Porto Alegre is a modern city 700 mi/1,125 km southwest of Rio de Janeiro that first became notable around the turn of the 20th century when large groups of European immigrants (primarily Germans and Italians) arrived. Plan two nights in Porto Alegre to see its baroque Italian cathedral, several palacios (mansions), the 80-acre/30-hectare Parque Farroupilha and the Teatro Sao Pedro (the city's oldest theater). If time permits, take a ride on the Guaiba River to see islands and the city from the water.
Day trips north can be made to visit the shoe-manufacturing town of Nova Hamburgo—the drive there passes potato, corn, tobacco, sugarcane and soybean fields. Along the way are the towns of Canela and Gramado, where descendants of German immigrants make baskets and wooden handicrafts.
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