Providence-based Writer/Photographer Christine Chitnis on “Patterns of Portugal” Book

The author shares about her latest effort plus ways to experience Portuguese culture in Southern New England


While writing my book, Patterns of Portugal, I embarked on a three-year journey, traversing the diverse landscapes of Portugal to research the ways in which color and pattern intricately weave into the country’s culture, history, architecture, and traditions. As a photographer, I was drawn to the unique palette and intrigued by how the same hues seem to echo throughout the country. The blue-and-white azulejos (tiles) are reflected in the sunbaked beaches and enchanting blue water of the Atlantic coast. The fuchsia and gold of bougainvillea in bloom are mirrored, though timeworn and softened, in the colorfully painted facades of pastel homes. It is my hope that every image in the book will invite readers to delve deeper into Portugal’s spirit and beauty.


Quintessential Destinations

My recommendation is to venture into the Alentejo region. Here, the essence of Portugal’s allure unfolds seamlessly, blending history with warm hospitality. The landscape shimmers with golden light that dances off olive groves and gnarled, ancient cork trees. The region, though arid, is fertile, renowned for its wine, olive oil, cork, wheat, and heritage livestock breeds, and Roman and Moorish ruins lie scattered throughout the bucolic countryside. Exploring the Alentejo is a journey through time and craftsmanship. It is easy to drive from one picturesque town to another, discovering hidden gems like tiny olarias (pottery studios), centuries-old textile mills, and enchanting villages steeped in the legacy of traditional Portuguese crafts. Évora stands as a
testament to history, housing treasures like the Chapel of the Bones, Évora Cathedral, and remnants of ancient Roman and Moorish civilizations. Nearby, the town of Arraiolos unfolds its rich tapestry of hand-embroidered rugs dating back to the 16th century, while Monsaraz enchants with its medieval hilltop allure. Corval emerges as a vibrant pottery hub, embodying the artistry and heritage of Portuguese ceramics.


Shoulder Season

The warm reception from the people I met shaped my travels. Hospitality seems steeped into the very core of what it means to be Portuguese, adding an extra layer of warmth to every experience. If you are planning your visit, be aware of the high travel times. Late May through early September tend to be the high season in terms of tourism and prices reflect the demand. I love going in the shoulder seasons: late April, early May, and end of September through October. The weather is still beautiful, Mediterranean feeling, and especially in the Alentejo region, you’ll feel as though you have the place to yourself.


tastes of portugal

If a trip to Portugal isn’t feasible, you can still immerse yourself in the Portuguese spirit closer to home. Aguardente in Providence is a favorite of our family. Known for its creative Portuguese fusion flavors, the patio on a warm summer evening feels like a little slice of Lisbon. Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River, MA offers a treasure trove of ingredients and specialties, and they have been the most generous supporters of my book. Their wine selection alone is worth the drive, and you can find my absolute favorite cheery striped ceramic line there, Casa Cubista. O Dinis in East Providence ensures a taste of tradition in every bite. If you can find a seat on a Monday night, you are in for a real treat. Their Music Mondays feature mainly traditional Portuguese singers and musicians who play a variety of “musica popular” and Fado music.


Follow along @christine.chitnis or visit



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here