Ipanema and Leblon
The most coveted—and expensive—slice of beachfront property in Rio de Janeiro is without a doubt the area from which the first chords of “A Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”) were set down by two bohemian poets.
The year was 1962, and Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Morais were enjoying ice-cold chope (draft beer) at their favorite neighborhood bar when one of many enticingly bronzed and bikinied young Cariocas sashayed by on the way to the beach and inspired the languorously cool bossa nova jewel. The song that seduced the world also summed up the seductive charm of what had become Rio’s hippest, most happening beach bairro.
Since the swinging ’60s, Ipanema has been a magnet for a cosmopolitan yet funky mix of artists, musicians, and leftist intellectuals, along with a rich and trendy crowd who consistently fall prey to the lovely neighborhood with its shady tree-lined streets, fashionable bistros, bars, and boutiques, and magnificent white sands.
Vibrant and animated both day and night, Ipanema retains a more bohemian edge than neighboring Leblon, which is slightly more sedate, tranquil, and residential (and richer), but no less appealing.
Due to the importance of the beach, both Ipanema and Leblon carry off the impressive feat of being both incredibly chic and disarmingly casual. To wit: The sight of tattooed surfer boys, barefoot and dripping wet, carrying their boards past the discreetly jeweled millionaires ensconced at the terraces of five-star restaurants is extremely common.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition