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The Rota Romântica (Romantic Route) is a scenic tourist route that runs through 13 municipalities located in the mountainous Serra Gaúcha region of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The area was first colonized by German immigrants in the first half of the 19th century. The strong German influence can still be seen in each of these beautiful towns and villages - this truly sets the tour route apart from others in Brazil. The Germanic roots are visible in the architecture, gastronomy and occasionally in the accent and language (Riograndenser Hunsrückisch) of the people - and, of course, in their Northern European appearance.
The Rota Romântica is approximately 184 km (about 114 miles) in distance and extends from São Leopoldo to São Francisco de Paula. The 13 municipalities along the route are: São Leopoldo, Novo Hamburgo, Estância Velha, Ivoti, Dois Irmãos, Morro Reuter, Santa Maria do Herval, Presidente Lucena, Picada Café, Nova Petrópolis, Gramado, Canela, and São Francisco de Paula.
The cities of Nova Petrópolis, Gramado, Canela, and São Francisco de Paula are also included in the Região das Hortênsias, one of Brazil's tourist hot spots and very popular throughout the country in the winter and holiday seasons, for its breathtaking scenery, rich European cultural heritage and picturesque architecture.
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