As we walk further in our journey of self-discovery and enlightenment, leaving the cosy village of Alvorge with its beautiful white houses and friendly people, we head to Rabaçal, where the Roman presence can be so utterly felt.
The road from Tomar to Conímbriga passed very near Rabaçal as proved by the discovery of a milestone from the time of Emperor Decio. It marked eight miles from Conímbriga.
Earlier, many centuries earlier the owner of the Roman Villae in Rabaçal could see these mountains when looking out of the tower, towards the rising sun. He was certainly well to do and from here he could see his properties.
We know that he was rich because of the dimensions of the palace: large halls, with a dome resting on columns. The walls were covered with marble stone. The floors had multicoloured mosaic better than the ones in Conímbriga.
The Roman Villa of Rabaçal is located 12 km south of Conímbriga, part of the territory of the old civitas, near the Roman road that linked Olisipo to Bracara Augusta, in the current county of Penela, district of Coimbra. The probable date of its construction is the middle of the 4th century AD, as confirmed by the findings, especially the abundant numismatic collection, and it would have been inhabited until the 5th century AD. Centuries after the Roman Villa was abandoned, it was partially reoccupied in the 15th and 16th centuries as a cemetery.
The Rabaçal valley is surprisingly a Mediterranean place: seen from Monte de Vez (513m), the Monte da Ateanha (422m), the Monte do Cruzeiro (375m), the Gerumelo (409m) or from the so called Castle of Rabaçal (367m) will make the climb worthwhile. The aridness of the lime is good for the oaks, the elm oaks and the cork oak. The grass of Santa Maria, the rockrose and the everlasting sands are dotted with goats and sheep. The stone walls divide the properties and the terraces support old olive trees. It is a grandiose and sunny south.
Once in Rabaçal, you must taste the absolutely mouth-watering Rabaçal cheese. It’s a DOP cured cheese, with white soft, semi-hard or hard paste, a few small and irregular holes, or even none, obtained after coagulation of sheep and goat milk from pastures in the Rabaçal region.