Sunday, June 21, 2009

Villa Ocampo & San Isidro

Dear Chicago,
I have to be honest. After an amazing weekend in Mendoza, I didn't want to be stuck in Buenos Aires for a field trip. Fortunately, the trip to Victoria Ocampo's mansion was WELL worth the travel and the time! My classmates and I met up at the University building to take a private bus north. On our way we passed by Dr. Liliana's house, the home where I enjoyed my first week in BA. (It feels like that was ages ago!)

Victoria Ocampo (1890-1979) was a wealthy socialite who went against the conventions of her day and lived a fascinating life. She is famous for creating and editing "SUR" magazine and hosting world famous artists and writers in Buenos Aires. She spent most of her life in her family's giant summer home, the house we visited on Saturday. It was an unbelievable house. Every facade was designed with architectural elements from various countries and periods, and there were giant bouganvilia growing around every doorway, to provide a perfume to anyone entering the home. The property was originally 10 hectares, with huge gardens and a view of the Rio de la Plata. My pictures don't do the home justice. Victoria had most of the wood painted white during her interest in the modernist movements. This woman knew everyone - notes and pictures from Charlie Chaplain, lots of the rugs in the home were made by Pablo Picasso. It was really, really neat to see such an unbelievable house and learn about a woman that people remain so proud of. I have been a fan of Silvia Ocampo's work since I started studying Spanish in Iowa, so it was that more interesting to learn about her sister Victoria.

After visiting the Ocampo mansion (part of which included a very detailed tour by a man who could not speak spanish slowly!) we took a walk around downtown San Isidro before heading to a train for home. The town was gorgeous - one of the cities oldest historic neighborhoods. The town was settled in the 1600s and provided produce by train to neighboring Buenos Aires. For this reason it was a great town for summer homes because of the slightly milder climate and the trains. The cathedral is beautiful, as is the Rio de la Plata at night.

Another great side of Argentina I was very lucky to see!

Ciao Ciao-


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