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Madeira Main

December 5, 2006
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Madeira08_main_03.jpg

Steep green mountains dropping into valleys terraced with vineyards and dotted with small villages and hiking paths – that’s one face of Madeira. Another is the cosmopolitan capital of Funchal, where Portuguese culture has given rise to a cuisine drawing on the fruits of both land and sea – just right paired with the famed sherrylike Madeira wines.

The island’s sublime subtropical climate – average highs range from the mid-60s to mid-70s year-round – has long made the island a favorite winter getaway for Europeans. Fashionable resort hotels continue a tradition dating back to the days when this was a way station for Britons returning home from India and Africa. And while Funchal’s popularity has come with a price – concrete high-rises dominate the Funchal coast – the countryside remains a scenic wonder of mountain hamlets and seaside villages accented by colorful fishing boats.

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