São Vicente, Lisbon, Portugal. “This is where our friendship begins”. This is the message we sent on WhatsApp to the owners of the Santa Clara 1728 hotel during our travels. That morning we were leaving Lisbon, driving over the Vasco de Gama bridge towards Arraiolos in the Alentejan countryside, to reach their farm for a few days. In the end, more than Lisbon, we’d left behind that particular eighteenth-century building in Campo Santa Clara, which almost summed up in itself an idea of completeness and all our affection for the capital and the Portuguese. From the window of our suite, that morning the dome of the National Pantheon, the old church of Santa Engrácia, had made us think that the light of Lisbon makes everything that is white seem more majestic and honest. The evening before, we’d gone out with them to dinner and then climbed up to a miradouro to see Lisbon by night and a lit-up Madonna with flowers, like two pairs of lovers. We’d stayed up late together studying their next splendid plan on a map sneakily unrolled on the dining table. The Rodriguezes have these things in their blood, and they simmered away in silence until they found expression in a space for guests: honour and memory, purity, family, sense of time, silence, responsibility for the future, Portugal. It comes as no surprise that we made friends in just one evening and embraced an easy mission: to get to know all their houses, each one lovable and exquisite in its own different way.
Words Paola Corini. Photo courtesy Silent Living | Santa Clara 1728