I somehow managed to swindle my way onto my parents’ otherwise civilized vacation in northern Portugal last week and despite their grand display of generosity, I still dragged them practically straight from the airport to A Vida Portuguesa, a small store tucked away in Lisbon’s Chiado Baixa district I’d been lusting over for months.
I had heard about A Vida from a Portuguese friend before the trip, of their unbelievable selection of cooking oils, canned and tinned foods, soaps and wooden cookware, all in their gorgeous original packaging — most of which are now in a satisfied heap of pride on my floor.
A Vida aside, I was really blown away by the attention (some new but mostly decades old) to typography and package design in general all throughout the country, from books to window displays to port bottles and just about everything in between.
And finally, the tiles. Portugal is covered top to bottom in stunning tile work, some inside, but mostly exteriors — their answer to the problem of the endless boring plaster facades they amassed during the gothic age (the Italians went with frescos, to each their own). I lived in different parts of Italy for a number of years and while it’s got its charm, there’s something crazy beautiful about a country covered in five centuries worth of tiles. Now my second trip, Portugal has become one of my favorite places to visit — get there if you can.