Oppa La Vida! Art and Science in a Mountain Environment: The Chapel of Buffo

Unquillo is located 41 km from Córdoba. From that mountain town, you can reach Villa Leonor, just 7 kilometers from Unquillo. It’s in the same place as Los Quebrachitos Water Reserve. A protected mountain environment with indigenous flora and fauna where conservation, education and research activities on local natural resources are promoted.

In this place we see the sources of the Cabana Current and the Ensenadas, both of which are tributaries of the Unquillo Current. The latter together with the course of the Ceballos River forms the Saldán River.

The Povo Chapel is a geophysical station that monitors seismic movements within 72 hours. advance. But above all, this white hermitage is a sacred place built by Italian artist Guido Buffo in memory of his wife and daughter, who died of tuberculosis.

Born in 1985 in Treviso, Italy, Guido Buffo studied fine arts and was a teacher in Paris when I was invited to Argentina in 1910. After spending time in Buenos Aires and Rosario, he also arrived in Cordoba where he was called to attend an important art show. There he casually meets Leonor Allende, a wonderful woman, writer and journalist from the well-known Cordovan family. She was a writer, researching current issues and working for La Voz del Interior.

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They got married and a few years later acquired 50 hectares in the Cabana, Unquillo area to build a summer house where they would attend each term after the school year. The church is also an ogival-shaped tomb where the remains of three members of this family rest, giving rise to the creation of the Cordoba and Argentinian landscape. The church on the mountain evokes the shape of the sacred thistle flower, a warhead that is repeated elsewhere. The whole thing is complemented by an Art Deco tower with jagged edges and has a kind of bell tower at the end that can be accessed by a circular staircase. Inside the church we can appreciate the family history and synthesis of Buffo’s life, where on every wall are frescoes and inscriptions representing all that Guido Buffo was.

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In the fresco behind the altar, you can see what Guido wanted to express about the creation of the world, as two hands are seen holding a bubble as fragile as the soap bubble from which the small and great universe is born. Another wall has Leonor as the protagonist with her fresco with specific features and a miraculous look. In another sector, we see the representation of his beloved daughter, Eleanor. On Earth are carpet-shaped clouds inlaid with metal and copper that recreated the position of the planets and stars on the day his daughter died.

Over the years the artworks have lost their color and suffered from the deterioration of time. In 2014/2015, artist and restorer Marcella Mamana was responsible for bringing the church’s frescoes back to life using innovative technology. It was directed directly by chemical technicians from Italy. Mammana applied for the first time in South America a cutting edge technology consisting of applying nano-particles of lime with torches. The restoration process took nine months.

The Buffo Chapel is undoubtedly a stunning work of architecture that combines astronomy, art and physics, but above all it is one of the greatest and most beloved monuments of all time. It is undoubtedly a historical and cultural heritage of immeasurable value to Córdoba and the country.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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