September 09, 2020 –
My dear Laura,
Since your departure, I have been journey by road, travelling without ties or hindrances. Movement has become an appetite for life. To be honest, this travelling fever helps me to conquer a certain form of freedom.
Here I am finally in Lisbon. I have just stopped in Alfama, a neighborhood imbued with an irrational force, almost an oration. I set down my luggage for a few days at the Santa Clara 1728, it is a sumptuous place. I’m sure you would like it. Everything is tasteful and beautifully embodied by the owners João and his wife Andreia.
I chose this place to remember how good it was to travel together. You left me with an appetence for discovering unexpected places. From the top of my floor, I have a view of the National Pantheon and St. Vincent Monastery. Here, I experience a true rest of mind. I take advantage of this opportunity to write to you – full of happiness – in this 18th century palace with its majestic volumes.
As soon as you enter the Santa Clara 1728, Plato’s formula “Beauty is the splendor of truth” takes on even more meaning. There are two huge 18th century canvases framed in gilded wood in two key rooms: A nativity scene in the monumental entrance under vaults rising 4 meters high. In the dining room, a scene showing men playing. Knowing you, you would have interpreted this as an approach to the world by its beauty – that of men, places and their specificities.
This remains between us, dear Laura, but I think that João and Andreia show that certain wanderings of the imagination can find an incarnation in places conducive to daydreaming. It is enough to project one’s desires there and make them come true. All the charm of the Santa Clara 1728 results from this.
You can well imagine that minimalism is here. I like the idea of an architecture stripped of all ornaments in order to let the imagination take over.
You would be surprised to see white Pedra de Lioz almost everywhere from the masterful staircase to the huge theatrical bathroom much larger than the bedrooms. Do you remember the first time we saw this stone, it was during our trip to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil at the Basilica “Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia”. It’s not surprising to find some in Santa Clara 1728, it’s the emblem of Lisbon.
I have also learned that this Portuguese limestone, quite rare, is extracted in quarries located exclusively in the regions around Lisbon. Like the Basilica in Brazil, several monuments in Portugal were built in Lioz stone. Thus was the Monastery of the Jerónimos, the Torre de Belém.
I could not resist the temptation to take a bath in this tub of Lioz, dug with a special machine, giving it a touch of such sensual softness. I had a real moment of prosperity. No doubt that the architect Manuel Aires Mateus has a passion for the very long term, even further than history: Planet Earth, its genesis, water, stone.
You would have been delighted to discover the sublime dining room where a table for 20 guests stretches out. You would enjoy an idyllic gustatory distancing knowing that you can’t stand my table manners.
Then you will taste the dishes of the chef José Miranda, he elaborates dishes based on 80% vegetables and 20% proteins. He started his career with chef Seppe Nobels of Graaanmarrkt 13 in Antwerp. The bread is homemade. The cheese, vegetables and meat come from the family farm in Alentejo. I let you imagine the breakfast, a real explosion of flavours.
Another detail that you would like at the Santa Clara 1728 is the silence that reigns there. I feel like a cat walking around within its walls. Here silence is not an obligation, it is an art of living. No rules, just common sense.
It’s late, my dear Laura, I’m falling asleep. Looking at my screen filled with her lines, I realize that it is still good to converse with you. At times like this, my heart beats harder, as if you were by my side.
Tomorrow I will get lost in the crowd…
✨ All my love, Michael
Santa Clara 1728
Campo de Santa Clara 128 RC, 1100-473 Lisboa, Portugal
Phone: +351 932 251 056