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Press Trip The Secrets of Casa Palacio Conde de La Corte and Convento de La Parra
09 May 2011

We depart from Lisbon on a true adventure, to discover the history and traditions of the city of Zafra and the tranquility of Vila de La Parra…

After a three hour journey, we arrived at Casa Palacio Conde de La Corte, an enchanted palace, in orange, dark red and purple tones, which opened its elaborated iron doors. The huge glass and iron dome floods the hotel’s lobby with light, where we were warmly welcomed. The fascinating decoration dates back to long ago, through countless photographs and hunting motives adorning the walls.

It was time to leave; an undiscovered city awaited us… Zafra is full of Jewish, Christian and Arabian influences in all its essence. We started by the old convent and the old city synagogue. We passed the Candelaria Church towards the Market Street, where commercial exchanges took place and the old Marble Pharmacy was situated, currently transformed into a sort of museum.

We walked to the Plaza Chica, where on one of the pillars we found a measuring bar, used by the old merchants to measure cloth. The Arquino de Pane links the Plaza Chica to the Plaza Grande, currently full of terraces and which once was, up to the 16th century, a broad space destined for bullfighting and also a place of worship, in which there was a Church.

We follow in direction of one of the four doors of the old city wall, the only one currently intact, the Puerta de Jerez, which received the merchants coming from Jerez de los Caballeros. The guided visit finished in the Santa Clara Museum, an old nun convent.

Once back at the hotel, we settled in the refined rooms, in green and pastel tones, flowers and worked ceilings, broad bathrooms and palace-like decoration.  Sometime afterwards, we left for dinner with the hotel director, Dário and Maribel, who expected us in the Barbacana restaurant. During dinner, we tried the delicious typical regional delicacies: for starters the Iberian sausages, followed by a crunchy octopus confit salad and a fabulous Iberian pig carpaccio. The smoked salmon lasagna, with garlic and mushrooms, left us mouthwatering for the main course, some delicious Iberian pig steaks with carbonara potatoes and cherry salad. To finish off, for dessert, the white chocolate dome with strawberries and mint filling left us rendered!

On the following morning, after breakfast, we visited the welcoming hotel bar, the patio and the swimming pool and finally, the lookout point, whose superb 360ş view over the city of Zafra makes us wish we could stay a while longer, inhale the pure morning air and take advantage of the first sunbeams.

We leaving were once again for Burrillos del Cerro, a small place between Zafra and La Parra, whose history reflects the Roman influences, Visigoths and Moslem. We travelled through time and discovered the castle, the old convent, the regent’s home that is also the royal home, transformed in a museum.

Once the visit had finished, we follow in direction of the Ganadaria Torrete, where we were warmly welcomed by owners Yolanda and Francisco Meléndez and had the opportunity to appreciate the farm and animals, namely the bulls.

The lunch was served in the porch, a fabulous meal that besides the famous Iberian sausages, included typical beans, blood sausage, potato and farinheira (traditional portuguese pork sausage) stew, absolutely divine! After the visit, we follow in direction of the Convento de La Parra.

Having arrived at our destination, we were greeted with refreshments in the hotel patio where we had the opportunity to relax a little and appreciate the peace and tranquility of this magical place!

We went back in time… walking through all of the spaces of this old convent. We discovered the simplicity of the architecture, through a combination of wood and metal, the contrast between white walls and dark red floor, the linen cloths in the old cells, currently rooms flooded by the afternoon light.

Next to the library fireplace, a welcoming and cozy space, full of shelves and books, we found the room where the cloister nuns watched the mass and the small church of the convent, with a checkered floor and golden and colorful altars. Finally, at the top of the church tower we reached a dazzling view over all the Vila de La Parra.

At dinner time, accompanied by Dário, we went to the hotel’s restaurant where the minimalist decoration involves us completely… for starters we tried a tasty goat cheese gratin with apple and sultanas, some delicious black pudding sausage croquets and the traditional salmorejo, a type of pure gazpacho as well.  Next came the fabulous Iberian pig meatballs and to sweeten the taste buds, for dessert, a cold rice cream with milk and cinnamon.

The awakening morning is mystical and inspiring, to the sound of chirping birds and falling water. We had a marvelous breakfast in the hotel restaurant, where the indispensable fresh fruits, cereals and jams of all of the flavors are a certainty…

Once again, it was time to say good-bye and leave for Salvatierra de los Barros, land of the clay and pottery, the old castle and Santa Maria de Jesus convent, of monks.

The visit finished with a pleasant picnic, in a family environment, where we had the opportunity to taste the delicious gastronomy from Salvatierra.

On departure for Lisbon, an immense desire of a speedy return to enchanted palaces, mystical convents and the sublime gastronomy from these places remained.

 
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