n a discreet setting above
the cascading Lençóis River and the small approach road to town, artist Alcino Caetano's beautifully restored colonial home evokes the 19th-century heyday of local diamond production.

The house is decorated with antique furnishings, azulejos and ceramics hand-painted by Alcino himself, applying a technique of his own invention that uses clay from the old diamond workings rather than ink.

Whether you want to explore the natural marvels of the Diamond Highlands ("Chapada Diamantina" in Portuguese) or just relax in an idyllic and laid-back colonial town, Alcino's is the place to replenish and recharge.


Alcino's is not a hotel. You are treated as a guest in a private home. There are four bedrooms with their own bathrooms, and a further three bedrooms that share a total of four outside bathrooms. All the rooms have been individually designed and decorated by Alcino himself.

The public areas all contribute to the welcoming feel. There are balconies with hammocks, a pretty interior patio (the property of two tortoises and shaded by a large jambo tree - if you visit in June-July you can taste its delicious fruit), the ceramics workshop and showroom (free internet access in the latter), a library, a garden with a lawn on which you can park (though it's an unusual non-Brazilian who arrives in Lencois by car), and nearly an acre of orchard on the hillside above the house.


At Alcino's this is not of the routine gulp-something-down-to-stave-off-hunger-till-lunchtime kind. It is a leisurely and unashamedly hedonistic experience that may well be one of your life's more memorable breakfasts.

Every detail is attended to by your host, who presides in person at this superb gastronomic rite. But two thoughts must be banished before you sit down: haste and diets.

The succession of delicious little dishes passed out from the kitchen's serving window includes breads, savouries, cakes, egg and dairy dishes, tropical fruits, jams and many exotic extras made from cereals, herbs and vegetables. They all arrive at the communal table on plates hand-decorated by Alcino in the workshop.

Alcino's attention never wavers as he checks that everything is served at the right temperature and with the right accompaniments, and that everyone eats at their own speed.

Every breakfast is different, so even if you have been staying for a while
the chances are that each morning will bring some pleasant surprises.

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