment that we like to share.
They grew a lot of wheat in this area so people would bring it here and take home enough flour to make bread for the whole week. Everyone made bread at home, and I remember making bread too when I was a child. The mill was quite ahead of its time and attracted visitors from all over the district.
Our story and mission
I was born here in São Domingos where I spent most of my childhood. Later, we moved to Setúbal, and after that, I went to Covilhã to University where I graduated in mechanical engineering. I was a Marine in the Portuguese navy, and after 20 years living in Lisbon, I decided to return.
I have a strong emotional connection to this land and this house. My childhood friends are all here, and I always liked the village.
My grandfather was an entrepreneur, and he brought an interesting new dynamic to the region, of sounds, movements, and people. The only memories I have of him are here in the work he left behind.
They say you're not supposed to share secrets, but every day I convince myself that sharing is what brought this place even more history.
When I returned, I oversaw the house renovations personally, and today I’m the host who, together with my wife, is always here whenever I can.
I love having guests, tell them the stories about the house and my grandfather, and take them to the museum where you really feel the energy and the power of this place.
Do I feel like a guardian? Yes, this is my homeland, this is my family home, and this is the museum that brought so much to the village. I didn’t let this story disappear, and every day I try to bring it more to life and give it more meaning.
The sounds coming from the milling factory and the busy lives of those who came here to trade grains for flour gave way to the silence of a typical Alentejo village. We carried this past into each corner of the house and, in a cosy environment, we share Alentejo in its purest state.
My grandfather’s house
São Domingos is a typical Alentejo village, 15km from Alvalade and 20km from Santiago do Cacém. Traffic is low, and locals’ day-to-day life is peaceful, so there is silence all around you. In the afternoon, you won’t hear much more than people outside their homes chatting and birds singing.
I remember feeling free here as a child, which is something that still happens today. Everyone knows each other, everything is close by, and the streets are like an extension of your own house so, wherever we are, we always feel at home.
We usually suggest the dams of Fonte de Serne and Campilhas. They are great spots to spend the day, have a picnic, and go for a swim.
You can’t find this lifestyle in many places, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back. Anyone can feel rejuvenated by memories built here and this lifestyle.
There’s a multitude of things to do in the area too. You can go off to discover the nearby beaches -- Porto Covo is a 25-minute drive away. Other must-sees include the unique heritage of the Lousal mines and their Centro de Ciência Viva (a place where visitors can learn about science in a playful, relaxed environment), the Miróbriga roman ruins, and the castle of Santiago do Cacém.
I believe Nature is, indeed, the best gift we can offer you. Just open your bedroom window to see how close we are from it, of the fields that have changed throughout the years, and the animals living there. A few months ago, our guests happened to witness the birth of a lamb. Considering the world we live in, things like that are even more precious.
At the old mining village of Lousal, Centro de Ciência Viva houses a piece of history connected to the mining history that’s worth the visit. To complete your journey into the depths of Alentejo, visit Galeria Waldemar, and Museu Mineiro do Lousal.