Barra do Bié’s tips
for you to know Cunha
Barra do Bié’s tips
for you to know Cunha
With many pottery shops and landscapes that mix mountains, lavender fields, waterfalls and peaks with a view to the sea, Cunha has become a great city for couples and families. Located in the high Paraíba Valley, in São Paulo’s countryside, it has a population of over 20,000 and an economy focused on livestock, agriculture and tourism. In the city center, some buildings remind the time when the region was part of Rota do Ouro, the “gold road” (18th century) and Rota do Café, the “coffee road” (18th and 19th centuries), through which many valuable goods made their way to and from the shore. Today, the trip between Cunha and the seashore is very touristic. The Cunha-Paraty Road has great restaurants with rural ambiance, the Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar (a state park preserving local vegetation) and our inn Barra do Bié.
Distances: 235 km (146 miles) from São Paulo and 302 km (188 miles) from Rio de Janeiro.
Location: between the Quebra-Cangalha, Bocaina and Serra do Mar mountain ranges, in the Paraíba Valley, São Paulo’s countryside.
Hydrography: The area is where the springs and basins of Paraitinga and Paraibuna rivers, which become the Paraíba do Sul river.
Weather: between 9 °C (48°F) and 21 °C (70°F) in the winter and 17 °C (62°F) and 25 °C (77°F) in the summer.
Website – cunha.sp.gov.br
Ateliê Renato Carvalho
Unique, exclusive and hand-made designs made with Brazilian stones, gems and silver. Rua Geronimo Mariano Leite, 185, Vila Rica.
In this studio, an artisan produces silver jewels. Rua Geronimo Mariano Leite, 462, Vila Rica. Tel.: (12) 99704-5221.
In 1975, a group of young artists formed by Toshiyuki and Mieko Ukeseki, Alberto Cidraes and brothers Vicco and Toninho Cordeiro found, in Cunha’s geography and its civil township support, what they needed to create art through pottery. In the city’s old slaughterhouse, they’ve built their first wood burned kiln, in the noborigama style. This technique, which combines oriental and iberian-indigenous influences in the production of pottery, requires the pieces to be heated in high-temperature kilns (up to 1400°C/2552°F). In Brazil, there are about 20 noborigama kilns, 5 of which are in Cunha. With many studios in the city to this day, Alberto Cidraes (Ateliê do Antigo Matadouro, R. Manuel Prudente de Toledo, 461,www.cidraes.com) and Mieko Konishi (Ateliê Mieko e Mario Konishi, R. Gerônimo Mariano Leite, 510) have opened their doors to many followers. Besides the two pioneer studios, the main ones to still use the noborigama technique are: Suenaga e Jardineiro (R. Dr. Paulo Jarbas da Silva, 150, www.ateliesj.com.br), Leí Galvão e Augusto Campos (Oficina de Cerâmica, Av. Antônio Luiz Monteiro, 816) and Atelier Gallery Tokai (R. Gerônimo Mariano Leite, 350, www.gallerytokai.blogspot.com.br). Over time, other studios brought other pottery techniques – the well-known is Raku. Ceramists using other techniques include: José Carlos de Carvalho (Carvalho Cerâmica, Rua Gerônimo Mariano Leite, 190), who uses sgraffito and sgraffito with collage; Atelier Cristiano e Sandra Quirino (Rua Manoel Prudente de Toledo, 474), which sell pieces burned in gas kilns and combine pottery and stones; and the couple Mali and Wagner Gambaré, producing raku ware (Gaia Arte Cerâmica, R. Alcides Barbeta, 250).
Abertura de Fornada | Opening of the Kiln
Cunha’s pottery artists (who practice the raku and noborigama techniques) promote several events every year to show visitors the final process of their craft: the moment when they take their pieces out of the kilns, already polished and enameled. Besides being able to buy, first hand, a freshly made new collection, tourists can also learn about the whole process of making pottery directly from the artisans. To fill an entire noborigama oven, it takes about three months’ work from the ceramists. After molded, the pieces are burnt and then cooled for a few days before getting the finishing touches and being put back in the kiln for the event. Free of charge, the Opening of the Kilns usually happens during carnival, Easter, the beginning of school vacations in July, the Independence Day and the first week of December.
Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar | Serra do Mar’s State Park
The park is located in an environmentally preserved area and features four trekking routes – one of which can be done by bicycle. The easiest and quickest one is the Paraibuna trail, . It is 1,7 km (10 miles) long, taking about 1 hour and 10 minutes (round trip) and which does not require a guide. Along the trail, there are three waterfalls in the Paraibuna river, with swimming spots and two drinking fountains. The two other trails do require a guide, starting off at 10am, and have to be booked three days in advance at the park’s head office. The Rio Bonito trail is a strictly walking trek, takes three and a half hours (round trip) and is 7,6 km (4.7 miles) long; the Cachoeiras trail is 14,4 km (9 miles) long and takes 6 hours on foot, but it’s possible to drive part of the way. Estrada da Paraibuna, km 20 km (access by Rodovia Cunha-Paraty, km 56,5). Monday to Sunday 8am to 4pm. Phone (12) 3111-2353 / (12) 3111-1818.
More information (Portuguese only)
Pedra da Macela | Macela Rock
From the top of the rock you can see the border between the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and the sea between Ilha Grande and the Paraty and Angra dos Reis enbayments. Getting there requires a 2 km long steep walk (1.2 miles) from the parking lot (access by Estrada Cunha-Paraty, km 66). During the winter, the sky is clear and the view is stunning. Avoid cloudy days.
Lavandário | Lavender Farm
Thousands of lavender bushes bloom yearlong on the crest of a hill with a view to the mountain range and the Cunha-Paraty Road. Besides taking great pictures, you can buy locally made lavender-based products, from cookies to cosmetics. Don’t miss the sunset here, it’s amazing. Estrada Cunha-Paraty, km 54,7.
More information (Portuguese only)
Vale Radical | Vale Radical Ranch
Besides river canoeing, the place offers rappelling, tracking trails and mountain bike rental.
Estrada da Capivara (2 km/1,2 miles of dirt road), access by the km 42 of Rodovia Guará-Cunha. Phone (012) 98147-6485.
Besides a delicious cup of coffee, it’s well worth it to take a walk through the beautiful lavender fields. It´s possible here to buy locally made products, such as perfumes, soaps and flower arrangements. Rodovia Cunha- Paraty, Km 61,5, Phone. (12) 98107-7614.
Fazenda Aracatu | Aracatu Farm
It all started with a little stand, where the owners used to sell products from their farm, such as milk, cheese and nuts. Today, in a large wooden hangar, there’s a bit of everything: a coffee shop, an ice-cream shop (where the ice-cream is homemade from milk of the farm’s Jersey cattle) and other farm products: fresh milk, cheese, sweets, handmade salamis, shiitake, wines, among others. Estrada Cunha-Paraty, km 56, (012) 99604-4796.
Oficina de lã / Wool workshop
Since 2007, a group of craftswomen from the Paraibuna district, in Cunha, crafts carpets and pillows using wool from local sheep farmers. Together, they shear and clean the wool. The pieces they make don’t get any kind of dyeing. Their neighbors from Sítio Yawara lead the work and provide part of the wool. Visits can be made on weekends (from 9am to 5pm) or booked in advance on the phone (12) 3111-5212. They also sell honey, beans and lamb. Estrada da Paraibuna, km 8,5, access by km 56 of Estrada Cunha-Paraty, (12) 3111-5212.
The farmers and residents association of the districts of Rio Baixo, Rodeio, Sítio and Paraibuna offers guided visitation to farms and other tourist attractions along the Paraibuna Road, in Cunha. The guide provides detailed explanations about local activities. The times of the tours are flexible, but they always start out at the association headquarters, at Estrada do Paraibuna, km 6.5. Phone: (12) 99710-0963.
Bar da Vila / Adega Cunha
Rua Prof. Alcides Nogueira, 288 (Vila Rica), (12) 3111-1417
Restaurante Villa Favorita
Estrada Cunha/Paraty, km 65,2