Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Buenos Aires day 3 – from hell to Genova

In theory, I should be writing about the New Year but, as usual, I still have quite a few things from last year (2016) to finish writing about before we can get to that. So, here's more Buenos Aires!

Palacio Barolo

There's this office building, built in 1923, called Palacio Barolo. It's one weird place. The owner had it built with the thought that someday the remains of Dante Alighieri could be moved here, and that it would sort of do the job of a mausoleum. The whole building has incorporated in its design Dante's Divine Comedy – it's divided into hell, purgatory and heaven, and there are many numerological references all over the place. I'm not sure I can say it's beautiful, but it's definitely intriguingly bizarre. 

When you finally rise to heaven, you are rewarded with fantastic views of the city of Buenos Aires on all sides, including the Río de la Plata (River Plate). And at the very very top, there is the Empyrean Heaven, the highest of heavens – a lighthouse , reachable only by a very narrow staircase. I loved sitting up there with this fantastic piece of work!

This is the Palacio Barolo, seen from below.

Of buildings and books

After the Palacio Barolo, we wanted to have a look at a bookshop inside a theatre – the Ateneo Grand Splendid. But to get there, we had to walk through more of the city, past what seemed countless architectural gems. Like, really, you can't believe how rich this country must have been in the past! And the bookshop? Such a treat! Inside it still feels like the theatre it once was! So majestic and beautiful! The frescoes, the the curtains, the theatre boxes... the stage is a café... It's a fantastic place to have a look, sit down to dip into a book, have a coffee and a medialuna... 

The city of the dead

After that, it was time to pay a visit to the dead at what should be seen more as a necropolis than a cemetery – the Cementerio de la Recoleta. Numerous personalities are buried here, including Evita Perón (see photo with flowers on the door), and the place has countless mausoleums and chapels in many styles, including Art Déco! There are what you could see as streets, avenues and alleys, some of which have trees... It's quite a place to visit!

Butoh and muzzarella

To end the day, we went to a Butoh presentation by Gustavo Collini, an Argentinean artist that studied under Kazuo Ohno and who presented a homage to Ohno by a gigantic rubber tree. It was a long performance incorporating a number of other artists and styles partially or wholy unrelated to Butoh, but it was worth waiting near the end to see this re-enactment of some of Ohno's most famous moments.

Tired after such a long day, and a tad too late to get the subway back home, we headed to the nearest source of food – Pizzería Kentucky! I know, a pizzeria called Kentucky? But it looked as authentic as your basic Buenos Aires pizza parlour should look, with quite a few varieties of pizza (all traditional kinds, though). Of course, I had to have another go at the muzzarella one, along with a fainá (a chickpea, olive oil, salt and pepper pancake). And here is where you notice that Buenos Aires does not really simply have an Italian influence, it's got a Genovese-Ligurian one! Because muzzarella and fainá are actually the Ligurian forms of the Genovese dialect, which in standard Italian would be mozzarella and farinata!

Whatever the pronunciation, this plus a nice draft beer were the perfect ending for our explorations. After which we took the bus home.

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