Furnas - A view from our expert author

Furnas town and Fumaroles by Paweł Opaska, DreamstimeFurnas town and Fumaroles © Paweł Opaska, Dreamstime

As well as the 19th-century Terra Nostra garden, Furnas is home to hot springs and fumaroles.

If you approach from the north along the main road you will see a turning off to your right signposted  Pico do Ferro. This is a fine viewpoint over the Furnas Valley, and helps get your bearings once down in the valley. Along with the view of Sete Cidades, this village in its huge caldera is among the best-known images of the Azores, and especially of São Miguel. Two places appear in all the brochures: the hot springs with their bubbling water and burping mud, and the Terra Nostra garden.

Popular as a spa in the 19th century, Furnas attracted patients from as far as England. Sadly the spa building, which dates from the mid 19th century, is being turned into a hotel and threatens to be a gross intrusion. The municipal garden in front was laid out in 1940. The largest, noisiest and perhaps most fearful of the many hot springs or fumaroles is named Pêro Botelho, a 16th-century nickname for the devil. Around the calderas area some 22 different mineral waters emerge from the ground, the best-tasting from fountains, the lesser ones out of simple plumbers’ pipes.

At the edge of the village is a forest services’ immaculately maintained tree nursery and trout farm; visitors welcome. The local large flat soft rolls called bolos levedos are made in Furnas and are delicious, especially in the Café Atlântico when filled with cheese and ham and toasted.

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