The annual event (whose name translates roughly as Art With Open Doors) is the highlight in a packed cultural calendar for Santa Teresa – the self-declared artistic heart of Santa Teresa.
For 18 years the event – which sees the neighbourhood’s many artists throw open the doors of their homes and studios to the public – has taken place over just one busy weekend. This year, however, Arte de Portas Abertas will take place over the first and second weekends of September, allowing extra time to see the best that the neightourhood has to offer.
With some 77 artists’ studios to peruse, along with delicious foods to sample and wonderfully intoxicating drinks to try, visitors may well be in need of the extra time.
The neighbourhood itself, with its steep cobbled streets, glorious views and wonderful old colonial mansions, is well worth a couple of days’ exploring, and you will also find some of the city’s most appealing restaurants and bars.
Visitors with cash to splash would be wise to make a booking at Aprazivel, where the views alone are worth the not-cheap prices. The Brazilian-French inspired menu is first rate too, while the all-Brazilian wine list has some very pleasant surprises.
Budget visitors, meanwhile, should try and bag a table at Bar do Arnaudo, which serves up mammoth portions of hearty Northeastern dishes. You may well have to queue for a whole outside, but trust me, it’s worth the wait.
Of course, no Rio social event is complete without lashings of live music and a liberal dose of alcohol. Arte de Portas Abertas sees the streets and squares of Santa Teresa fill with musicians playing everything from jazz to samba, while abundant street stalls sell delicious caipirinhas, batidas (deceptively sweet and creamy drinks made with fruit, condensed milk and a lethal dose of sugar cane rum).
Always popular with tourists, Santa Teresa gets absolutely packed during the event, so visitors are advised not to arrive by car. Besides, it’s much more fun to take the bondinho – the antique yellow tram that rattles its way up the hill from Centro.
Arte de Portas Abertas takes place on the weekends of September 4-5 and 11-12, from 11am to 6pm (although if the sun shines, the party is sure to extend well into the night…)