During my week in São Miguel I checked out some more towns on the southern coast of the island: Vila Franca do Campo and Povoação. For different reasons and using different means of transport. Both of them offered additional opportunities to see more of this part of the world so why not?
Vila Franca do Campo
Located around 25Km from Ponta Delgada and connected by regular local buses, this town was the first capital of São Miguel island. Nowadays it is the starting point for trips to the islet of Vila Franca do Campo, about 1Km from the coast. I was planning to go on a kayaking tour here but the weather had different ideas and all had to be cancelled at short notice due to very strong winds and rain. That was rather disappointing as I was looking forward to some time on the water.
As Plan B, I decided to go and visit the town anyway. So I hopped on a bus and after a 50-55 minutes journey along the coast I reached Vila Franca do Campo.
I quickly learnt that in 1522 an earthquake caused a landslide that buried the entire town. A sign near the bus station explains that. I also learnt that on 26 July 1582 the naval Battle of Vila Franca do Campo took place, this was during the War of the Portuguese Succession and Portugal lost its independence for 60 years.
I walked around in the rain for hours, looking for interesting spots and quirky places. I spent a lot of time around the port and the beaches. The town was very quiet except by the main square, it looked like they were setting up for a big festival.
A walk up the hill will take you to the Miradouro da Nossa Senhora da Paz, by the church with the same name. I didn’t go all the way to the top but I was still able to appreciate great views of the seaside town from the hill.
The car journey to Povoação from Ponta Delgada (around 55-60Km) goes via the hot springs area of Furnas, where you may want to stop for a bit – see my next post for some information.
The settlement of Povoação Velha was the first colony on the island of São Miguel around 1432. Several monuments in town remember this historical time period, an example is the Porta do Povoamento arch by the harbour. A stroll around town will introduce you to churches in the traditional black-and-white basalt stones. Or you can head to a miradouro or two for some stunning panoramic views of the area.