Perhaps you’ve never heard of Jose Berardo, born José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo. He’s a bit of a hero in Portugal, especially Madeira Island where he was born to a family of modest means and turned his intuition and sense of adventure into a fortune. Along the way, he collected art, minerals, and ethnographic objects, which he’s displayed for everyone to see.
You should read his bio: The Man behind the Collection. He left on his first adventure for South Africa with a boatload of men looking for greener pastures after Salazar closed the brothels in Portugal.
From then on, cleverness, insight, and intuition brought him wealth.
He’s a kind of rich person you can actually like. In fact, I’m going to spoil your biography reading and quote the last sentence:
And this open-ended story began on 4 July 1944 with a man’s desire to go down in history starting from the principle that nothing really belongs to us in this life.
For those of us who push tourism as a means of learning about the world, its people, and the clever solutions for social problems that folks have come up with across the globe, this is the kind of thing we like to hear, especially coming from a place (the US) in which petroleum is (the only) king, because people there have seemed to have lost their cleverness in finding energy solutions like this:
His latest investment is in the energy sector, involving a volcanic power station, a project currently restricted to Nicaragua, but which may extend to the whole of South America. Remaining loyal to non-polluting markets, he has continued to invest in tourism associated with culture as the best way of creating jobs.
But this article is about what the man has built, repaired and collected—and how to see them. You can see Jose Berardo’s collections in a variety of places in Portugal, including the Alianca Underground Museum & Winery in which Mr. Berardo is a majority owner.
“On display is a unique and fascinating collection of art and geological pieces. Featured in the archaeology collection are 1500 year old terra cotta figurines from ancient culture Bura-Asinda-Sika, Niger, in Africa. Also from the African continent is a large collection of ethnographic objects used in rituals and everyday life. On display are masks, statues and weapons, as well as jewelry, cooking utensils and items of prestige.”
Mr. Berardo is also a major force behind the Casa das Mudas – Contemporary Arts Center in Madeira
He also restored the Quinto do Monte Hotel. The adjacent gardens are spectacular, and include the Monte Palace Museum, where you’ll see the African carvings and Brazilian mineral collection as you see in the pictures on this page (click them to see them larger. The hotel has amazing food, an amazing view over the island (from each room), and if you want a romantic and almost tropical paradise for your romantic vision—this could be the place for you.
And you’ll get to know Madeira’s hero Jose Berardo just by taking it all in.