It’s so rare to find that nowadays. But that’s where I will take you: to a place unknown to almost everyone and where even less have set foot. The Corvo Island is a monument to nature and to human history.
Get a map and a magnifying glass: midway in between continental Europe and North America, in the most western point of the Azores archipelago, is Corvo Island. Its name, translated from the Portuguese, means literally the island of the Crow. It’s the smallest of the entire archipelago. You might struggle to find it on the map.
It’s inhabited only at its southern tip, in a single village with 440 habitants. The shape of the island is the one of a volcanic cone, with steep walls, emerging from a deep dark blue ocean, with the exception of a single lava flow, which depleted in the ocean 700 thousand years ago, and where the only village was established.
One island, one village, one port, one main road, one church, one restaurant, one school… It has one of everything, because it only needs one of each. And at the top, lies its crown: a lagoon, born inside the enormously collapsed volcanic cone, cut in half by green hills of perfect convexity in a way that only Nature could have designed. It’s one the most isolated places in Europe, and the World. And one of the most uniquely beautiful.
I was attracted not only to how unique it was but to its completely parallel reality. I was fascinated by the families who lived there, the stories, the legends. What would it be like to live there? How would it be like to grow up there? Were they really that isolated today, with the internet and mobile phones? I was intrigued by the fact that they had the sole company of one of the greatest natural wonders I had ever seen. That they could visit it at any moment.
I had to go there. For the first time in my life I knew I had to go somewhere. The idea of being in a place like Corvo, where I could almost experience a parallel reality, was overwhelming. I did not just want to visit the island. I wanted to go there and try to see everything I could. All the places, all the houses, all the streets, all the people, all the trees.
The village was indescribably Portuguese: stone sidewalk roads in narrow and intertwined streets, white walls, and orange tile roofs. The school is built on the same architecture of the Portuguese public schools of the 1970’s, just like the one where I studied. The church is the center of the village and is immaculately kept. Right in the middle of the Atlantic, there was a portuguese microcosm.