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On Sunday December 4th the organisers had planned the first of the excursions to Alpedrinha, a village located in the mountains a few kilometres from Fundão. The village has 1000 inhabitants and is in the middle of the cherry-growing region, though thanks to its long history it boasts a number of treasures. But before we visited any of them the guides took the group to a municipal building which houses an exhibition of Christ child's cribs, some of them highly original.
Some highly original cribs - here is the proof!
Some highly original cribs - here is the proof!

A little later on in the narrow streets we saw yet more cribs displayed here and there according to the whims of the local inhabitants. Then a short visit to the museum of ethnography and folk art, a tasting of 'jeropiga' an apéritif made of grapes and kindly offered to us by villagers, a visit to the 16th century baroque St Martins church with its 18th century organ - and that was the end of a busy morning; we climbed the village streets towards the 'palace' undergoing restoration, to the 'Cerejal' restaurant for a well-deserved and much appreciated meal. And of course there was salt-cod on the menu.

In the museum of ethnography
In the museum of ethnography

You cannot refuse a little 'jeropiga' …
You cannot refuse a little 'jeropiga' …

A well-deserved meal in the 'Cerejal'
A well-deserved meal in the 'Cerejal'

On Tuesday December 6th there was another excursion, this time a little further afield between the Serra Estrella and the Serra da Gardunha ranges, to Monsanto, a little village clinging to a rocky peak and dominated by an imposing fortress. There was a magnificent 360 degree panoramic view, and the fortress was a truly unassailable eagle's nest which alone would have made the journey worth while. The visitors were treated to a veritable history lesson from the local guide helped by his friend David Manuel Gomes Caetano, a teacher at the Fundão INFTUR school and an archaeologist when the mood takes him. In the fortress a number of the participants were interested by the St Michael chapel with its exterior tombs among other things, while other participants, less interested in the historical aspects, used the opportunity to enjoy the absolutely splendid view afforded by the location.

 The St Michael chapel
The St Michael chapel

After this busy morning a lunch-stop at the Astoria hotel in the centre of the spa town of Montfortinho was much appreciated; the second part of the day consisted of a visit to Idanha-a-Velha, a picturesque village which was undoubtedly of Roman origin but which had acquired different accretions over the centuries, which contribute to its charm. The olive oil press was the high point of this visit for which a commentary and documentation was provided; it was the penultimate part of this stay in Portugal which had been so rich in discoveries of every sort. Indeed, after returning to Fundão at 6.30pm, the participants had to make their way a little later to the gala evening …

 the ancient olive oil press
the ancient olive oil press
3rd to 5th December 2018 in Riga
3rd to 5th December 2017 in Fátima
5th to 7th December 2018 in San Benedetto
2nd to 5th December 2015 in Diekirch

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