As much as we would love to invite you to Lisbon, the invitation does come with one caveat; if you don’t like sardines don’t come in June. Seriously. The Feast of Saint Anthony aka Lisbon’s Sardine Festival runs from 12-14th June and Lisbon goes distinctly sardine crazy. Now personally we can’t think of anything more delightful than freshly grilled sardines on a beautiful summer’s evening – and we’re probably (hopefully) in the majority here – but if it happens to be your idea of hell, you have been warned!
So, why sardines? Legend has it that in the 13th century a young missionary going by the name of Anthony of Padua was fed up with people ignoring his sermons. In despair he wandered down to the shoreline and began to preach to the fish. Remarkably, the fish paid attention; hordes of them stuck their heads out of the water to listen to what he had to say – a miracle that was witnessed by the townspeople. The rest, as they say, is history.
Bairro Alto takes its sardine duties very seriously. On the eve of the festival – the 12th June – the narrow streets around The Lumiares are decked out with banners and streamers and lined with stalls and barbeques. The air fills with the smoky chargrilled smell of sardines which are served simply (but utterly deliciously) in a plain bread bun (Sardinha no Pão) and washed down with sangria or beer. It’s a great street party and highly recommended … if you like sardines of course!