Argentine Artists: Florencio Molina Campos

(Photo by PuLPo RoCK)

Florencio Molina Campos was one of the most well known Argentine artists in the country, and, with his steady theme of gauchos and pampas, created an emblematic local image.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1891, the renowned porteño illustrator and painter traveled often to his family’s campos during a time when the country was acquiring its identity around the agricultural industry and lifestyle. Molina Campos depicted this in his caricaturesque gauchos and portraits of the local campo life. His first exhibition was at the agricultural society, which president Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear attended leading him to name Molina Campos the new art teacher of the Avellaneda National School.  After that, Molina Campos held exhibits both locally and abroad and is remembered for the illustrations he made for a famous alpargatas brand calendar. He also worked for Disney on small films and on the scenery of Bambi, which was based on the Argentine Patagonia landscapes.

More information about his life, works, exhibits and authorized editions of published works here.

Leather Goods in Argentina

(Photo by Eduardo Amorim)

In the country of asados it is only natural that there be a booming leather industry too.  We always get asked by visitors where the best places to buy are, so here is an overview!

Clothes and Shoes

There are many stores that specialize in leather jackets, belts, purses, shoes and more. The best known are Casa Lopez, that offers top-quality goods with tasteful classic designs, Lopez Taibo that specializes in shoes, Silvia Eisele for custom made leather designs, and Murillo 666 for leather jackets. Prune is also popular amongst women and offers a variety of clothing items, shoes, and bags.  Find some more suggestions here.

Equestrian Accessories

Argentina is also renowned for its equestrian sports, especially polo, and is one of the world’s most important producers of leather accessories for riding such as stirrups, riding mounts, boots and more. The place to go for these items are “talabarterias”, where some also sell other leather items including clothing, wallets and more with a more local Pampas style design. Some of the best known are La Martina, Arandu and Jorge Canaves who specializes in saddles.

Rugs and Accessories for the Home

Another area in which leather and cowhides are very popular is in interior design. Lifestyle by Cara offers all kinds of leather designs for the home and, has an online store that ships everywhere.  Cowhide Argentina also ships abroad and as the name implies specializes in cowhides and leather patchwork rugs. Eugenio Aguirre offers gorgeous designer furniture in which he mixes leather with wood.

The Feria de Mataderos and San Antonio de Areco are also great places to get typical leather goods.

Off the Beaten Path: Rural Towns in the Buenos Aires Province

(Photo by Facundo Prámparo)

Argentina is a vast country with many very different places to visit. Traveling to Buenos Aires usually means staying in Capital Federal, undoubtedly, the city has a unique magnetic pull; it is after all the country’s stunning capital. However, the province of Buenos Aires has charming towns that are well worth visiting to get the feel of the rural aspect of Argentine living. Many of these places are close to the city so they make great quick getaways. Below are some of our picks:

San Antonio de Areco:  This gaucho town, just 113 Km’s away North West from the city centre, is the perfect place to find typical customs, native silverwork and to enjoy nature. Some of the recommended places to visit include the Museo Gauchesco y Parque Criollo Ricardo Guiraldes, the Museo Taller Draghi, and La Olla de Cobre for fantastic homemade chocolate and alfajores. Getting there takes two hours approximately by bus to Retiro.

Where to stay: There are various estancias, inns and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. Some of the more known options are Estancia La Porteña de Areco, and El Ombu de Areco.

San Pedro: A little further up North, on the banks of the Paraná river is this small town that was founded in 1907, surrounding a Franciscan convent. Now a day it is a one of the most important fruit ports in the country. Places to visit include La Campiña, a fragrant orange farm open to the public, the Plazoleta Fray Cayetano, and the Fernando Garcia Curten art museum. It is also a great place for fishing and other aquatic activities.

Where to stay: Hotel San Pedro Palace, the oldest hotel in the town which dates back to 1898 and is spick and span due to recent renovations.

Lobos: This small town just 100km to the south west of Capital Federal is famous for its estancias, lake and outdoor life. It is also a historical town where both gaucho and indigenous culture clashed and where General Peron was born. Attractions include the Laguna de Lobos, the Peron museum, a museum of natural sciences and various estancias.

Where to stay: Estancia la Candelaria-A top-notch estancia offering everything from gaucho shows to parachuting and massages in a gorgeous French style chateau surrounded by fragrant nature.

Tandil: Further down south, the town of Tandil sits on the edge of the Sierras de Tandil providing a rugged terrain, perfect for rock climbing and trekking. It is also an important historical landmark as it was a big military fort where important battles were fought. The biggest attractions are natural landmarks such as the Cerro Centinela, Monte Calvario and Piedra Movediza amongst others. Tandil is also a special place for cured meats and cheeses.

Where to stay: Posada de los Pajaros is set in the middle of the sierras providing for a tranquil atmosphere surrounded by nature. Otherwise stay at the Altos Avenida in the town center.

Neighborhood Markets and Fairs in Buenos Aires

(Photo by jvc)

Neighborhood markets are charming places to find local characters and unique flavors and knickknacks. Below is a list of markets in BA where you will come across traditional foods, trinkets, craftwork, bargain prices and freaky finds.

Belgrano

Feria Modelo de Belgrano: Foodies will enjoy this indoor European style fair which was started in the 50´s in a well preserved 1800´s building and is now the place to go for gourmet products such as Patagonian trout, mushrooms, cheeses, and unique meat cuts like quail or armadillo. Open Mon-Fri from 8am-1pm and 5pm-8.30pm, and Sat from 8am-1pm. Ciudad de la Paz and Juramento.

Barrio Chino: Also in Belgrano is the local china town, a popular place amongst locals and foreigners who seek oriental specialties, and unique colors and flavors.  Juramento and Arribeños.

Palermo

Mercado de Pulgas in Palermo: The Dorrego Flea Market in Palermo is often overlooked and is the perfect place to go on a treasure hunt.  Antiques and curious finds are waiting to be dug up and claimed in this charming neighborhood market. Open Tue-Sun 10am-7pm.  Av.Dorrego and Conde.

Recoleta

Feria de Artesanos Plaza Francia: If you´re looking for hand woven textiles, wood carvings, artisanal leather goods and other local craftwork the Artisans fair in Plaza Francia, right next to the Recoleta cemetery, is the place to go. Open on weekends and holidays from 11am-8pm. Av. Libertador and Pueyrredon.

San Telmo

Feria de Antiguedades de San Telmo: San Telmo is a world known antique center where valuable collectors items are sold, but also, where knick-knacks and unique objects from the immigrants that populated the country can be found.  Although the neighborhood is full of antique stores that can be visited during the week, it’s the fair on Sundays that gathers visitors and locals alike.  Defensa and Humberto 1.

Caballito

Mercado del Progreso: This food market in the Caballito neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city having opened in 1889. Colorful vegetable stands and butchers that sell meat fresh from the farms are what the market is known for. The market is also around the corner of the antique tram, which you can visit on the weekends.   Market open on Mon-Sat from 7.30am-1pm, and 5pm-8.30pm. Av. Rivadavia 5430.

Mataderos

Feria de Mataderos: The Mataderos fair is held every Sunday and offers regional foods, gaucho accessories, knitwear, and leather bags amongst others. Gaucho traditions, such as the “carrera de sortija” and typical dances from around the country are also carried out on a stage. The fair is on Lisandro de la Torre Avenue, in Mataderos on Sunday. To get there, we suggest you coordinate transport with the hotel, as you will have to go through some dodgy areas to arrive.

More:

For organic produce, eco products and a laid back atmosphere head to El Galpón de Chacarita. Wednesday and Saturday 9am to 6pm. Av. Fédérico Lacroze 4171, Chacarita. 4554 9330.

Cheap bargains, unusual finds (including odd shaped mannequins) and noisy crowds at the Once shopping district.

Argentine Gifts

Christmas is all about giving, and traveling is a great opportunity to buy original gifts, be it for the festive season or for the sake of generosity. Below is our selection of top Argentine tokens to give away or take home as a souvenir.

Mate: Mate is a traditional bitter tea like beverage, which was originally taken by the Guarani Indian as a ritual. The yerba (dry mate leaves) is poured into a special gourd and then a metal straw is inserted. Hot water (but not boiling) is poured into the gourd and the beverage is sipped from the straw. The mate is then refilled with hot water and passed on to the next person, be it a friend or family member. This makes mate drinking a special community tradition and the preparation has many associated rituals to it. Additionally the beverage is full of antioxidants. Mate gourds, metal straws and other accessories can be readily found all around the city, and the perfect compliment to this gift is The Mate book.

(Photo by tditz_gb)

Facón: The facón is an elaborate gaucho fighting and utility knife that is carried in a leather sheath on a belt. Many are delicately carved with intricate silver designs and make beautiful decorations and gifts. To aquire silver facones head to Marcelo Toledo and Juan Carlos Pallarols in San Telmo, where other amazing silver objects can also be found.

(Photo by Eduardo Amorim)

Dulce de Leche and Alfajores: These are probably some of the most popular souvenirs people take back home after traveling to Argentina and there´s good reason for it. The famous caramel spread, and the sweet, cake like sandwiches with dulce de leche fillings are easy pleasers.

(Photo by bradlauster)

Wine: Argentina is famous for its top quality wine at friendly prices. Wine bars, and gourmet restaurants (including Fierro´s HG Restaurant) offer harder to find gems, and are well worth browsing.

(Photo by vmiramontes)

Tango Music:  A tango record is a great gift for music lovers and romantic spirits.  Other tango paraphernalia such as dancing shoes can also make a good present. To shop for tango music head to Zivals on Corrientes Avenue and in Palermo, or  buy  directly from their online tango store.

(Photo by totordenamur)

A San Telmo Antique: San Telmo is a world known antique center where valuable collectors items are sold, but also, where knick-knacks and unique objects from the immigrants that populated the country can be found.  Another place to look for antiques and unique finds is the Dorrego Flea Market in Palermo.

(Photo by lauromaia)

Buenos Aires Urban Art: Anyone who has been on the graffitimundo, or Juanele AR tours has had the chance to see that the local urban art is booming. Once a year, during the Christmas season, Palermo art gallery Hollywood in Cambodia  hosts a special sale of some of the best local stencils, graffitis, and illustrations by some of the most active Urban artists of the Buenos Aires scene.

(Photo by jimsnapper)

Argentine Silver

(Photo by Eduardo Amorim)

“Argentina” derives from the Latin word “Argentum” which means silver.

The Pampa Indians already adorned their wives with silver bracelets way before the Spanish conquered America, who incorporated this ornamental precious metal into the construction of their churches and altars. With the colonization, the use of silver spread and was introduced into every day objects such as mates, silverware, gaucho knives and horse accessories becoming a definitive part of the national identity.

Now a days many talented local silversmiths carry on with this traditional craftsmanship.San Antonio de Areco, a town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, has an important silverware production and a museum.  In Buenos Aires some of the most  renowned silversmiths are Marcelo Toledo , and Juan Carlos Pallarols , both in San Telmo.

 

We Recommend: San Antonio de Areco

(Photo by Eduardo Amorim)

To the North of Buenos Aires province, just 113 Km’s away from the city, lies a little town abuzz with visitors looking for a bit of history and a taste of gaucho life. The homeland of Segundo Ramirez, a local gaucho who poet and novelist Ricardo Güiraldes was inspired by when writing Don Segundo Sombra, one of the pillars of Argentine literature, is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the typical countryside  gaucho life, to find native silverwork and traditional crafts, and explore historic landmarks.

 

Our suggestions:

Check out historic Gaucho artifacts and learn more about this Argentine archetype at the beautiful Museo Gauchesco y Parque Criollo Ricardo Güiraldes which is structured like an eighteenth century hacienda.

The Pampa Indigenas were already adorning their wives with silver bracelets way before the Spanish colonized the area so it should come as no surprise that one of the local specialties should be silverwork.  The Centro Cultural and Museo Taller Draghi showcases some of the finest examples of the elaborate designs of renowned silversmith Juan José Draghi.

Visit the historic bridge (Puente Viejo) and the San Antonio de Padua church, two of the first constructions of the town.

Take a canoe down the river, ride a horse through the open fields or go sports fishing to enjoy the natural environment San Antonio de Areco has to offer. Contact services here.

Stop for a sweet treat at La Olla de Cobre, where Carlos and Teresita make their own chocolate starting from the processing of the cacao bean to the delicious end product. Don’t miss their fantastic alfajores!

 

How to get there?

Two options are available to get to San Antonio de Areco, one is by car, the other by bus.

By car take Ruta 8.

By bus: Head to the Retiro Bus Terminal where  bus companies are grouped together by region. Chevalier  has a bus to Areco that takes about two hours.  During the summer season it is advised to buy tickets ahead of time.

 

Where to stay?

There are various estancias, inns  and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. Some of the more known options are  Estancia La Porteña de Areco, El Ombu de Areco, and Paradores Draghi.

 

Tips:

Go on a weekday to avoid crowds and if you’re traveling in November don’t miss Tradition Week where festivities and local customs are celebrated all month.