Named after the concave-shaped Bay of All Saints, the Recôncavo refers to the former sugarcane region surrounding Salvador. Once the major purveyor of Bahia’s great wealth, the colonial cities of Santo Amaro and, particularly, Cachoeira were prosperous regional capitals whose prominence is reflected in the impressive array of baroque churches and gracious mansions that line their sleepy cobblestoned streets and squares.
Today, this lush, hilly region is given over to the cultivation of paper (hence the bamboo plantations) as well as fruit and spices such as cloves and peppers. The towns—despite a certain air of dilapidation—retain a distinctive charm.
The Recôncavo is also known for its rich cultural traditions, linked to the African heritage of the largely black population descended from the slaves who worked the sugar plantations. Since both towns are within a two-hour drive from Salvador, they can be easily visited in a day trip. However, if you want to soak up the history and distinctive flavor of the Recôncavo, consider staying overnight in Cachoeira.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition