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The Girl from Ipanema (Garota de Ipanema)

Atardecer en playa de Ipanema
Musico en Ipanema
Paseo maritimo de Ipanema
Tablas de surf en Ipanema
Ipanema durante el carnaval

Brazil wouldn’t be the same without bossa nova, a musical genre deriving from samba that has become especially popular thanks to one song. ‘The Girl from Ipanema’
Following the trail of the song you reach Ipanema; not only an emblematic neighbourhood but one of the wealthiest and most upscale areas in Rio de Janeiro. It's here you will find some of Brazil’s most famous cafés, restaurants, boutiques and hotels. And it was precisely in one of bars where a hugely talented poet, Vinícius de Moraes, and a prolific composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, found their inspiration to write the lyrics of ‘Girl of Ipanema’ (Garota de Ipanema). ‘When she walks she's like a samba. / That swings so cool and sways so gentle’, went the song.

It was the 60s and the iconic song had been created in a bar, which was originally called Veloso, but after the song’s success, the name was changed to ‘Garota de Ipanema’. Standing at number 49 of Vinícius de Moraes today the place is a popular spot for tourists. Included among the dishes they served is the Brazilian ‘picanha’ a grilled cut of meat, also known as rump cover, rump cap or coulotte. You can also enjoy a refreshing caipirinha while you look at the photographs and sheet music of the period.

It wasn’t long until the song and the neighbourhood turned into a symbol of the bossa nova musical style. These rhythms appeared in the 50s and became extremely popular all over the world with the inclusion of artists on the music scene like Gilberto Gil, Vinícius de Moraes, João Gilberto and Tom Jobim, to name just a few. The inheritance left by the song and the fact it turned into a tourist attraction has led to live music being performed in many places. Vinicius Piano Bar is one of the best known. Taking part in samba classes is another entertaining activity visitors can do when they take a trip to Ipanema. There are several samba schools, called gafierías, where you can let yourself get carried away by the Brazilian rhythms. There are other places where they combine traditional samba with more modern styles, like hip hop. This is the case of Studio RJ-New, a disco with a wide range of different proposals.

If you start at the ‘Garota de Ipanema’ café, you can go to Vieira Souto Avenue and then continue walking east along the promenade on the sea front, towards Copacabana. The fine white sand, the surfers and the people playing sport on the promenade will catch all your attention. A few metres before you reach Pedra do Arpoador, there is a life-size bronze statue of ‘Tom’ Jobim. The walk along the paseo marítimo is highly recommended, especially if it ends with a break in the shade of a tree in Parque Garota de Ipanema or taking pleasure in watching the sun set from Pedra do Arpoador, the setting chosen by locals and tourists alike.

Before leaving the neighbourhood, you can pay a visit to the centre of reference of bossa nova music, Toca do Vinícius (Rua Vinícius de Moraes, 129 C). The shop is run by Carlos Alberto, a great expert on the history of Brazilian music. You’ll find books, sheet music and song lyrics lining its shelves that you won’t see anywhere else.

The real girl of Ipanema

Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, better known in Brazil as Heló Pinheiro, is the name of the muse who inspired the composers to write ‘The Girl of Ipanema’. Today the famous young girl of Ipanema is a businesswoman in her 70s. She is married with four children, and together with one of her daughters she presents Ser Mulher, on Fox Life television.

‘The Girl from Ipanema’ (Garota de Ipanema)

More versions, adaptations, translations and recordings have been made of this song than practically any other in the history of music. A great many artists of different nationalities, ages and styles have included it into their repertory at some point. The most famous are Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Amy Winehouse, Astrud Gilberto, Stan Getz, Richard Clayderman, Ella Fitzgerald, Toquinho and Andrea Bocelli, among many others.

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