Francis Ford Coppola Reveals His Buenos Aires Secrets

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Jardin Escondido

By Simone Girner, Indagare

When Francis Ford Coppola departed Buenos Aires after wrapping his film, Tetro, he left behind an intimate retreat, Jardin Escondido, that he had created in the midst of the vibrant Palermo Soho neighborhood. Says Coppola: “I was interested in the boutique urban hotel as a variation on the resort theme, to use the city itself as inspiration.”

He imbued his new garden oasis with the vivacious art and culture scene of Buenos Aires, turning it into a small boutique hotel that joins the ranks of his other two special properties in Belize (Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn).

Here, the director, hotelier and wine connoisseur tells Indagare what makes Jardin Escondido and BA itself special and shares some of his favorite spots for wining and dining.

What was the inspiration behind Jardin Escondido?

I was beginning to shoot a film on location in Buenos Aires about the same time that our little chain of resorts was growing. I was interested in the boutique urban hotel as a variation on the resort theme: to use the city itself as a theme. When I saw the small hotel in Palermo Soho, I fell in love with its enclosed three-level garden. So I based myself and my small team there at first as we prepared the film, and then later lived there myself throughout the production.

What are some of your favorite details about the property?

I mentioned the garden—but after I had added a balcony on the upper bedroom, I felt that all the focus went toward the light and spectacular planting and care that the artist who created the gardens had given to it. So I made three levels, the main one including a pool which separated where I lived from the main areas, and a large terrace (good for breakfast, I thought) and the roof gardens themselves. I took a small room, probably one that had been intended to be a servant’s room, but created a big window overlooking the roof garden. I set it up as a writing studio, and later it became the granddaughter’s room. During the time of the shooting, I would buy beautiful fabrics and artifacts from northern Argentina and Bolivia and display them throughout the property, so the place is an example of the beautiful things I found and how I enjoyed living there for that year.

Why did you choose to be based in Palermo Soho; what do you love about this neighborhood?

It is an area of vitality, with young people everywhere and new boutiques for clothing, but it is also generally a safe and exciting place to live with lots of cafés and restaurants in walking distance. Also it is right near the Armenian neighborhood, which assures good food.

What impressed you most about BA’s art-culture scene?

It’s very, very vital, with an emphasis on theater of every type. There must be four hundred theatrical presentations going on at any given time, as well as music. I love the definite emphasis on the arts, and of course, going out together late in the evening to enjoy food and truly spectacular wine.

What were some of your favorite BA places (sights, restaurants, museums)?

I loved La Boca where I shot my film, and places there like Carlito’s near the stadium. There are also many fine steak houses of course, and pretty much two kinds of restaurants, parillas (wood grills) or Italian (pasta and types of ravioli). I enjoyed many upscale steak places like Las Lilas, La Brigada, El Obrero and good Chinese food at Todos Contento, located in the two blocks of a Chinatown there.

You’re a wine connoisseur: any favorite discoveries while you were sampling Argentina’s offerings?

Argentine wine is great: the Catena wines, and Trapiche from Mendoza, but that is not the only area—there is great wine from the Patagonia Rio Negro area, like Noeme, and from the north like Corbos. Basically you can’t go wrong with Argentine wine.

Did you travel anywhere else in Argentina and what was the most memorable?

I didn’t have the chance because I was locked into the city by my film, which only allowed a brief period in Patagonia, which was beautiful and sort of like our own Alaska in terms of newness. But when I return I hope to visit Mendoza and further north.

Where are you planning on traveling next?

I love being at home at the moment. I’ve always wanted to visit modern Vietnam, but for a while I’m busy writing and am blessed to make my home in the Napa Valley with an occasional jaunt to San Francisco.

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