In a secluded valley in the Serra da Sao Mamede, Alto Alentejo, Portugal.

Vale Lourenco, a special place in rural Portugal.

Vale Lourenço and the Ribeira de Arronches, secret Alentejo, special places for a vacation in rural Portugal.

The valley to the South of the 1025m peak of Sao Mamede, Horta das Nascentes (Garden of Springs) gives birth to a number of springs which join to create the mountain stream Ribeira de Arronches.

A view of Vale Lourenço on the road from the peak of Sao Mamede, Alentejo, Portugal.

The road winds its way down from near the peak Sao Mamede, joins the valley and meets the ribeira at a small bridge which demarcates the top of Vale Lourenço.

The Quinta is at the high end of Vale Lourenço where the ribeira cuts through steep schist and quartzite. Further downstream the valley opens out into farmland around the hamlets of Montinho and Monterecos. The road runs along further forested land and takes you a few kilometres more to the picturesque village of Alegrete.

During the dryness of the summer months the ribeira gives an abundant source of water for the farmers in the valley who use it to irrigate their land and crops. Along with the spring water the goats, sheep and a few cattle keep the rich red schistous soil fertile and crops grow rapidly in the sunshine from spring until autumn.

Farming in Vale Lourenço is barely mechanised and the terraced land is more accessible to a mule drawn plough than a tractor. The traditional farming methods seen here keep this part of the world unspoilt and in harmony with the natural surroundings. As the population diminishes with no offspring to carry on the traditional way of life, one can only speculate how long this valley will be farmed in a way that appears to be a rural idyll.