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A word to the wise: be careful not to say “river” when you’re in La Boca, despite the nearby port. That’s not because La Boca isn’t near the river, but rather because River is the barrio’s oldest and most-despised soccer rival—and one whose name is likely to get you not-so-friendly stares. La Boca soccer fans of the neighborhood’s famous Boca Juniors club, are as relentlessly zealous as they come. Boca (which once featured soccer legend Diego Maradona) is one of the top football clubs throughout all of South America. As a result, the neighborhood displays a lot of blue and gold (the Boca colors), everywhere from flags to team jerseys to, well, house-fronts.

 

 

But in Buenos Aires’ most colorful neighborhood, the blue and gold blends in. La Boca’s rainbow of brightly painted houses make this neighborhood one of the most fascinating, and memorable in all of Latin America. First settled by Italian immigrants who came to work in the port, La Boca (the mouth) is characterized by brightly painted wood and metal houses, artisan fairs, sidewalk cafes and street-side Tango performances. Its main street, Caminito, looks more like an open-air museum than an actual road with tourists flocking to the neighborhood each weekend to experience the street musicians, performers, Italian taverns and even drag shows. Also on the agenda for visitors is the neighborhood’s famous soccer stadium, La Bombonera, which also provides daytime tours. The colorful houses that line the streets tell an interesting story: the neighborhood’s first settlers who were port workers, built their homes out of leftover sheets of corrugated metal and other scraps from the nearby harbor and port. Due to the high price of paint, they actually used leftovers from ships to cover their houses—often switching colors numerous times throughout a paint job.



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