Circular Routes Stage
Leaving Sabóia, meander through valleys intersected by the Mira River and the stream of Totenique. Arriving at the top of the mountain beside a ruined mill, the view of the village of Santa Clara awaits. In villages like this, traditional ways of life are still very much evident, and can be enjoyed by curious walkers looking to understand this leisurely way of Portuguese life.
As legend goes, the origin of the name Sabóia came from the settlers from the Alpine region of Sabóia, who arrived in the early medieval times. The popular narrative says that a sabóian merchant, cleric or potentially even fugitive (depending on the version of the story) set up an inn by the road, most likely the one that came from Garvão to the Algarve called the estrada de Sabóia (road of Sabóia). This version is cited by the “old” charter of Odemira.
The Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Sabóia is home to some interesting artistic work, like a canvas in oil on wood of Saint Anne and the Virgin, as well as another of Saint Joachim of the Flemish School (beginning of Century XVII).
These are the lands of the viola campaniça, a musical instrument typical of the lower Alentejo and the largest of the Portuguese guitars, rich in the quality of its sound. With 10 strings, it has the shape of a pronounced eight, with a rosette made out of woods of different colors representing the Alentejo sun. While the origin of this instrument is uncertain, it is known that it was played from time immemorial in dances, folias or as its most celebrated use, to accompany cantares à desgarrada, or cantes a despique (typical Portuguese singing). In the 60’s, this guitar was considered quite rare and close to cultural extinction. Measures were then taken to revitalize the campaniça culture, and it is now possible to hear this instrument in certain places throughout Odemira county, particularly in Sabóia.
Arriving in Totenique, you will find a stream of clear waters and leafy riparian vegetation. This place, where there were two fountains with flowing water, was once quite populated. It used to have a primary school, which eventually closed doors in 1983 during the time when almost the entire population left the valley in search of better living conditions. Recently, however, some of the old houses have been reoccupied by foreigners in search of peace and quiet.
The railway station, halfway between Sabóia and Santa Clara, is a typical Second Republic building, showing elements of this style including the clock, the scale and the tile panels. Between Santa Clara and Sabóia, the hiker’s attention will be drawn to the admirable outline of the landscape, the richness of the flora and the unexpected encounters with flocks of partridges, goldfinches among other birds.
Where to start
At the entrance of the village, next to the small garden.
Rules and Recommendations
Refreshments along the way
Villages of Santa Clara-a-Velha and Sabóia.
You can combine this route with the “From Santa Clara to the Dam”.
Before the train station, you have to walk for 300 m on the road. Walk cautiously and in the opposite direction of traffic.
There are other routes in this area. Pay attention to the signage.