Most of our holiday planning was done using the Internet. As such, we placed quite a bit of faith in the systems and people that we were interacting with in making our reservations as we had no real way of vetting anything before our arrival.
After some late negotiations over which villa to rent we finally settled on the A Casa do Lagar (Big House) on Madeira Island. The villa is situated some 40 minutes outside of the main centre of Funchal and has a lovely rural feel to it. The villa itself was in a very well kept condition and is located on top of a ridge with a beautiful view of the ocean below. Being avid wine-lovers, the villa had an additional benefit of being surrounded by vineyards.
We picked the brains of the owner, Teofilo (the local chemist too!) who gave us a great many off the beaten path sight-seeing and restaurant tips. We adventured up and down the northern coastline of Madeira and went into Funchal on several occasions. The trip on the freeway into Funchal is painless, but the drive on the old roads is simply stunning. Madeira rises up out of the ocean and parts of the route have you peering over the edge of a near cliff to the sea below. As such we spent a great deal of our time on these old roads, adventuring around and consistently being overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.
Worth a special mention was the restaurant some 5 minute away in Sao Jorge called Restaurant Casa de Palha (Straw House) which has some amazing food, the walk to the top of Pico Ruivo which is nearby and easy to get to, and the ride on the the wicked Toboggan in Funchal that was very touristy, but fantastic fun!
Unfortunately we simply did not have the time to get to all of the items on our list this for no lack of trying. At least on the positive side it gives us great reason to return, and we do we will surely choose this villa as our home base.
We stayed in the villa out of season and found it to be excellent value, the setting was perfect and exceeded any expectations that we had. The photos on the internet tried to do it justice, but is was so much better once we had arrived. The internet description was accurate and I have already recommended to my friends that should they ever plan a holiday to Madeira that they choose the A Casa do Lagar as their home base for their trip.
We heartly thank Gregorio and Teofilo for use of their lovely villa and their advice on where to go & what to do.
As an aside, the villa has a little protector in the form of a pretty little cat who is very sweet and loves attention (and any scraps!).