In Centro, a former 19th-century orphanage and prison now houses the Centro de Turismo (Rua Aderbal de Figueiredo, Petrópolis 980, tel. 84/3211-6149, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.). Each cell is occupied by a vendor selling regional handicrafts such as lace, pottery, wood carvings, and blue-and-white painted azulejos (ceramic tiles), a tradition handed down from the Portuguese. There is a tourist office here as well as a dance hall where, every Thursday night, live forró attracts both gringos and locals.
In Ponta Negra, you’ll find a wide array of handicrafts at the Shopping do Artesanato Potiguar (Av. Engenheiro Roberto Freire 8000, Ponta Negra, tel. 84/3215-9781, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 3–9 p.m. Sun.). For more contemporary items, head to the mall at Praia Shopping (Av. Engenheiro Roberto Freire 8790, Ponta Negra, www.praiashopping.com.br, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 3–9 p.m. Sun.).
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition