If you ever wondered which is the correct way to refer to something or someone in Recife, the mayor sets the record straight in the short clip below. As for if he minds if Brazilians from other parts of Brazil still say “…em Recife”, the mayor says that as long as they come to visit, they can say it however the want.
Looking deeper, Sérgio Nogueira, the renowned Brazilian Portuguese professor who also does “Dicas de Português” on G1 has the following to say about a reader’s comment in reference to the same question…
Reader: Is it correct to say ’em Recife’ or ‘no Recife’? I see that Brazilian newspapers write it both ways.
Sérgio: This is our sin: a lack of standardization. We shouldn’t, however, make it just about right or wrong. It’s a fact that in the south of Brazil, we usually omit the article: “nasceu em Recife, vem de Recife, viajou para Recife”.
People from Recife insist on using the article, though. They make use of an old rule (which is not always respected) that says it’s necessary to use an article when the name of the place originates from a geographic accident, like Rio de Janeiro (river of January) or Bahia (bay). In the same way, Recife comes from “reef”, so we should use the article: “nasceu no Recife, vem do Recife, viajou para o Recife”.