Our next stop on Pico island is Arcos do Cachorro, a set of volcanic rock formations in the municipality of Madalena. The rock formation is composed of volcanic caves, grottos and lava tubes that extend to the sea creating strong eddies and whirlpools. As we arrive we see the rock that has given this site its name which means ‘Arches of the Puppy’.
Pico is nicknamed ‘the black island’ for its black, volcanic earth, strange rock formations and black lava rocks. As we look along the coast we can see that the name is very apt.
We watch as dozens of crabs scuttle across the rocks in front of us and we wander along the boardwalk that allows visitors to view the arches and rock formations in safety.
Our next stop is the civil parish of Lajido du Santa Luzia on the northern coast of the island. All of the houses here have been built out of black, volcanic rocks and painted white in parts. This is the ‘border area’ of the Pico’s Vineyard Culture Protected Landscape and is one of the greatest examples of the ancient art. The name ‘lajido’ is applied whenever broad pahoehoe lava flow fields exist. Lava from the last volcanic eruption flowed into the sea in Santa Luzia and the features of the pahoehoe lava remain. There is no beach and instead the black, volcanic lava fields have created small sea cliffs.
We pass the parish church and walk along the path running parallel to the sea. Some of the houses have been built right on the edge of the cliffs. Along the black rocks we can see the tracks of a horse and cart that had clearly used the same route for many, many years.
We follow our guide to the Núcleo Museológico do Lajido de Santa Luzia. This one-storey, rectangular building was used as a warehouse and contains barrels and vats in which fermenting fruit was stored to make aqua vitae (an especially strong, distilled liquor).
We see an old-fashioned treading tank and press. Traditionally the grapes would be placed in the treading tank and people would tread them with bare feet. The must was collected and poured into a barrel. The mashed grapes would then be put in a split wood basket, on top of which a wooden pressing plate and wooden blocks would be placed to crush the grapes and the rest of the must poured into the barrel to ferment.
Following our wine-theme we travel to Adena “A Buraca”, a local winery and museum. We wander through the museum where various traditional tools are displayed before making our way to the tasting room at the back of the building. The lady who is showing us around tells us about the history of the distillery and the wine that her family has been making for generations. We follow her in to the beautiful tasting room, decorated with large, wooden barrels and full of bottles of the different wines and liquors that are produced here.
- Information provided by Núcleo Museológico do Lajido de Santa Luzia