The Island in the words of Nemésio

By: Francisco Maduro-Dias, 63, Museologist and Cultural Heritage manager

It is easy to explain why it is worth visiting Terceira Island on the trail of Nemésio, following an itinerary devised by Luiz Fagundes Duarte.

If you want to get to know the Island a little better, understand what it means to be Azorean, admire the landscapes and sights, while learning about what you can see, then there is no better guide than the Portuguese writer who was born right here, in 1901, and who lived until 1978.

Vitorino Nemésio experienced the most important moments of Portuguese and Azorean life during those seventy years or so. He began writing early on, and was the author of some of the most powerful works of Portuguese literature in the 20th century.

However, the reason that it’s an excellent choice to visit the island in Nemésio’s company is not because he’s an important writer and a distinguished figure. It is because from his “Mau tempo no canal” to “Festa Redonda”, “Corsário das Ilhas”, “Paço Milhafre” and “Sapateia Açoreana”, as well as many other works of poetry, prose, essays or journalism, Nemésio drew constant inspiration from the islands of the Azores and especially his native Terceira, universalizing his ideas superbly yet never forgetting his roots.

In order to better understand this experience, there is nothing more fitting than some excerpts from his 1932 text, when he first used the term Açorianidade [Azoreanness], and tried to explain what he felt deep inside and which was so difficult to explain:

“Meio milénio de existência sobre tufos vulcânicos, por baixo de nuvens que são asas e de bicharocos que são nuvens…” [Half a millennium of existence on volcanic tuff, below clouds that are wings and little bugs that are clouds…”]

“Como homens, estamos soldados historicamente ao povo de onde viemos e enraizados pelo habitat a uns montes de lava que soltam da própria entranha uma substância que nos penetra.” [As men, we are historically soldered to the community we come from and firmly rooted by our habitat to mountains of lava which release from their depths a substance which penetrates our being.]

“A geografia, para nós, vale outro tanto como a história, e não é debalde que as nossas recordações escritas inserem uns cinquenta por cento de relatos de sismos e enchentes.” [“For us, geography is just as important as history, and it is not without reason that fifty percent of our written memories comprise records of earthquakes and floods.”]

“Como as sereias temos uma dupla natureza: somos de carne e pedra. Os nossos ossos mergulham no mar.” [“Like mermaids, we have a double nature: we are of flesh and stone. Our bones submerge in the sea.”]

Or these lines, taken from the “Corsário das Ilhas”:

“Sou ilhéu; e, tanto ou mais do que a ilha, o ilhéu define-se por um rodeio de mar por todos os lados. Vivemos de peixe, da hora da maré e a ver navios…” [“ I am an islander; and, just like an island, or even more so, the islander is defined by being surrounded by sea on all sides. We live on fish, on the time of the tides, watching ships go by… “]

I leave you here, at the entrance to the Island and the words of the Writer and Poet. The visit is yours, now.

As a visitor I leave you here, at the door of the island and from the words of the Writer and Poet. The visit is yours now.

Useful Information

Recommended time: 1 to 2 days

Level of difficulty: Easy

Clothing: Most of the itinerary is through the streets of the Island, which are in good condition, but comfortable footwear is always advisable.

Season: The itinerary can be followed at any time of the year, but it is important to pay attention to any timetable changes that may occur and many of the monuments are closed at weekends and on public holidays.

Booking: If you plan in advance, through a travel agent or book a guide directly, some complementary activities can be included in the tour, such as boat trips which recreate the arrival of ships to the town of Angra do Heroísmo, or even go for a swim at the grey sandy beaches of Praia da Vitória.

Downloads: Brochura “Um Corsário na Ilha Terceira”