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6 characters from the historical cities in Minas Gerais that represent the local spirit

Leonor Macedo

Gui Machado

Traveling is not just about exploring new places. People are essential to help you understand a different culture. And talking with Minas Gerais natives is essential to truly understand Minas Gerais. Learn about a few characters that represent well the local spirit.

 

Dalton, guide at Uai Trip

Do you remember Brazilian singer Dalto, who rose to fame in the 1980s? Even if you don’t, perhaps you’ve listened to such hits as “Muito Estranho,” “Espelhos D’Água,” and “Pessoa” (you can listen to these songs here). Well, Dalton, a tour guide at Uai Trip, has this name because of Dalto.

 

His voice is not as melodious as the singer’s, but the specialty of Dalton from Tiradentes is telling stories. Stories about the city, the region, and Minas Gerais. And he knows a lot about these places! He knows so much that sometimes words are not enough.

 

Dalton grew up there. He remembers the time when Tiradentes didn’t even have a drug store, much less a high school. And this was not long ago: singer Dalto was already riding the fame wave! Stop by Uai Trip to talk to him if you want to listen to his stories!

 

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Zé Doceiro

Imagine growing up in a family that makes the most famous sweets in Minas Gerais. This is the story of Zé Doceiro, the son of Chico Doceiro, who made one of the best treats in Minas Gerais. Chico died in 2017, at the age of 87, after spending his life producing crispy cones filled with dulce de leche. “My father treated everyone the same. Once I heard him talking with someone and when I came closer, I saw it was Tom Cavalcante. But he didn’t even know who the humorist was,” says Zé.

 

Every day, he sells around 400 to 500 cones in Tiradentes. There aren’t many options at the shop: in addition to the puff pastry snack, he also sells cajuzinho and other similar sweets. “These days, it’s trendy to be artisanal, but we have been artisanal since 1965.”

 

Lúcia do Queijo

Next to the train station in Tiradentes, from where the Maria Fumaça locomotive departs to São João del-Rei, Lúcia Resende sells her award-winning cheese. But it’s not an ordinary award: it was recognized as the third best cheese in the world in the category Aged for 60 days. And it was selected by the French, who are famous for being specialists in cheese.

 

“I put my cheese in my bag and went to France. I wasn’t expecting the competition’s result, and visiting the country was good enough. Have you ever been to Paris? It’s wonderful!” she proudly says, recalling the adventure that took place in 2017.

 

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Behind the booth she sets up in the outdoor market on Saturdays and Sundays, she shows the pieces that have been awarded in Brazil and helped her raise her children. The official name of Lúcia’s cheese is Sabor da Serra, made on Sítio da Conquista. And you can take several pieces home!

 

Filó

Installed downstairs in Filó’s house, her restaurant blends Italian and Minas Gerais cooking. Everything is homemade: the ingredients are grown there and the pasta dishes are cooked and baked in the wood-burning stove. Just take a seat and help yourself, because you can eat all you want for a fixed price.

 

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Do you want something to drink? Just open the fridge, grab whatever you want, and then tell her what you drank. It’s like when you’re at home.

 

But the best part is listening to Filó’s stories while enjoying some gnocchi with Pereskia aculeata filling, watching the kids play in the pool (the pool is open to anyone who wants to take a dip). Ask Filó about the story involving Tancredo Neves and how she had to pray for the Brazilian president’s health when she was a kid. It’s a can’t-miss place!

 

Toti, of Oficina de Agosto

Visual artist Antônio Carlos Bech, also known as Toti, had a personal project: to teach people how to earn a living from handicrafts. So, he left Embu das Artes (SP) and went to Bichinho, which was just a neighborhood in the rural area of Prados (MG).

 

The neighborhood is still in the city’s rural area, but since Toti’s arrival there, the lives of many people have changed. He put his project Oficina de Agosto into practice, teaching several handicraft techniques to over 70 people and making Bichinho the region’s main handicraft center.

 

And Minas Gerais handicrafts are wonderful, with the advantage of being cheaper there. Toti employs 15 artisans, and most of the people who learned to use their hands to make art have opened their own studios or shops.

 

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Nando Chaves

In the historical cities in Minas Gerais, everyone has a foot in history. They are either a distant relative of a person that was important a few centuries ago or an excellent storyteller. Nando Chaves is both!

 

The great-grandmother of his great-grandfather was Antônia Rita da Encarnação Xavier, the youngest sister of Tiradentes, a rebel and leader of the Inconfidência Mineira, a separatist movement.

 

Well, from this very distant relative, Nando Chaves inherited the oldest distillery in Brazil: Engenho Boa Vista, located in Coronel Xavier Chaves, where he produces the oldest cachaça in Brazil.

 

He became a master distiller after turning 18 and learning to drink cachaça. When you visit the place, you learn about the beverage’s production process, but the most fun part is listening to Nando’s stories in between sips. On Saturdays, they also offer fried homemade sausages and manioc to accompany the tasting session.

Engenho Boa Vista: Rua João XXIII, 443, Coronel Xavier Chaves