The quickest, easiest, and most interesting day trip you can take from São Paulo is to the small colonial town of Embu, 27 kilometers (17 miles) west of the city. Founded in 1554, many of its historic whitewashed houses and churches have been preserved.
Make sure to visit the Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Largo dos Jesuítas 67, tel. 11/4704-2654, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$2), an impressive late-17th-century baroque church. Inside the adjacent monastery, the Museu de Arte Sacra dos Jesuítas houses a collection of sacred art that includes intricately carved saints and an 18th-century organ made by local Indians.
Embu is famous (perhaps overly so) for its many artisans’ studios—specializing in wood and stone carving, leather work, furniture-making, and decorative arts—as well as its numerous antiques stores. On weekends, the small town hosts an antiques fair and handicraft market that lures day-trippers and bargain-hunters from the city (to avoid the crowds, arrive early). You could easily spend all day browsing. Note that in terms of antiques, many are not originals, but replicas.
Malyla’s Artes e Antiguidades (Rua Nossa Senhora de Rosário 116, tel. 11/4704-3984) specializes in original certified antiques from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, while Em Jericó (Rua Nossa Senhora do Rosário 112, tel. 11/4241-9384) has a stock of over 2,000 original antiques.
Empório King (Rua Joaquim Santana 41, tel. 11/4704-3469) sells works crafted out of wood, ceramic, and iron from Minas Gerais and the Northeast.
At Guarani Artesanatos (Largo dos Jesuitas 153, tel. 11/4704-3200), you’ll find sculptures fashioned out of precious pau brasil (brazilwood) and carvings made from soapstone and semiprecious stones. All stores are open daily, usually 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Hidden away in a charming little alley off Rua Siqueira Campos, Empório São Pedro (Viela das Lavadeiras 28, tel. 11/4781-2797, noon–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun., 8 p.m.–1 a.m. Fri.–Sat., R$30–40) occupies an antiques store, where you can browse while feasting on dishes such as asparagus tortellini and roast lamb with sun-dried tomato risotto.
Getting to Embu
Getting to Embu from São Paulo is easy. Embu Cultural executivo buses leave at 30-minute intervals from outside Rodoviária Tietê (on Av. Cruzeiro do Sul). You can also catch a municipal bus from Anhangabaú or Campo Limpo Metrô station. The travel time is 30 minutes and the bus fare is R$3.20.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition