For those of you who answered “Barbara King”, you can stay after class and write 100 times, “I will respect my elders.” For those of you who were kind enough to refrain from mentioning me, thank you! The answer is: San Telmo, the oldest barrio (neighborhood) in Buenos Aires.
Wednesday’s agenda for Virtuoso’s International Symposium 2013 was called “Design Your Day” and it included a vast array of options to explore BA-by foot, car, boat, and even on horseback at a nearby estancia. Our on-sites, Mai10 and A&K Argentina coordinated all the tours. I picked the Antiques and Silversmith tour, which is what took me to San Telmo.
San Telmo is widely known for its Sunday market where over 200 vendors crowd into a small square selling all sorts of goods---think of it as a glorified flea market. What we discovered today is a more genteel neighborhood, an area of cobblestone streets, art galleries, antique shops, and the studio of renown silversmith, Juan C. Pallarols.
The Pallarols family traces its silversmith lineage back to the 1700’s in Barcelona. The first “New World” Pallarols silversmith was the 2nd generation, notably Rafael Pallarols, who after witnessing Buenos Aires as a city in conflict, returned to Spain, and Vicente Pallarols y Sabate, who spent time in Buenos Aires, but returned to Spain as well.
Jose Pallarols y Torres (1879 – 1951) was the family member credited with settling permanently in Argentina and the Pallarols silversmith craft has flourished ever since. Eva Peron, inspired by European monuments, involved the famous silversmith in her plans to create similar splendor in Argentina. When Eva Peron died, Pallarols was commissioned to create a sarcophagus to house her remains. However, when the revolution occurred in 1955, all things related to Peron were ordered to be destroyed. The Pallarols family secretly kept some of the artwork and in 1983, when democracy came to BA, Juan Carolos Pallarols restored and completed The Mask of Evita.
The Pallarols make a silver cane given to each new President of Argentina and create fountain pens that are works of art, along with several other remarkable silver items. Currently, they are creating a simple hammered silver chalice for the new Pope, Francis.
Ready for the uber cool part of this story (it’s not just a lesson in Argentine history, friends!)? Each of us on the silversmith and antiques tour had the opportunity to add a few hammer marks to the Pope’s chalice! Our host for the tour, A&K Argentina, arranged this special surprise for us, once again underscoring the Virtuoso commitment to extraordinary experiences.
After our extensive tour at the studio of Juan C. Pallarols, we strolled through a few antique shops (prices of antiques in BA are quite reasonable) and ended our tour with a stop at the famous Café Tortoni, the oldest coffee shop in Argentina (founded in 1858).
Now, back at the Four Seasons, I am packing for the next part of my journey - 4 nights at Tierra Patagonia in Chile. You realize, of course, we Virtuosos do not go quietly into the night and BA is no exception. Last night’s extravaganza, hosted by Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt, included polo ponies, hand-rolled cigars, a 16 piece orchestra, and food stations placed strategically throughout the hotel. As for tonight, I can only imagine what Leading Hotels of the World has planned! I know I’m supposed to be at the Faena Art Center at 7:30 PM in “glam cocktail attire” - which translates into time for a nap my friends! Adios!