We were trying to decide where to go for Easter weekend when we read about Nova Trento. It had been founded by Italian immigrants and is considered the most Italian city in Brazil. We had already been to the most German city in Brazil so why not visit the most Italian town!
This town is known as the Religious capital of Santa Catarina. Thousands of faithful pilgrims make the trip every year. Religious tourism is the city’s primary source of income. This is in great part due to being the home of Brazil’s first Saint, Madre Paulina. We wanted to learn more about how Brazilians celebrate Easter and we were not disappointed!
The Italian immigrants who settled this area came from the province of Trento in Italy. It only takes a second when driving through this quaint town to see the influence of the Italians who settled here 125 years ago. Nova Trento was voted the most Italian town in all Santa Catarina, Brazil. Italian flags fly alongside Brazilian. There are 30 different churches. There are Italian restaurants, local wineries and delicious colonial products everywhere. All this sits between beautiful lush green mountains. These mountains, valleys and rivers create the amazing landscape called the European Valley.
We arrived in Nova Trento the afternoon of Good Friday. We had just enough time to check into our Pousada-which is like a bed and breakfast. Dale and I took quick showers and then headed to the town square. We attended Nova Trento’s version of the Pasion Play. It was a little different from Pasion Plays I’ve attended before. Instead of sitting and watching, we participated. We gathered in the town square with thousands of other people. Dale and I participated in the procession. We followed men carrying the body of Christ and playing instruments.
We walked throughout the square to 4 different scenes. The scenes varied between typical Pasion scenes and more modern versions of the Pasion Play. It came to a conclusion at the beautiful Matriz Sao Virgilio church in the town center. The priests dressed in red to symbolize the blood of Christ. There was singing and praying by the masses.
After some local meat free Italian food (it was Good Friday after all) we had one of the best nights of sleep I can remember in a long time. We woke up in our Pousada. For breakfast there was a delicious spread of fruit, cakes, cheese, meat, granola, fresh squeezed fruit juice, and my favorite, coffee! Stomachs full, we headed to the Saint Paulina Sanctuary, or Santuario Santa Paulina.
Saint Paulina was born in 1865 and passed in 1942. She was the first Saint of Brazil. She cared for sick children, the elderly and former slaves. She also suffered from diabetes and is known as the patroness of diabetics. On the 2nd Sunday in July of every year, thousands of pilgrims come to Nova Trento to remember her. They place ribbons on the trees around the Sanctuary.
The church itself is beautiful! It sits on a green grassy hill and the architecture is extraordinary. Taking the cable car across the valley gives you a stunning view of the church. There are several beautiful trails to walk and sights to visit. We walked to another church and then through the Museum of the Italian Immigrants. It housed a large collection or agricultural and wine making antiquities. There were also wine tasting booths spread out up and down the street. There were also several gift shops and colonials.
After visiting the Sanctuary we were hungry and thirsty. We drove through some local wineries and made a few stops. We had to stop and sample some wines at Vinhos Girola. I bought a 5 gallon jug of red wine for about 25 reals all because I wanted to take a picture with it. The men working at the wine tasting station were friendly and visited with us. They let us sample so many different wines, that I lost track, and gained a little buzz. As Dale was the responsible party and my driver, I was free to sample many different wines!
Finally, we ate another excellent Italian meal at a quaint restaurant called La Bella Polenta. The restaurant, much like everywhere in Nova Trento was decorated for Easter. There were Easter eggs and Easter bunnies galore. The service was excellent and the food was amazing. This restaurant had character and style! It was the perfect ending to our Easter weekend in Nova Trento. What a great trip and way to learn more about how Brazilians celebrate Easter. Happy Easter Sunday everyone and God bless!