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Schist Villages - Lousã-Portugal

A new concept of rural Portugal

The project was based on a simple idea: to bring a new dynamic to tourism in the Centre Region through the use of the natural and human resources of the Schist Villages. The challenge, however, resided in doing so without loosing sight of the lifestyle of its inhabitants, the preservation of their values and the increment of their self esteem.

But as the Portuguese say, “there in no shortcut to labour” and the Sustained Development Plan for the Schist Villages had to create modern infrastructures, to train the population and to promote a tourist culture.

Buildings were reconstructed, using traditional methods and preserving original traits. And while some were pledged to take care of the houses, others were becoming technicians, preparing to face a new standard for qualification. In gastronomic production, craftsmanship, cultural entertainment, the Schist Villages stand out for their presentation of excellent products, services and professionals. New products are made from the fruits of the land. A river becomes a canoeing track. A forest becomes a path for trekking. A boy from the village becomes a guide. A house becomes a bed and breakfast.

A new strength is given to producers of local specialities. And, based on the knowledge of many years, innovative objects are created. Objects of contemporary design.

Attracted by the promise of a rich cultural and natural heritage, visitors come here to find, besides dazzling landscapes, practically endless possibilities of outdoor entertainment. But if outdoors the days are joyfully spent, life indoors is similarly busy. A mix of professionalism and sincere kindness welcome us to the rural lodging units, as to each restaurant, shop, Tourism Information Kiosks and entertainment company. Availability of information, quality of service and the assurance that these are certified activities guarantee the success of initiatives.

Little by little, Pinhal Interior starts to forget its stone sadness, and the schist landscapes are hot with new projects. The bonds connecting the network intensify, synergies are perfected, partner-ships grow stronger. Working as a network, the territory’s economic agents develop coordinated strategies and make joint investments.

With training and employment opening a new window of hope, young people are no longer dreaming of departing to urban areas. In fact, some are starting to return from the city for holidays or weekends, some to stay. A new dream is built, and the villages that used to be desolated and abandoned, are now becoming joyful. With the support of the Schist Villages Programme, the villages are reinventing themselves and once again, assuming a central role. Attracting the eyes of the world to the centre of Portugal, they invite us to discover a region that is a national treasure and to become a part of the challenge, believing it is possible, and worth, to change.

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