Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. New York Times

The 41 Places to Go in 2011

Published: January 7, 2011

31. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay [>>]
The ranches beyond a historic village offer a dose of rural chic.

Colonia del Sacramento, on the southwestern shores of Uruguay, has long been a popular detour from Buenos Aires. Reachable by ferry across the Río de la Plata, this UnescoWorld Heritage site offers centuries-old stone houses, casual restaurants with riverside patios and boutiques selling crafts. In the last few years, its appeal has spilled into the surrounding countryside, where tastefully decorated ranches and locavore offerings are attracting travelers in search of rural chic.

At the recently opened La Vigna, 37 miles south of the historic quarter, guests can learn about organic farming, sheep shearing and other activities worthy of a gaucho. Or they can just relax at the main house, a restored Renaissance Revival estate built in 1880 by Italian winemakers. It has five rooms furnished with rustic antiques and ceramics made on site.

Deeper inland, Estancia Tierra Santa (open March to June and September to December) has three suites inside a renovated colonial manor — all with wood-burning fireplaces and outdoor terraces. More than 50 bird species have been spotted during expeditions at this ranch, which also offers fishing, hunting and riding on criollo horses.

The promenade at the nearby Puerto Camacho marina includes a stone-walled chapel, a food shop that stocks artisanal preserves and a restaurant, Basta Pedro. The marina, part of a larger development, will include a racetrack with lessons taught by expert riders. You’ll be galloping through the grasslands in no time. 
— PAOLA SINGER

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