When seen from the bird's eye view of the Eira do Serrado, the Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns) seems like an impossible place to settle – surrounded by steep mountains and accessible by vertiginous roads. But its hidden location is exactly the reason why it was discovered and embraced by generations of settlers, from the 15th-century slaves who escaped their masters to the 16th-century nuns who fled from pirates in Funchal.
The Valley of the Nuns, as it is called today (Curral das Freiras translates loosely to Nuns' Refuge), is a step back in time for those who visit. Here one can find all things chestnut, which grows in abundance; terraced vineyards and cherry orchards on the lower slopes above the valley; and colorful houses that dot the landscape.
Curral das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns) is reachable by the line 81 bus from Funchal along the ER107. From the north, there is a tunnel that cuts through the mountains, ver the vertiginous among us.