The light cloud ringing its upper extent serves to heighten its air of mystery. Joined by the islands of S. Jorge and Faial, it lies in the centre of the Azorean archipelago.
You have to set foot on the island to truly discover its beauty, the mountain views and towns with their houses stretching down to the sea front. There are the stories of whales and whalers and all the faith of a people that grew vines and orchards on hard basalt.
It took five hundred years of human effort to transform rock into volcanic and fertile soil, creating a unique landscape and wine culture, granted due recognition by UNESCO with its designation as World Heritage.
Experience the design of this gigantic stone labyrinth bordering the sea.
Each small square division protects vines from the wind so that, warmed by the sun, they can concentrate all their sweetness into bunches of grapes. So many are the walls that if strung out in a line they would circumnavigate the earth. This epic project resulted in the Verdelho wine, perfected down the centuries by the tender care of Franciscan and Carmelite monks.
After a walk, it is time to taste. Dry or sweet, this heartening wine has graced tables as far afield as the Tsars of Russia. Yet it tastes far better in a picturesque Pico tavern.
And, down by the sea, pay a visit to the former "Verdelho" estate. In the shade of exotic trees, they offer a chance to learn something more about these impressive cultural traditions.