An 18th-Century Time Warp on the Costa Verde
As the gold rush of the 18th century died down, so did Parati’s importance as the flourishing port for galleons carrying precious cargo from inland Minas Gerais to Portugal’s royal court: The town went into hibernation, encapsulating its colonial heyday until its eventual rediscovery in the 1950s. Located on the coast midway between Rio and Sao Paulo, its precious time-warped beauty is one of the few things on which the cariocas and paulistas (Sao Paulo residents) agree.
Visitors and locals navigate the waterfront cobblestone streets (closed to traffic) by foot or by bicycle, while small family-run shops confirm the suspicion that this is a town where the locals still thrive on fishing and fanning. There’s no action and no beach to speak of, but you can still admire the fine houses and the few elaborate churches that wealthy merchants built for themselves (along with two churches exclusively for their slaves and servants). One of the first inns to jump on the tourist bandwagon is still the town’s most charming: Pousada Pardieiro’s rustic simplicity is offset by a stylish selection of artwork, objects, and such discerning touches as chilled Champagne in your minibar and a pool for further refreshment. Parati’s location on the lush, jungle-clad Costa Verde makes it the perfect jumping-off place for boat excursions to any of the 365 outlying islands and the deserted beach idylls they promise.