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[[Image:Canela cascarata.jpg|right|framed|Waterfall in [[Parque do Caracol]] in [[Canela]], part of the Serra Gaúcha]]
The '''Serra Gaúcha''', ''The Gaucho Highlands'', is the mountainous region in the northeastern portion of [[Rio Grande do Sul]] state in southern [[Brazil]]. This mountainous region is home to many Brazilians of [[German-Brazilian|German]] and [[Italian Brazilian|Italian]] descent. Consequently, the cities in the Serra Gaúcha reflect [[German cuisine|German]] and [[Italian cuisine|Italian]] influences through their architecture, gastronomy and culture.
Several tourist routes run through the most picturesque cities of the Serra Gaúcha, particularly the [[Rota Romântica]], following the tracks of German colonization; the Italian-flavored [[Caminhos da Colônia]]; the wine tasting [[Rota da Uva e o Vinho]]; and the [[Região das Hortênsias]], landscaped with beautiful [[hydrangea]]s (''"[[hortênsia]]s" in [[Portuguese language|Portuguese]]'').
The hot springs in [[Nova Prata]] are also one of the regions tourist highlights.
The most important cities among the 75 municipalities of the Serra Gaúcha are [[Caxias do Sul]], [[Bento_Gonçalves,_Rio_Grande_do_Sul|Bento Gonçalves]], [[Farroupilha]], [[Gramado]], [[Canela]], [[Nova Prata]], [[Nova Petrópolis]] and [[Carlos Barbosa]].
The region was settled by [[European ethnic groups|European]] [[immigrants]] during the 19th century. [[German-Brazilian|Germans]] started arriving in 1824 and [[Italian Brazilian|Italians]] in 1875. Germans settled in the lowlands, close to river springs, while Italians populated the highlands. As a result, the region has a unique blend of German and Italian cultures, reflected in the local architecture and cuisine.
[[Image:Novapetrópolis.jpg|thumb|right|220px|Example of [[German-Brazilian|German]] influence in the [[Nova Petrópolis]]'s [[architecture]].]]
Several small towns resemble German villages from centuries ago, but on a backdrop of luscious subtropical rain forest and araucarias. Many Brazilians in the region still speak [[German language|German]], mainly the [[Riograndenser Hunsrückisch]] dialect.
In the towns colonized by Italian immigrants wine production is considered an important component of the local culture and vineyards can be seen everywhere. The city of [[Caxias do Sul]] celebrates the region's wine heritage during the [[Festa da Uva]] festival. Italian culture is still very strong in the community, and it's not rare to hear locals speaking the Northern-Italian [[Talian]] dialect.
==External links== [http://www.serragaucha.com.br/ Serra Gaúcha website]