I discovered this place on my birthday, when I had much of the day free to do whatever I wanted with it. I had recently decided that I wanted to be as proactive as I could about living in Rio–going to see places I’d never been, and exploring places on my own. So that afternoon I decided I would go check out Parque Lage, a beautiful park that sits at the foot of Corcovado, the mountain on top of which the Cristo Redentor statue stands vigil.
On the outskirts of Tijuca Forest, the park is part of a subtropical urban forest that covers large sections of Rio with a blanket of rich, green plantlife. In the park you’ll find stands of towering palms, serene pools, waterfalls, and even trails that lead up to Corcovado. The thing that makes Parque Lage so special, though, is the almost-too-gorgeous-to-be-real Italian villa, which also houses an art school. You take one step into the columned courtyard and feel transported from Rio to some quiet piazza in Italy. From around the glassy green pool, you can watch artists work on their canvases, grab a seat and indulge in some amazing baked goods from the cafe inside, or just admire the perfect vista of Cristo above. The cafe also serves a great traditional Brazilian breakfast, with fresh breads, cheese, fruits, juice, and coffee.
The park itself is a perfectly romantic spot to take a stroll in good company, or a peaceful place to be one with yourself. Or, to enjoy with friends: recently my group of friends had a lovely picnic in the park on Sunday afternoon. The park is free, and no one minds if you bring your own food, drink, alcohol, or blankets–so it’s only logical to take advantage of such a beautiful urban oasis.
Here are some of the photos I took that first day at the park (which was a rather overcast, greyish day). And you will notice, of course, I treated myself to a slice of chocolate cake heaven. Because hey, it was my birthday. (This cake is divine–the perfect marriage of ganache and cake, but neither one or the other really.(May I suggest that if you ever make it to Parque Lage, be sure to have a piece.)