(Photo by Raverken)
One of the city’s most famous love stories (which may or may not be true) tells of a rivalry born out of an unapproved romance. Back in the 1930’s one of the Kavanagh girls fell in love with an aristocratic young man of the powerful Anchorena family. Since the Kavanagh were rich but not aristocrats, the Anchorena family rejected the girl.
In revenge, Corina Kavanagh, who is rumored to have been the girl’s mother, commissioned the famous art deco building in the Retiro neighborhood. The skyscraper was strategically built to block the view of the stunning Santisimo Sacramento church which had been built by the very ctaholic Anchorena family. Since then, the only way to get a look at it is from the private road on the side of the Kavanagh building.
Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear is an important political figure in Argentine history. Born into a powerful aristocratic family he later became president of Argentina in 1922. One of the things he is remembered for is his love story with Regina Pacini, a talented Portuguese opera singer.
The story says he fell in love with her the first time he saw her sing in 1889, so he sent her red and white roses and a gold and diamond bracelet. Apparently used to male flattery, Regina returned the bracelet and left for Europe. The young Alvear, however, was not to be so easily dissuaded. He took off for Europe as well, where he followed her everywhere she sang and filled her dressing rooms with red and white roses. In 1903, after years of running after her, he finally proposed and she accepted on the condition that he would allow her to sing for four more years before settling down. Finally, on the 29th of April of 1907, they got married in secret at 7am in Portugal. The crowd, which was expecting them at 9, was surprised to find a Police man and maid getting wed instead! Their marriage lasted until Alvear died in 1942. Despite being rudely shunned by the Argentine aristocracy, Elisa remained loyal to her beloved husband throughout their lives. She visited him regularly when he was imprisoned in Isla Martin Garcia, defying the weather to bring him clothes and food, and visited his tomb with a bouquet of red and white roses on the 23rd of every month until her dying day in 1965.
The Recoleta Cemetery is full of love stories, tragedies and romantic legends. Amongst them is the story of Liliana Crociati who died on her honeymoon in Innsbruck. On the same day, Sabu, her dog, also died. Her vault, decorated with photographs and other belongings, is guarded by a sculpture of her in her wedding dress and her dog close by. The groom was never located, but it is rumored that a mysterious man comes around her grave ocasionally to leave her flowers.
Also buried in the cemetery is Elisa Brown. The young woman awaited the return of her fiancée Frances Drummond who fought against Brazil under the command of Admiral Brown (Elisa’s father) but he never made it home. On his death bed, the young commander handed a watch for the admiral to give to Elisa. The young woman, devastated by the tragic news, is said to have drowned herself in the Rio de la Plata in her wedding dress to be reunited with the soul of her lover.