Villa Saudade — a refurbished heritage Portuguese mansion in Arpora, Goa has a rich history behind it.

And 33-year-old architect Rochelle Santimano says the journey designing it was exciting.

As the story goes, the 400-year-old heritage mansion was home to the Pinho family, one of Goa’s oldest Portuguese families.

The descendant, Vasco Pinho, a famed historian and author, was the one to lease it out for revamping in 2020.

The 4,500 sq-ft property had survived many battles that ensued during the Portuguese rule and still bears marks of these.

Rochelle’s motive was simple — to find a way to preserve the past while bringing in modernities.

The traditional red oxide floor was polished and waxed so it would go well with the walls while the verandahs were converted into lounging areas.

Elaborating on the furnishings, Rochelle says natural wood was the popular option, while a lot was preserved from the original house.

“For instance, the bedrooms at Villa Saudade have side tables that were once upon a time trunks and chests filled with books,” she says.

The dining table, armchairs, and study table are all from the original home, as are the balustrade and architraves.

“The windows, with their mother of pearl shell, are unique and have been restored,” points out Rochelle, adding that the lights have been sourced from antique vendors.

But what gives Villa Saudade its quaint touch are the mementoes from the past including the photos lining the walls in the hall and rooms, which are from Pinho’s personal collection.

While at the homestay, guests can explore the many things Arpora has to offer. But the highlight of it all is the Saturday market that bustles with local antiques, wafting aromas of meats, and of course, the sweets of Goa.