‘Aunt’ Lucilia, at 97 years old, was the last descendant of those who lived in Casal de São Simão at a time when the people of the community lived off the land. She witnessed the departure of those who were seeking a better life and the decline of the village. Stubbornly, she decided to stay even though she was a widow and alone. We newcomers grew to understand that she had always been a fighter and a strong woman and that nothing had changed even in old age. She lived to see the reconstruction of the village and the coming of a new generation of residents. She always received everyone with open arms, a warm smile and good humour. Although she was taken to hospital in October it seems to us that she is still standing on the balcony of her home, there smiling and ready to open her door and offer a slice of yogurt cake to each of us, a speciality of hers which she made every week to take advantage of the eggs of her chickens.
She will be forever in the memories of those who met her and especially in the hearts of those who have grown to love Casal de São Simão as she did. She left us on the fourth of December, 2011 – a funeral service was held on the next day.
Actually, Casal de S. Simão has 4 full time residents:
- a former French emigrant couple, now retired, owner of a flock of goats that still produces home made cheese;
- and a couple who finally managed to start an old project of changing the urban life of Leiria for the way of living at Casal
At weekends and holidays the village becomes a place full of life, with children’s laugh echoing on the streets again and a fistful of friends cherishing the ancient tradition of sharing the work that allowed to revive this village once more.
There are already 16 houses recovered and about 40 persons directly connected to them. People are from every corner of the country and from any professional activity, gathered by the passion of, once in a while, enjoy a few days in Casal de São Simão.