With a population close to 11 million, Brazil's (decidedly non-Rio) urban powerhouse blends the exuberance of South America with the poise and sophistication of old Europe.
Author Stephan Talty Photography Raymond Patrick
RIO MAY OFFER the flash, but São Paulo, with its Latin motto non ducor, duco (“I am not led, I lead”), is where you’ll find the sophistication, the power and the future of Brazil. Founded by Jesuits in the 16th century, the city grew rapidly over the next 300 years into a center for the coffee trade before its merchants—many from families that originated in Italy, Portugal and Germany—branched out into heavy industry, banking and financial services.
Its population has since mushroomed to 11 million, making it the biggest city in South America. But what makes “Sampa” (the affectionate nickname for the city) truly a world-class metropolis is how the city’s fathers have managed to keep it surprisingly livable. They’ve blended the monumental and the intimate, the cutting-edge and the folk, the European and the South American. Within the crowded, sprawling megalopolis you’ll find serene parks studded with startling modernist sculptures, restaurants that take Brazil’s beef-dominated culinary tra- ditions and advance them with flourishes from around the world and, of course, teeming clubs that blend Brazil’s bossa nova breeze with the unrelenting thump of modern dance music. With the power and glamour of a cosmopolitan city, but minus the neon-lit ego, São Paulo doesn’t beguile you like Rio or assault you like New York. It sizes you up then smiles and invites you over for a caipirinha.
Image – Raymond Patrick