Views 04 Mar Argentine Gaucho Culture in San Antonio de Areco
 |  Category: Culture and Curiosities

Buenos Aires is a lot more livable than most other big cities I´ve been to, but sometimes you still just need to get out of town. I realized as much last month when the heavy urbanity of the capital started to really weigh on me. Now, I´m a city girl and have only lived in cities. But for me, sane city dwelling must be interjected by quick jaunts to clean air and open skies. And so it was last weekend that I found myself at Retiro station boarding a bus headed for San Antonio de Areco.

It’s a two hour journey to Areco, which is just enough time to watch the scenery turn from concrete urban density to the classically flat green lushness of the Argentine campo. When my husband and I got off the bus, we instantly felt at peace. Walking the few blocks from the bus station to the center we were so pleased to breathe the clear air, and our pace slowed as we released the city rush and accomodated to the much slower rhythm of the pampas.

San Antonio de Areco is truly a charming town. It’s a tourist destination for sure, but it nonetheless retains an authentic attachment to its gaucho roots. The history and tradition of the town is clearly a point of pride. The town center is unusually well preserved, and a number of respected traditional artisans run open workshops not far from the main square. We spent many pleasant hours strolling the town, browsing the artisans´ wares. We also tasted the local, hand-crafted chocolate that has become famous in the area.

Our favorite part of the trip, though, was not the  many hours spent walking around the lovely town, but instead the time we spent on the riverbank. It wasn’t touted in our tourist book, but for me, the riverbank is where the true charm of the town lies. During our walk through town we aggregated all one could want for a delicious picnic (we found a wonderful wine and gourmet food shop) and spent early evening until sunset nibbling, chatting, sipping wine, watching families swim in the river, and wishing we had remembered our mate like all the other people picnicing around us. We couldn’t help but return the following morning to eat a bit of breakfast and read the newspaper (our Spanish lesson for the day!).

One other thing that made our quick stay so wonderful was our hotel. It was truly my favorite place I have ever stayed. It is called Antigua Casona, and while it is a bit pricey by Argentine standards, it is worth every penny. It was an old family home that was turned into a hotel just a year and a half ago. The owners are lovely, the garden is beautiful, and the simple charm of the place is incredible — I highly recommend it.

So, when you’re ready to escape Buenos Aires for a couple of days, San Antonio de Areco should be at the top of your list. It is a quick, inexpensive bus ride away, but you’ll feel as though you’re transported to a much slower and more peaceful time and place.

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