Hello everyone, I am Camila and today I want to introduce to you the Southern region of my home country: Brazil. I hope you enjoy the insights about the history, our food culture and nice places where I personally recommend you to go to.
Let’s directly start: The Southern region is a particular part of Brazil, characterized by a diversified landscape (mountains, beaches, lowlands), temperate climate, and a unique Brazilian-Portuguese accent!
My favorite part is the Serra Gaúcha (and not only because I was born there!). It is a mountain area in the Rio Grande do Sul State, with strong European influence. By the end of the nineteenth century this region was colonized by Italians and Germans, who easily got used to the region due to the similarities in landscape and climate to their home countries. The colonization left permanent marks on the region which was divided according to the population: the Italian region, the German region, and the Gaúcha region, whereas the latter one remained with the original local people.
The Italian region is composed of the cities of Farroupilha, Carlos Barbosa, Garibaldi, Bento Gonçalves, Flores da Cunha and Caxias do Sul. The region is renowned for its excellent wine and is famous for its amazing wineries. Festivals celebrating grape harvest, “new wine”, sparkling wine, and several other derivatives make this region a place worth to visit on your route through South Brazil. Caxias do Sul, which is my home city, is the biggest city of Serra Gaúcha (more than half a million people live here) and the second biggest metal-mechanic center in the country. It is the hometown of the National Grape Fest, a biennial festival that attracts more than 350 thousand visitors to its celebrations such as concerts, parades, grape exhibitions.
The special representatives of the German region are Gramado, Canela and Nova Petrópolis. It is the most touristic part of the Serra Gaúcha due to its European architecture and – principally – because of the snow! Negative temperatures and favorable weather conditions during the winter make this region a hot spot for tourists – not only from across the ocean but also for local travelers from Brazil. Gramado city is the pearl of the region with international festivals, such as the Festival of Cinema and the “Natal Luz” (Christmas celebration), besides its lovely restaurants and luxurious hotels.
The Gaúcha region is the highland, with the main cities of Bom Jesus, São Francisco de Paula and São José dos Ausentes. It is renowned for eco-tourism on the breathtaking landscape of cliffs. The untouched culture takes the visitors to a rural Epoque, where it is possible to experience the “farm life” among the beauty of nature. It is also the coolest part of the region due to its high altitude, which is 1200 m above sea level.
Vale dos Vinhedos
Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra
Vale dos Vinhedos (Valley of the Vineyards)
This valley welcomed the first Italian immigrants in the region in 1870. Today it is the home of more than 30 wineries, besides cozy hotels and amazing restaurants with the traditional cuisine of the region.
Don’t go home without eating “sopa de agnoline” (a traditional soup), “galeto” (chicken prepared in a very special way – feel free to ask for a vegan option), and “polenta” (My favorite – a cream made from corn flour. It is 100 % plant-based already in its traditional way). Thirsty? The Miolo Wine is unmissable: an amazing Wine Garden, guided tour with specialized winemakers, and, of course, wine and sparkling wine tasting.
Rota Romântica (Romantic Route):
It is a 40 km route from the plain of the Rio dos Sinos valley and the Highlands of the Serra Gaúcha, passing by 14 cities. This route is one of the 10 most beautiful and charming routes to travel by car in Brazil.
Germanic culture is evident through architecture, gardens, festivals, and gastronomy. It is impossible to suggest only one city to visit, but don’t go home without appreciating a “Café Colonial”. Even though it is called “café” (coffee), it is a banquet with the most amazing traditional food! Be prepared to eat a lot (I recommend going for lunch, without even breakfast!).
Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra (National Park Aparados da Serra):
National natural patrimony, this park is located on the border between Rio Grande do Sul state and Santa Catarina state. The unique landscape with 700 m high canyons with plateau tops, as if they had been “trimmed”.
The three most famous canyons are Rio do Boi, Fortaleza, and Itaimbezinho. The last one has an amazing park with a structure to receive tourists. The other two have untouched nature, however, I recommend having a specialized guide to not get lost during the trekking and to know how to behave in order not to destroy the surrounding!
If you have extended holidays, it is possible to travel some hours by car and visit Uruguay and Argentina. They are also wonderful places, with delicious food and remarkable people!
South Brazil is definitely a lovely surprise, especially for those who know Brazil only by its amazing beaches and the Amazon Forest (which are unquestionably fantastic as well). If you wish to visit non-traditional places in Brazil, consider the Serra Gaúcha!
Camila Suliani Raota
This article is written by Camila. She is Brazilian, living in the South of the country. She loves to travel (especially by motorcycle) and interact with different cultures. What makes her heart beats: books, coffee, horses, rock songs, and talking about physics as well as spirituality.