Rarely I travel in Sao Paulo alone and usually never more than I have to but there’s a place about 45 minutes from my home that I thoroughly enjoy visiting. It’s a little town called Embu das Artes or just plain Embu. We have some good friends living there and they have a house on a 5 acre lot, both of which are prime but the combination is nothing short of exceptional. Getting to the house is challenging because of the many very poor neighborhoods I need to drive across on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, however the destination is worth the risk.
The story of the house goes along way back to the daughter of an Italian Countess, who took a fancy to the artist colony and discovered a perfect building lot in a new (at that time) gated subdivision about 15 minutes drive from downtown Embu. The young woman had a flair for house design and apparently her wealthy mother was over from Italy and she took an interest in the project from it’s inception. Between the two Italian woman they planned, designed and constructed an excellent example of a country manor. The house is appointed with such tasteful fixtures that it’s evident that someone had a real eye for detail and everything lends itself to the simple, yet spacious design, featuring a 2 story floor to ceiling windows facing the large backyard and looking into the surrounding forest at the back of the big lot. A mezzanine floor and loft type layout to the upper floor provide for an awesome vantage point down to the dinning and living areas plus outside through the huge windows.
The manor house is surrounded by wide verandas, as a house in the sub-tropics should be and among my favorite aspects of the house is a marvelous wrap-around balcony off the side of the house but up on the second floor. The balcony is tucked away, so that you’d hardly realize the size unless you were up there. Nicely decorated with wicker settee, coffee table and a couple of comfy lounge chairs, there’s a large hammock for relaxing on hot summer days and a few potted plants to provide a nice atmosphere. Everything about the design of the house took in consideration the weather, so naturally the balcony is built on the shadiest side of the house and in the evenings get’s a nice little breeze.
The subdivision where my friends own the manor house that I’ve just described, has grown up around them over the 12 plus years since the house was built. The construction has been slow but steady, however since the minimum lot sizes are large and most of the new homes quite luxurious it’s done nothing to diminish the appeal (or the value) of the manor house. The subdivision is built in a amongst hills and a central valley with small river and several ponds or small lakes. At the very center of the community is a gracious club house with swimming pool and tennis courts, where the community families can bring their guest and kids for a day around the club house and pool. Also, a small but rather chic restaurant is open on weekends and holidays in the club house. It’s like country club living, all year round.
When I did a search in Google on Embu I discovered that the town had a famous inhabitant for many years, who it seems was buried in Embu under an assumed name. I’ve read that in 1992 DNA conclusively proved that the bones from a grave were those of Joseph Menegel a Nazi war criminal who was known as the “Angel of Death”, for his nasty work at Auschwitz, which I won’t go into (now or ever). Just putting this man’s name in my Blog causes me uneasiness. The reason I mention him is because I found it curious that someone so wanted by Nazi hunters could escape so completely, for such a long time, only 45 minutes away from a huge cosmopolitan city. It’s odd that a place I’ve come to fancy is a place where this evil man was hiding for so long, he got extremely lucky in his choices of hiding spots, just hope he suffered in his conscience.
What has made Embu famous is it’s art and it’s furniture factories. The town is filled with hand made furniture and rough hewn wood fixtures. In many places I visited there were logs, some having come all the way from the Amazon, sitting out the back in the yard curing or drying in preparation to be cut on the premises and crafted into an endless variety of furniture pieces. I enjoy walking through the high end leather furniture shops, the people are very friendly and the smell of the fresh cut wood is all around. Every Sunday in the historic downtown section of Embu there’s an open market day, and people come from all around to buy and sell arts and crafts. Like any good art community there’s lot’s of funky free style people mingling about and lots of great deals on things mostly for the home. Not to mention an huge selection of art works.
If you are in or near Sao Paulo and have the time, I recommend a trip to Embu das Artes.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Embu, also “Embu das Artes”, is a Brazilian city in the State of São Paulo. It is a suburb of the capital. The population in 2003 was 223,581 inhabitants. Population density is 3194.01/km² and the area is 70 km².
Its history brought it a specialization as a city especially suited for artists, who are a large proportion of the tourists to the city.
Read more about Embu from Wikipedia