San Antonio de Areco

(continuer en français) – Last updated: June 12, 2022

San Antonio de Areco is located 70 miles, 110 kilometres, northwest of Buenos Aires. This small, ancient and prosperous town of 23,000 inhabitants is renowned for having preserved its ancestral rural traditions, especially those of the Gauchos, the cowboys of the Pampa plains. Every year in November the Festival of Tradition is held here. The rest of the time, life flows peacefully.

Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927) also helped to associate San Antonio de Areco with the legends of the gauchos. In his novel Don Segundo Sombra, published in 1926, he was inspired by the life of Segundo Ramírez, a gaucho from San Antonio, whom the author placed at the centre of the story, combining what he had learned in the countryside around the family estancia of La Porteña. It has become a classic of Argentine Creole literature.

Coming from a wealthy and cultured Argentinean family, his father was mayor of Buenos Aires, his nephew ran the national airline, Ricardo Güiraldes spent his first years in Paris, to the point where French was his first language. Frequenting literary circles, he returned several times to France, where he died in 1927. Since then La Porteña has become a Gaucho museum and Segundo Ramírez also has its own museum in town.

The central square, with its pleasantly designed boxwood borders, also offers beautiful shady alleys. Here it is possible to observe the custom of walking with friends at the end of the day under the plane trees. In the centre, a platform facilitates local events.

Around the square, several cafés contribute to the relaxed atmosphere of the city centre.

The current version of the parish church of St. Anthony of Padua dates back to the end of the 19th century, following several earlier churches.

Also around the main square, there are other buildings for the municipal authorities.

From the central square, the city is organised according to a strict plan of straight streets crossing at right angles. Walking along the streets, these corners become repetitive, but always different.

The earliest houses date back to the beginning of the 18th century. The oldest can be recognised by their right angle, they were built before a town planning law made the cut angle, ochava, compulsory, in order to facilitate traffic at intersections. The Casa del Cura Inglés is a good example of this. Despite its name, there was no English priest, but more logically an Irish one, who spoke English.

The city is too big for walking, but flat enough for cycling. You can also notice the traditional men’s beret wearing, whereas in Buenos Aires this is no longer done.

Argentinean doors tend to be high and narrow.

And life goes on quietly, the modern hustle and bustle doesn’t seem to have touched San Antonio de Areco yet, as always immersed in the past.

San Antonio de Areco is also known for its efforts to maintain the tradition of pulperias. These were shops that held both the bar and the grocery shop, the restaurant and the cabaret hall. Today the version for tourists tends more towards the restaurant of rustic dishes in an old grocery shop setting.

Among the carefully preserved monuments is the Puente Viejo dating from 1857. It was once a toll bridge, allowing carts to travel northwards beyond the Rio Areco.

Tourism remains relatively low-key without disrupting the normal course of life, with both Argentine visitors attracted by the city’s reputation and foreign travellers using the city’s many small hotels to visit the surrounding area, especially the estancias practising the dia de campo. This is a full day in an estancia, including a horseback ride, an asedo and a gaucho demonstration.

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Soho is the neighbourhood for strolling, shopping and drinking. Many foreign residents have settled here for varying lengths of time, creating a cosmopolitan atmosphere where travellers can easily find their place.

San Antonio de Areco

About 110 kilometres, 70 miles, northwest of Buenos Aires. This small, ancient and prosperous town of 23,000 inhabitants is renowned for having preserved its ancestral rural traditions, particularly those of the Gauchos, the cowboys of the Pampa plains.

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10 comments

    • You’re right, northern Argentina and Uruguay have very similar cultures. Also interminable landscapes that can seem discouraging when you drive randomly without knowing where to go. Looking at the small old towns, there is a lot of history to be discovered. It’s touching to see how the locals try to promote these places without always having a lot of resources.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a delifghtful place I’ve come to learn about thanks to your post. The photographs are brilliant and bring it to life. I confess I’ve never heard of Ricardo Güiraldes or his novel, let alone Segundo Ramírez, but I feel I know them well now. I’d like to read the book sometime so I’ll see if I can find one in English but if not, I can still just about get through a book in Spanish although it’s slow reading. I loved all those tiles, by the way, they could do with a post of their own. Tiles are very ‘big’ in Europe as the Portuguese and Spanish are so well known for theirs – hence I presume in the New World as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t been able to read the book. I couldn’t find any English editions. In French the book was published about twenty years ago but is now out of print. There is still Spanish, but I am afraid that the writing is a little dated and therefore more difficult to read. But I keep this name in mind if I can deepen my knowledge of Argentina. There are not that many tiles, in some places, but it is not general.

      Like

    • Very accurate observation. Actually during the day I would travel in the Pampa around San Antonio de Areco, I would only come back at the end of the day, hence this series of sharp sunshine.

      Like

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