Architecture Art

Pasaje Defensa San Telmo + Casa Pardo San Telmo Buenos Aires

We Cry, We Laugh, We Seek, We Shop

“Do you like Chopin?” goes the old joke. “Only in San Telmo,” we sardonically reply. Nobody does shabby chic better than the Porteños – except the Anglo Irish. But they’re another story altogether. Dundering in looks better in the dusty heat, deep in the United Provinces of the Silver River.

Entering Pasaja Defensa surely must be the closest contemporary experience to visiting an Ancient Roman villa. Originally built for the Ezeiza family in 1880, it’s arranged around a cloistered courtyard supported by the slimmest of columns, four poster bed girthed really, sprouting vegetative capitals.

During the 1930s recession, the building housed 32 families. Nowadays it’s the home of antique dealers, artists and craftsmen. And a forlorn grey cat.

Across the street from Pasaja Defensa is Casa Pardo. A counterpart as sweet as any in Johann Sebastian Bach’s Wachet Auf. If the former is all open aria atria; the latter is a high octave top glazed gallery and a long one at that. Dating from 1745, Casa Pardo was and is a cultural salon. Scion Monica Pardo reminisces,

“Anyone would believe that the ‘gatherings’ were meetings that were held only in the colonial era, but in the 20th century in the House of Pardo, these meetings were held where many collectors, museum directors and historians had coffee and chatted.  Many years ago, when I was very young, I was visiting my grandfather at his Sarmiento Street store and I heard an animated debate between the Unitarians and Federalists.”

We buy, we laugh, we see, we drop. And later, much later, we dance.

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