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Vila Madalena

É o meu bairro preferido em Sao Paulo, desde que eu estudava o colegial na USP. E quando tava na Price sempre ia lá almoçar, ou jantar num japa, ou dançar no nao sei onde… A verdade é que esqueci um monte de nomes, mas lembro que era bacana. Tinha um boteco bem atrás do cemitério, um restaurante que de noite tinha música ao vivo e de domingo tocava samba-rock, uma disco que de dia era cabelereiro. Minhas melhores baladas sempre foram na Vila. E de quebra no sábado tem a Benedito que pra mim ainda é passeio obrigatório quando vou a Sampa. Enfim, nostalgias de quem mora fora. Mas segundo a dica do meu amigo max parece que é o pico mais hype da cidade. O que vem abaixo é um copia-e-cola de um email dele, mas se googlar nele deve sair um New York Times da vida…

A Rare Shop-and-Stroll Area

IN much of São Paulo, window-shopping is simply not practical: the concrete city is too vast for sidewalk strolling. Instead, residents who can afford higher-end merchandise drive to centers of consumption known in Brazil as “shoppings”; in the United States, they are called malls.

But there is a new exception: Vila Madalena, a hilly neighborhood in the western zone. Long known as a student hangout for its cheap beers and late-night samba dancing, Vila Madalena has seen an influx of quirky boutiques, which is turning this night-life hub into a pedestrian-friendly shopping arcade.

City officials have noticed and are considering a plan to widen a few sidewalks, install street furniture and turn several blocks into one-way streets.

A good place to start exploring Vila Madalena is along Ruas Wisard and Aspicuelta, between Harmônia and R. Morato Coelho. You might stumble into funky shops like Maria Simone (Rua Wisard, 287; 55-11-3815-5392), a year-old store that sells T-shirts and bags with cute images of dogs and cats embroidered by elderly women.

Next door is Mumps (Rua Wisard, 285; 55-11-3031-7057; www.usemumps.com), which sells its own line of graphic T-shirts inspired by movies and other pop culture references.

“Vila Madalena is a very free neighborhood,” said Tana Millan, the designer behind Simultânea (Rua Aspicuelta, 207; 55-11-3031-9408; www.simultanea.com.br), which sells colorful sundresses and other women’s clothing. “In the Vila, everything is possible. There are no business models.”

Last May, Ms. Millan’s block welcomed what is probably the area’s biggest fashion star to date: Ronaldo Fraga (Rua Aspicuelta, 259; 55-11-3816-2182; www.ronaldofraga.com.br). Mr. Fraga, whose collections are a staple at São Paulo’s Fashion Week, is the kind of designer who usually sets up shop in the exclusive Jardins neighborhood. His lines (mostly for women) often have a Brazilian bent. One is dedicated to the Bossa Nova legend Nara Leão, down to shoes (220 reais) that look like her Volkswagen Beetle convertible.

Across the street is Refazenda (Rua Aspicuelta, 188; 55-11-3816-5414; www.vivarefazenda.com.br), which sells playful but sophisticated handmade dresses, skirts and bags. Many are reversible: one handbag (260 reais) can be flipped from a flowery daytime look to a bluish-green taffeta for the evening.

Trendy cafes have also arrived. The Adelaide Café (Rua Aspicuelta, 202; 55-11-3816-4790) has an airy balcony with wicker chairs, and serves light meals like goat cheese salad (19 reais) and mini-hamburgers (18 reais for six), along with dependable Wi-Fi.

And down the block is Café Florinda (Rua Aspicuelta, 181; 55-11-3814-1060), which has a prix-fixe lunch (20.50 reais) that might include fresh passion fruit juice, salad and a simple pasta with tomato sauce.

Vila Madalena is also a growing hot spot for home design shops. Among the newest is Villa Nova (Rua Girassol, 283; 55-11-3031-4055; www.villanovatecidos.com.br), a rug and fabric store that specializes in sumptuous textiles like Jacquard silk that goes for upward of about 2,350 reais a yard.

“The people who identify themselves with Vila Madalena are creators,” said Nicea Bento Souza, the owner of Composição (Rua Girassol, 228; 55-11-3032-5675; www.composicaome.com.br), which sells jewelry, handbags and shoes, some made from recycled materials. “Vila Madalena still has a truly Brazilian character.”

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