During the 1850s, Bananal  was the world’s primary producer of coffee, and the hills surrounding the town are still dotted with grand plantation mansions (although the coffee has given way to eucalyptus). Within close proximity to the town, several of these fazendas (estates) can be visited, although you should reserve by phone in advance.
Built in 1855, Fazenda dos Coqueiros (tel. 12/3116-1358, www.fazendadoscoqueiros.com.br , 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. daily)—named after the swaying coconut palms that lead up to the gracious main house—is 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Bananal along the SP-068. The fazenda has been in the family of the friendly Carioca owners for over a century—that they live amidst the original furnishings conspires to bring history to life. And there is a ton of history: from the original furniture and fixtures (including an antique toilet) to more harrowing effects such as the medieval gadgets used to torture slaves and the dungeon-like senzala where they were herded at night so that their collective body heat would rise to warm their masters.
The region’s most opulent estate is the elegant Fazenda do Resgate (tel. 12/3116-1577, 7–11 a.m. Tues., 7–11 a.m. and noon–4 p.m. Wed.–Fri.), 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Bananal  along the SP-064. Built in 1818, the interior is quite smashing and features splendid murals painted by noted Spanish painter José Maria Villaronga as well as a chapel. The fazenda was the first plantation in São Paulo  to cultivate coffee on a large scale. At its most productive, it employed 400 slaves, and the owner, Manual Aguiar Valim, was among the richest men in Brazil .