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Tourism within the Rio de Janeiro State is quite rich. The hotels, both onshore and in the mountains, are top quality. There are, at least, three cities that deserve a visit: Paraty, Búzios and Petrópolis. Consider also extending your visit, to the towns Teresópolis, Friburgo, Penedo, Itatiaia and Visconde de Mauá, that have received a lot of imigrants and are considered historical, magic and poetic destinations. It can be interesting to include some towns in the Minas Gerais State.

Some places are quite famous due to their beautiful landscapes and/or beaches, such as Búzios that until 1964 used to be a simple fishermen small town. During that year, however, the famous Brigit Bardot spent some time with her boyfriend at the small town, fact that changed the place forever, transforming it in an internationally known balneary.

Foreigners from all over the world, especially the French and Argentine ones can be met in Búzios during the whole year. Rua das Pedras is always a crowded street, mainly at night, offering excellent and fine gastronomy, music for all tastes, purchases and flirting.

Petrópolis, a singular city, is only 65 km distant from Rio de Janeiro capital developed around the Pedro II Emperor’s Palace, built in the piece of land he inherited from his father.
The Imperial Family used to spend the summers there, because the cool temperature was always quite agreeable, and the court and the businessman at the time used to follow them. The capital of the country was literally transferred to the mountains. Located at 810m height, the city has received many German immigrants during the 19th century. It is worthy to visit the Quitandinha, the Imperial Museum, the Crystal Palace, São Pedro de Alcântara Cathedral(where the Emperor Pedro II and his wife, Teresa Cristina’s remains are kept), the Encantada, the house occupied by Santos Dumont during many seasons, the big and beautiful mansions at Avenida Koeler, observing their architecture, the squares and many other interesting places.

Paraty is located between the Serra do Mar and the bay crowded with islands, at 265 km from Rio de Janeiro City. It still preserves all the aspects of an old small town with an international charm, in a 35 city blocks. Side by side in the narrow streets, covered with pé-de-moleque (kind of pebble stone) pavement, the colonial style houses became inns, restaurants, workmanship small stores and art galleries. The history of Paraty began with the Portuguese people arrivals, at the end of the 16th century. During the following century the town became an important trade center, a mandatory passage for those coming from Rio de Janeiro City to the Minas Gerais State. Paraty used to be a main channel for richnesses such as gold, precious stones, beans, corn, sugar cane and the famous aguardientes, but then with the opening of the new way the movement of the harbor felt down. Later on, the iron way (rail-road) was built and began to displace definitively the coffee business to the Paraíba Valley. The slavery abolition turned the Paraty’s situation even worse. Isolated from everything during near a century, it used to have just 600 inhabitants at the beginning of the 20th century. With the opening of the new roads and after the Rio-Santos Highway, Paraty was rediscovered. Today it is a busy colonial town with international success, including FLIP (The Paraty International Literary Festival) that happens every July. The Pinga (Aguardiente) Festival and the Festa do Divino are other famous and crowded events.

In Teresópolis, one will find the Orquidário Aranda, the Comari Club, the Teresópolis Market, the Serra dos Órgãos National Park where the famous Dedo de Deus (photo) is located. A dozen clubs makes Teresópolis a well frequented by golf players and climber people.

From Teresópolis, you can go to Nova Friburgo following the 80km circuit called Terê-Fri full of surprises, among these, the Finnish Furniture, the Stone Woman, the Crémerie & Farm Génève where you can degust a huge variety of goat cheese and taste the Chef Reinaldo Pires’ excellent gastronomy. This region is also known as the “Green Belt”, because it produces 90% of the potherbs consumed within the State.

Have you ever been to the Nêgo Garden ?

Geraldo Simplício, best known as Nêgo, was born in the Ceará State in 1943. He made several exhibitions in the Northeast of Brazil from 1966 on. He lived in the São Bento Monastery and received Cecília Falk sponsorship, moving to Nova Friburgo, where he lives in a countryside and where he creates truly masterpieces in the ravines of his property.

A great number of his wooden sculptures are in Germany. The Nego Garden is the only one of this kind in the whole world.

Another interesting place to visit and have a snack is the Queijaria Suíça, (Swiss Cheesery) or Frialp, located at the 49 km of the Tere-Fri circuit, that since 1987 is sponsored by the Fribourg Institute.
FRIALP produces cheeses such as moleson and raclette with goat or cow milk and other varieties, such as the Swiss type cheeses, which remind the emmenthal, the gruyère, the gorgonzola, the reblochon, the gouda and the sbrinz, beside the Minas standard cheese, fresh ricotta, cream cheese and a fondue mixture. Chocolates and truffles are also part of the products for sale. A small Immigration Museum is quite nearby, where objects, photos and documents tell a little of the Swiss Immigration history that arrived there during the beginning of the 19th Century.

Nova Friburgo is located at 846 m height, 136 km from the Rio de Janeiro City and its population is estimated in about 200 thousand inhabitants. At the city center and just under the Getúlio Vargas sculpture feet, in the same name square, is located the geodesic mark of the Rio de Janeiro State. Some of the districts of the municipality reach 1,000 m high, but the highest point of the Serra do Mar at that region reaches 2,316 m.

Nova Friburgo is known as the State capital of the Underwear Fashion and also the second bigger flowers producer in Brazil, only bellow the city of Holambra, in São Paulo State. Olericulture, goat breeding, textile and metallurgical industries and the tourism are the other growing propellers in Nova Friburgo, which was initially colonized by 261 Swiss families during the period between 1819 -1820, totalizing 1,682 immigrants. The city was named as Nova Friburgo, by the Swiss immigrants, in honor of the city the majority of the Swiss families came from, Fribourg. Nova Friburgo was the first non-Portuguese colony founded in Brazil, becoming the true Brazilian Swiss.

Excepting Petrópolis, it is recommended to spend the night in all the other destinations. See below:

Routes suggested outskirts the Capital:

  • Angra dos Reis and Paraty – 2 days, one overnight stay;
  • Petrópolis – 1 day, no overnight stay;
  • Búzios – 2 days, one overnight stay;
  • Petrópolis/Teresópolis and Friburgo – 3 days, 2 overnight stays;
  • Itatiaia/Penedo and Visconde de Mauá – 3 days, 2 overnight stays;
  • Vassouras/Valença/Conservatória – 2 days, 1 overnight stay.
In Minas Gerais State:
  • Ouro Preto, Mariana, Tiradentes and Congonhas - 3 days and 2 overnight stays;
  • Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto, Mariana, Tiradentes and Congonhas - 3 days and 2 overnight stays.

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