“The investment in tourism is growing more every year,” Santos continues. “The government helps, and private factories and businesses, they know now how nice it can be with tourism. So now, we are improving and making more professionals in the area for the hotels, for guides, for the restaurants.” Santos says that the main trade in the region is mining. Steel and iron manufacturing also have a heavy presence. International companies have a foothold in Belo as well, as evidenced by the local Fiat car factory.

But modern business concerns are not the only things that should, or do, motivate people to visit this ever-growing city. The area has a rich and long history behind it. “In Brazil, when we study at school, we study about the strong economy of the eighteenth century,” Santos explains. “This area was the most important economy for Portugal and Brazil in the eighteenth century. It was the gold and diamond area. Every Brazilian knows because it is in the students’ books.”

Tourists looking for a unique vacation experience should check out Belo’s numerous restaurants and recreational opportunities, including the city’s museums, churches that preserve the area’s deep religious history, and parks.

For a memorable, intimate, and very local dining experience, the place to go to is Restaurante Xapuri. Run by 71-year-old Nelsa Trombino, who’s been at the helm of the restaurant for all of its 22 years, this open-air establishment is set amid its own minivillage and features not only plenty of dining space at numerous picnic tables but also a gift shop that sells local merchandise. The food, which is prepared on open flames, includes pork, beans, rice, vegetables, and a tantalizing and colorful spread of local desserts that will leave you full and feeling that your sweet tooth has received more than enough attention.