This is on the tourist itinerary for everyone that visits Funchal, and is probably the place to avoid is a large cruise liner has arrived for the day.
In the old town, Rua Santa Maria is a narrow cobbled street which had seen better days but is being tarted up as a tourist attraction. Doorways have been painted as part of a public art exhibition. Each one is different. Some can be quite humorous but the overall impression is one of amateurism rather than professional artists.
The street is also lined with cafes with tables spilling into the street. All are jostling for attention and exhorting tourists to stop and eat.
I found it busy and didn’t like the constant hassle from the cafes. You need to walk to the far end by Igresia do Sorocco to escape the crowds and see the street at its best. Rua Dom Carlos I, the street running parallel to it nearer the sea is much more attractive and less busy…