Olhao dates back to Roman times, when it enjoyed its first boom, courtesy of the rich fishing seas just off its coast. These areas remain vibrant and continue to sustain the local community.
The daily fish market (designed some say by Gustave Eiffel) and the Saturday market that runs along the adjoining waterfront are without question some of the best in the world and heaven for all foodies!
The town has escaped the package tourist and golfing crowds. It isn't technically a beach town. However, one of its joys is taking a ferry or river taxi to the outlying islands. The islands of Armona, Culatra, Farol and Deserta each have subtly different characters and vibe, but all share wonderful clean beaches and echo a slower, simpler time. No cars, kids jumping off pontoons and having the freedom to roam and play with friends without fear or restriction, the air rich with the smell of freshly grilled sardines …
A few years back, a handful of artists and creatives recognised the magic and potential of Olhao’s old town, and set themselves the task of saving its unique mix of Moorish cubism and faded grandeur.
We joined them in 2013, at a time when Portugal and the town could be fairly described as on its knees. But not now! The town has refound its heartbeat and on almost every street at least one of the houses of the old town is being brought back to its former glory …
Casa Fuzetta is one of those houses. Indeed, one of the biggest. With elements dating back to the sixteenth century, the principal building was commissioned as a gentleman’s residence by Dr Carlos Fuzeta at the end of the nineteenth century. Dr Fuzeta was something of a local hero – a maritime lawyer, philosopher and philanthropist, and in the only instance we know of, the town honoured him with a large plaque on the facade of the house.
After Dr Fuzeta's death the house was split up and suffered terrible neglect. However, it is still affectionately remembered by the older members of the community for when the property housed the electricity board and where they went to pay their first electricity bills… They have all kept a keen eye on our restoration work and shared their love and stories of the house.