The story behind the Argentine lifestyle neighbourhood that many Americans choose to live

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In Salta, there is an area that Americans fell in love with; A closed neighbourhood was built there where many foreigners choose to live, even permanently.

Cafayate is a place that conquers any Argentine who visits it and also captivates citizens of the United States . Surrounded by multicoloured mountains, it is located in the heart of the Calchaquíes Valleys, 192 kilometres from Salta.

In 2005, a real estate project began to take shape near this town. La Estancia de Cafayate is a gated community located on National Route 40. It offers 360 days of sunshine a year, which attracts Argentines and foreign investors.

Juan Carlos Romero was governor of Salta for three consecutive terms and is currently a province senator. In addition to his work in politics, he had his own land in Cafayate, which he did not know that years later, it would become one of the countries that would form a community with international residents. More than 20 years ago, he met Doug Casey, an American investor who had also bought land in this town. After a conversation, they realized that their land was next to each other and decided to join together to launch this development together.

“The ranch was nothing more than land. The man from Salta did not believe that what exists today would be built,” says Diane Klingesmit, Romero’s daughter-in-law, with her markedly foreign tone, who was part of the promotional group that made the project known in the United States and who currently also lives in the neighbourhood.

“For a long time there were no Argentines, but only American people,” says Candelaria Patrón, who was part of the team that marketed the project in Argentina in its beginnings. She adds, “The foreigner who stayed fell in love with the place.” Today, the proposal has become better known in Argentina, and the owners are 50% foreigners and the other half Argentines.

Currently, 140 houses have been built in the neighbourhood. Although the place is not used as a permanent home but rather as a weekend home, “there are 20 families that live permanently there, of which 15 are from other countries,” says Rodrigo Marcuzzi, the neighbourhood’s developer. 95% of the foreigners are Americans, but some Australians, English and French also reside. The Argentines who own a home there are mostly from Salta and Tucumán, although some owners are also from Buenos Aires.

With an estimated investment of US$40 million over time, the neighbourhood has a size of 550 hectares. Upon entering the site, you travel along an undulating path with 150 lots that have not yet been worked. Once inside, the neighbourhood offers another 400, between 2,000 m² and 4,000 m², which can overlook a vineyard in its garden. Of these already worked, “between 30 and 40 are still sold, for an average ticket of US$ 100,000,” says Marcuzzi. In addition, he adds that there are always resales.

The houses in the neighbourhood are built in a similar style, with rural Spanish colonial architecture, which gives the place a unique identity. The homes follow a specific regulation, with the possibility of variation, within a framework that establishes certain provisions.

The neighbourhood also has a hotel from the international chain called Grace, “a group of luxury boutique hotels located in different paradisiacal destinations around the world,” adds Patrón. La Estancia offers its own wine label, which is produced with grapes grown in vineyards and distributed throughout the neighborhood.

An American who fell in love with Argentina

Diane Klingesmit is from Ohio, United States, and for 20 years, she has lived part of her year in Cafayate, Salta, in the La Estancia neighbourhood of Cafayate. Diane describes the area as “an energizing valley with monumental charm.” He considers that it is his place in the world “that fills me with peace and allows me to interact with people from different places. “I just stopped talking to residents of Brazil, Buenos Aires, France, and the United States.”

In 2005, she married an Argentinean, who was involved in the day-to-day running of this venture. She was working at a marketing magazine in the US, when her father-in-law, Juan Carlos Romero, teamed up with Dough Casey to launch this project. “Dough described it as a small paradise between two hills” Klingesmit notes.

The place has several amenities, such as a golf course, a polo and squash court, and a spa, “but people bought for other reasons. They saw it as a sheltered place, with an impressive natural landscape.”

Married to Romero’s son and with marketing studies, she helped promote the neighbourhood in her country, obtaining foreign buyers. “I grew up in a place with snow, and getting here, with the sun almost every day of the year, is fabulous,” he confesses.

Life in the middle of the mountains, with a monumental natural landscape, can help you disconnect from fast-paced days and establish a connection with nature and people. In the case of Klingesmit, there are three things that he says he falls in love with and that he considers to attract others: “the unique nature, the wild landscape and the people, with their culture and customs.”

He says that Cafayate has a unique fusion of Argentine Europeanism, with its warm people and an area full of ancestral traditions rooted long ago: “Something that is shown in the food: dishes that travel from Italy, but mixed with local humita, which comes from ancient corn.”

Su cariño hacia la Argentina llegó tan lejos, que recientemente escribió el libro The andine table, o La mesa andina,donde detalla costumbres culturales del noroeste argentino, con recetas autóctonas norteñas. “In these 20 years, I have met many people with customs that are not written down. I took classes, we wrote down recipes and made a book,” says Diane.

Other attractions of Cafayate

In pre-Columbian times, the Cafayate area was populated by indigenous Diaguita settlements. Its name is of Quichua or Quechua origin, and although versions vary, one of them claims that it means “water box.” At the end of the 15th century, the conquerors of Peru arrived, and in 1535, the first Spaniards arrived. It is said that this town in the middle of the mountains was the one that resisted the invasion the most.

The place is known for its vineyards, which offer, among other things, Torrontés wine, a characteristic strain of the area. Cafayate is internationally recognized for being part of the highest wine route in the world with the highest concentration of wineries. The area’s characteristics, such as the thermal amplitude and the composition of the soil, favour its development.

Impressive natural attractions are offered very close to the town of Cafayate, such as La Quebrada de las Conchas, the Devil’s Throat, the Amphitheater, and Los Castillos, which, naturally, represent what their names indicate.

Source: La Nacion

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