Last week, I discussed how the town of Parati maintains an unique charm because of how it has conserved numerous elements that transports us to a certain point in the past.
But behind the horse carriages, old canyons and stony streets, there is another story. The forward thinking of certain creative individuals made the town emerge from a state of despair.
Parati was forgotten once its three periods of economic boom ended (gold, coffee and cachaca). It is true that the ghostly condition of the town played an important role with respect to restoration. But, how an empty town is supposed to gain back its vitally when the streets are empty?
Things started to change in the 1970s. The opening of a paved road between Rio de Janeiro and Santos (near Sao Paulo) brought an influx of artists to town. Some of these innovators were attracted to the beautiful architecture of the place (the town has barely changed in 250 years). Others found a refuge in the nearby stunning beaches and sublime mountains. Numerous sector started revitalization projects. Tourists started to flock the town once an interesting offering was developed.
Restaurants and cafes have popped in every street. Chefs have started to create dishes with local and international ingredients. Performers playing live music add a touch of happiness to the atmosphere.
I loved to see ice cream shops offering many flavor and creperies making all sorts of delicious snacks.
A lot of artisans and crafters have converted traditional houses into studios. I had the opportunity to talk to a lady who works with coins. She removes (with special equipment) the spaces between the coin’s edge and main figure. Then she uses the piece to create pendants, bracelets and rings. I was able to observe many unique crafts. In here, you have the opportunity to take home something different.
There are ateliers where innovative fashion designs are created.
There are boutiques selling clothes curated by highly talented individuals.
As you can imagine, artist have opened galleries to expose a variety of works of art.
There are many musical and cultural events, the most prominent of which is the Festa Literaria Internacional de Parati (International Literary Festival of Parati).
The Casa da Cultura Parati (House of Culture) was opened to the public in 2004 and holds a permanent exhibition on local history and culture. It also contains a library carrying interesting books about the area.
It is also interesting to notice how the restaurant scene goes to the street at night. Restaurants accommodate tables and chair over the streets of the historic center. You can walk around deciding where to have dinner under the stars.
As you can see, Parati is full of tradition. However, the elements connecting this town to the past are not factors stopping the development of a cheerful community.
A lot of people have worked in creating a cozy and prosperous town. I saw many young families enjoying the streets, parks and offerings.
So, Parati may be the perfect balance between old and new, melancholic and cheerful, artificial and natural. Hope the town continues to reinvent itself without losing its roots.
Have you visited a place with an old body but a young soul? Let me know in the comments section below.