LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 68
Page. 62 - 69
By: Rossana Acquasanta
Pictures: Carolina Aldao
SAN ANTONIO DE ARECO
We thought we were going to do the traditional tour, visiting the Güiraldes museum, the Bessonart store, the church, the silversmiths, the cultural centre ...that we would explore all the new restaurants and workshops and even have time to check out some estancias in the region. It didn't exactly turn out that way. We raced through the traditional circuit, the only "nightlife" we did was on Friday when we had dinner at La Lechuza, a great place where Cartucho Lezcano does the cooking and only had a glimpse from the car at the Puesto del Moro.
And we passed through three estancias - El Ombú de Areco, La Bamba and El Rosario de Areco. Of all the artisans in Areco we saw four but all of them outstanding. As for silversmiths, we couldn't fail to visit Gustavo Stagnaro who has dedicated two long decades of his life to moulding this precious metal into magnificent pieces. Then there is Juan José Draghi who has passed down his talent and skills to his offspring. Juan Patricio, now 27, has mastered the art and his younger brother Mariano is currently taking a repoussage course in Florence. Although his daughter was not drawn to this art, she managed to find a husband who is a talented "soguero" having mastered the leather braiding trade and doing it beautifully, also in her father's workshop. But the true master of this art is the famous 76 year old Luis Gabriel Martinez. This man worked 12 years for the National Arts Fund and his works have reached the hands of celebrities of the calibre of King Juan Carlos of Spain.
Nobody can weave like Cristina Giordano. Her designs are so precisely transferred to her workstapestries and ponchos alike. And her gaucho sashes (fajas pampas) are to die for.
We chose the Balcón Colonial, the bed & breakfast owned by Juan and Gillian Aldasoro. Impeccable rooms with private bath, TV and heating. Just what we needed to allow us to do our own thing during the day and return at night to a warm and comfy bed.
We visited the Parque Criollo and the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes, inaugurated in 1938. The "Pulpería La Blanqueada" at the entrance with its typical décor of the period, takes you back to the times and the life of the gaucho. The exhibition room walls are covered with works by Figari and other works related to farm life, but above all reflect the sentiment of the famous author of Don Segundo Sombra, Güiraldes. This unique man who could wear tails or typical gaucho gear with identical natural elegance, was extremely cultured and an exquisite traveller, left this world at the young age of 41. You can see his naked torso in a charcoal etching (1916) by H. Anglada Caramasa. Another work to contemplate and admire is the riding gear by Aniceto Melo made with the hide of Güiraldes' beloved horse El Moro. On the corner of Vieytes and Pellegrini we discovered the "pulpería" (bar) Las Ganas.
It opened a month ago and is decorated with old native bits and pieces rescued by the owners. The counter for instance dates back to 1915. Here you can enjoy a typical "mate", beer or grapa and if you're lucky someone may pick up the guitar and play a tune. It's the real thing! When we dropped in there were two local young boys strumming their guitars and singing away. The nice thing is that it was completely unprepared and spontaneous. Another welcoming place is the Olla de Cobre that for 21 years has been selling the most wonderful chocolate. Their customers feel so comfortable and drawn to the place that they find it hard to tear themselves away, so now the owners have created a cosy corner where one can sit and sip at a hot cup of chocolate or coffee. These are the rare luxuries one can find in the homeland of Don Segundo Sombra, where even the fairways of the Areco Country Club -with special green fee fares for the guests of the estancias-, have a gaucho flair.