A secret adults-only culinary escape in the countryside
Take two passionate young Italians, a love of rural living, a taste for all things delicious, a valley of orange groves and cats, and you’ve got Gato Preto de Silves.
Just a little inland from the stunning old Moorish capital of the Algarve, Silves, lays a secluded, luxurious and adults-only B&B with guest cabins occupying a tranquil spot in the heart of the countryside. Inside met with owners Gloria and Matteo for a beautiful home-cooked breakfast and tour around the property. The driveway gives you a sneak preview of what awaits you thanks to the mature and well-kept gardens with only the noise of the birds chirping, which instantly provide the feeling of relaxation. “Our B&B is a rural retreat made for long evenings and lazy mornings. Here, we have a pool and hammocks for relaxing,” Matteo explains. “Breakfast is a slow affair, showcasing regional cuisine and served either at the tables under the shade of the pergola or on the guests’ private terraces. The garden and verandas are the perfect places to while away the hours or even an entire day.”
The couple moved to Silves some 10 years ago and have been busy creating their vision of tranquillity and comfort away from the stresses of modern life. There are currently two luxurious cabins, with plans in place for a third. They are located in the garden in secluded positions to ensure privacy, with terraces, fully equipped kitchenette and a glorious view over the sprawling orange groves. Gloria and Matteo took great care when designing everything, and this is particularly evident in the cabins. They didn’t go for the easy options when choosing finishes, with details such as a very charming little window that’s been carved into the kitchenettes that gives the feeling of being at one with the countryside. Each guest accommodation has its own theme, with the two cabins picking local accents, incorporating Moorish and beach styles. Within the main villa, there are three guest suites, which are spacious and airy, all with private outdoor space and amenities. All rooms have been fitted with air-conditioning and have floor-to-ceiling windows to make sure guests are always connected to their environment.
The heart of the property has to be the beautiful pool area, with big mature trees offering shade from the soaring summer temperatures and the communal outdoor dining spaces, where guests can enjoy chatting and stargazing in the evening. There’s a two-bedroom villa complete with its own pool adjacent to the B&B, but this is a self-catering option and is also adults only. All suites, cabins and the villa come with everything you could need to enjoy a peaceful stay.
The couple also runs a variety of tailor-made gastronomic and tour-based activities that they’ve moulded together with a few hand-picked suppliers to ensure the best possible experiences and quality. The tours enable guests to set off into the hills on an electric bike and enjoy a delicious picnic in the wilderness or take a very Algarvean cataplana cookery course. Another popular experience includes a packed day to discover Silves and its local bounty, the humble orange, with lots of stops along the way to recharge and enjoy some local treats. There is also a “meet the farmer” tour, where guests can really get in touch with some local characters and see how the Algarvean way of life was in the not so distant past. It’s an ideal starting point for outdoor programmes such as hiking along the Via Algarviana trail, bike rides and off-road activities into the dams. Back at Gato Preto de Silves, on Thursdays, Gloria produces a homemade dinner with delicious and traditional food, creating an exclusive menu inspired by Algarvean cuisine with an Italian touch. All the ingredients are locally sourced and usually from the Silves market in the city. The couple recently acquired a ruin at the bottom of the property, where Gloria will work her magic with her authentic cookery and private dining workshop.
Driven by their love for quality travel, adventure and cuisine, Gloria and Matteo bring their personal flair to their ever-growing piece of heaven in the Algarve. Silves is undergoing somewhat of a facelift recently, with people dedicating their energies to promoting rural tourism. Only a 15 minutes’ drive from Lagoa and touristy villages of Ferragudo and Carvoeiro, you will find yourself transported back in time, to a simpler and more authentic Portugal. Boasting a spectacular castle, winding river and beautiful old buildings, Silves is the perfect off-season destination.