“Porto”, the capital of northern Portugal
Is it said Porto or Porto?
The Portuguese call their city or port, in Italian we would say “the Port”, a bit like when we say “Aquila” or “La Spezia”. When foreigners heard them name it, they thought the article was part of the name, so in Italy we call the capital of northern Portugal, “Porto”.
In Portugal you will never find it written like this!
1. Beyond the river, it is not Porto
When you are at Ribeira and you look at the other banks of the Douro River on the other side of the wineries where you can go for a taste of the most renowned city product, know that the other side of the river is not Porto but a ‘ Other city called Vila Nova de Gaia. Unless you decide to take a stroll around the beautiful Praia das Rocas, you will hardly be able to visit this city in addition to the cellars. Do not make a regret.
2. Portuguese nationalism
The Portuguese are extremely nationalistic. You will notice, for example, the amount of flags displayed or the obsession of buying only national products. In the wake of this obsession, which is in reality an act of love and trust in their own country, constantly on the verge of the economic gap, several stores have been born that “sanctify” and of course sell these products.
The most famous is A Vida Portuguesa which you will find at the 20th of Rua Galeria de Paris, on the first floor of an old, charming building. Take a tour and maybe buy something like souvenirs there, you will help the local economy instead of the Chinese one.
3. Is Livraria Lello the one of Harry Potter?
Neither Harry Potter nor his creator were in any way inspired, or had contact with the historical Portuguese library. Know it, but visit the same because it’s worth it.
4. Who are the “tripeiros”?
The inhabitants of the port are called “tripeiros”, i.e. tripe eaters. In 1415, the inhabitants of the city donated all the meat they owned to the expedition for the conquest of Ceuta, holding only the interior. You can call them that way, it’s a bit like calling “polentone” a brianzolo.
If you want to try the fashionable Trippa of Porto, or other amenities such as the pork ear, or the moelas (part of the digestive tract), go without fear to Esacadinhas Do Barredo an old tavern where two cute ladies will guide you in the magical world of interiors. You can crown the experience by also ordering “papas” a magnificent pork blood-soup! Enjoy your meal…
5. Absolutely to eat: the francesinha
The francesinha is the typical 18-layer Portuguese toast. You will find it here only, it does not exist elsewhere in the country. The name “francesina” could deceive you, there is nothing light, neither laced, nor refined, nor distant French in this sandwich. But it’s good and it’s worth trying! (Eye: It should not cost less than 8/10 euro’s, otherwise it will be done with a vulgar würstel in a pack of 6 instead of “linguiça” a special Portuguese sausage, and will fly into a roast made with a vinaccio whatever instead of ‘Great port).
6. Where and how to spend the night in Porto
If you have dined with the francesinha you may end up in bed to try to digest it; Otherwise, if it is Friday or Saturday night, after midnight, because there is nothing there, do not miss joining the tide of crowds crowding rua Galeria de Paris and rua Candido dos Reis and entering the place you are worried about, or Rotate more than one. The Portuguese night is of superior quality at more than affordable prices. Order “um up” (pronouncing UM FINU), a plug beer, which will pay you a maximum of 1.50 euro’s and let go! On the Sunday you will find the desert.
7. To see for yourself: House of Music
The “House of Music”, an incredible building of the Dutch genius of Rem Koolhaas architecture, is a complex of theaters and concert halls that are said to have the best acoustics in the world. The building also represents the cultural effort and investment of a small town, a vision of its role in the future and of its international importance. Chapeau!
You can take a guided tour, or attend a concert, or, even better, a night of clubbing inside the building that takes place once a month. In addition to visiting the place in a different way, you will have the feeling of having taken a “trip” without doing anything illegal.
“Porto”, the capital of northern Portugal