Vidago Palace Hotel, the beautiful sleeping giant
And the house that has never hosted the king has remained intact in all its glory since 1910.
The ribbon of asphalt lies on the landscape crafting a gift of which you are privileged recipients. Yet just around, indeed, anything, can suggest what you will be facing. The booty captured by your eyes is thin: rocks, woods and meadows populated by nags a bit ’emaciated. The front of the north of Portugal is beaded with whitewashed villages and black granite. Yet here it is already far from the baroque splendor and Manueline Guimaraes or Solar de Mateus. The villages get less shrill, no postcards, are newspaper pages, a po’sgualcite sometimes, good ones to wrap the bacalhau, toh. But wait. As they say in suspense tales? “At one point …” Yeah. At one point, the asphalt ribbon tick a sign, nothing special, a piece of crooked wood, those in the Sonoran desert they tell you: “Tucson, 800 miles.” This sign instead announces “Vidago Palace, 0.5 km”.
And you follow him for no reason, like a boy follows the kite. And when the Vidago Palace appears before, you’d want to shake hands with Wes Anderson, because even if Wes Anderson has nothing to do, there is nothing more than Vidago Palace that might look like the Grand Budapest Hotel. You expect Ralph Finnies is to open up the door, his sly smile and a gardenia on a tweed jacket. But no, it does not happen, but the magic is intact.
The Vidago Palace, in the middle of nowhere this bucolic, is a beautiful sleeping giant intact from the Belle Epoque. The opening date is 1910. King Charles of Portugal wanted this house for himself, but fell under the blows of an anarchist revolver in 1908 and just in 1910 was proclaimed the Republic. It was here that Queen Amalia, just widow ate dinner before embarking on the yacht that took into exile in England. In kitchens it the menu is carefully preserved.
The Vidago Palace is therefore the palace that has never had kings. I will say, and I’m proud. Meanwhile, you open the door to blown glass double doors and you feel on the Titanic, see the mezzanine for the orchestra, and the violins images, you let yourself be dazzled by the Murano glass chandeliers, Watch the woodwork, the scenic and breathtaking double internal staircase, the ‘huge room in verrerie ceiling dining and wallpaper hand-painted by Italian craftsmen and think that the “bon vivre” expression here takes on its full meaning.
The time machine does exist, it is in Portugal, yes and no to a hundred kilometers from Porto. The magic does not stop even outside, in the gardens crossed by squiggles of the fountains, while the music of the waves and intoxicates violins in the head. Arrivals at amazing Moorish baths and you wonder how it is possible such grace. One of the attendants hands you a glass of spring water is ferruginous, knows screwdriver and here it is as if the violins Mozart aizzassero against biting and tearing a calf notes. But it is a moment. Knock out, you know rust but the mind is still there in pure contemplation. After a trial lasting nearly a century sleep the palace was restored into a hotel and opened its doors in 2010. Of course there is the pool, the spa golf course and anything like the modern dandy. But if these things are found almost ‘everywhere, it is the idea of a jump in time authentic real luxury represented by this place. An old bus of the early twentieth century, with its soft rounded lines is parked lí out for traghettarvi the early twentieth century. You just have to take the ticket and savor the subtle fear of not being able to go back.