Lisbon Insider: The Feast of St. Anthony

The streets of Lisbon are decorated with garlands to celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony.

All of Lisbon is gearing up for the June 13th feast day celebration of St. Anthony, the city’s patron saint. Because it’s a municipal holiday, the garland festooned streets are packed with people watching parades and listening to Fado until the early morning hours. Each neighborhood organizes its own parade–which makes the entire affair feel like a much less racy version of Rio’s Mardi Gras.

A shrine to St. Anthony enlivens a window in Lisbon's historic Alfama neighborhood.

In addition to being the city’s patron saint, St. Anthony is also the saint of marriage and matchmaking and many couples choose to get married on this day.  He is also known as a miracle worker who was able to speak to fishes. Because of this claim to fame, Lisbon celebrates St. Anthony’s feast day with delicious grilled sardines.

Patricia Grunebaum, who writes the copy for our catalogs, website, and emails, enjoys a meal of grilled sardines.

You can get sardines at many restaurants throughout the city–plates of uncooked fish are often displayed in refrigerated cases. My family prefers the restaurants and street vendors in the Alfama neighorhood, especially Pateo 13. They are traditionally eaten with grilled potatoes, a green bell pepper salad, and a glass of crisp white wine. Any Vinho Verde or Alvarinho varietal will do.

Grilled sardines are eaten through most of the summer in Portugal. But if you are visiting at another time of year and want to try the very best canned sardines you’ll ever taste, head to Conserveira de Lisboa in the Baixa neighborhood. Like most of Lisbon’s artisanal shops, it looks almost exactly as it did when it opened in 1930, with mosaic stone floors and a wooden cash register.

Travel Tip: If you’re visiting Lisbon during the summer, the tiled sidewalks can be very slippery, not to mention tough to navigate in heels. Instead, slip on a pair of our Leather Tassel Moccasins, which are available up to size 38 and are both stylish and extremely comfortable.

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