Image shows - a garden sofa by the pool at the Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.

Portuguese Eco Retreat

Francisco Palma Dias’ family have owned and worked this land, high in the hills above the southern Algarve coastline, for generations. Now the poet farmer’s wife has found a way to guarantee the estate can survive. Join me, with photographer Julia Toms on a sunny stroll around the Companhia das Culturas

Eglantina Monteiro is an anthropologist with a passion for understanding those who have lived in her home before her and maintaining their traditions. The estate still produces figs, quince, lemons, olives, herbs aplenty – and even bananas.

Image shows - Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas
Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas

The farm’s former olive press is a feature in the middle of the sitting room and library. Wherever possible, Eglantina has used local materials like cork and stone as integral parts of the décor. She also discovered that cork is the perfect soundproofing, and now invites visitors to ‘surrender to the silence’ in the property’s cork box studio, which is used for dance, yoga and meditation.

Image shows - the former olive press is now a feature in the main sitting room at the Companhia das Culturas.
The former olive press is now a feature in the main sitting room.
Image shows - guest bedroom at Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas
Guest bedroom at Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.

Every room throughout the house is furnished with pieces that have been in the family for decades or up-cycled retro furniture that has arrived in Eglantina’s ‘furniture hospital’ in an old farm building on the other side of the lane. Chairs, tables and mirrors arrive broken, seemingly beyond repair, and leave repainted and rewoven by local artisans or re-upholstered in vintage fabrics that Eglantina buys from local charity shops.

A pair of chairs in the shade at the Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.
A pair of chairs in the shade at the Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.
Image shows - bright colours come alive under the Algarve sunshine in this Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.
Bright colours come alive under the Algarve sunshine in this Portuguese Eco Retreat.
Image shows - army snow camouflage netting provides stylish shade at the Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.
Army snow camouflage netting provides stylish shade at the Portuguese Eco Retreat.

Back in 2008, the couple opened up rooms to paying guests. There are now 9, a mix of suites, doubles and twins. The couple pride themselves on being part of the rural tourism revolution and visitors get to enjoy Eglantina’s homemade organic jams and produce from the vegetable garden. The estate also welcomes visiting art students and yoga devotees. Just as Eglantina and Francisco dreamed, the place they call home still employs local people and welcomes travellers from afar. Book your slice of silence at http://www.companhiadasculturas.com

Image shows - a garden sofa by the pool at the Portuguese Eco Retreat, Companhia das Culturas.
A garden sofa by the pool at the Portuguese Eco Retreat
Image shows - sunlight playing with the shadows at the Companhia das Culturas Eco Retreat in Portugal.
Sunlight plays with the shadows at the Companhia das Culturas Eco Retreat in Portugal.
Image shows - army snow camouflage netting is used to provide stylish shade at the Companhia das Culturas eco retreat.
Army snow camouflage netting is used to provide stylish shade at the Companhia das Culturas eco retreat.
Image shows - vintage fabrics waiting to give new life to up-cycled lampshades and chairs at the Companhia das Culturas eco retreat in Portugal.
Vintage fabrics waiting to give new life to up-cycled lampshades and chairs at the Companhia das Culturas eco retreat in Portugal.

* Thank you to the supremely talented Julia Toms for the photographs in this blog post.