Pretty Tandil sits at the northern edge of the Sierras de Tandil, a 2.5-million-year-old mountain range worn down to gentle, grassy peaks and rocky outcroppings – perfect for rock climbing and mountain biking. It exudes a rare combination of laid-back country charm with the energy of a thriving regional city. The town center is leafy and relaxed, with many places observing the afternoon siesta. Later in the evening, however, locals crowd the squares and streets, shopping and partaking in the city’s cultural offerings. On a side note, Tandil is known for nurturing a disproportionate number of Argentina’s tennis stars – the latest of whom is Juan Martín del Potro.
The town arose from Fuerte Independencia, a military outpost established in 1823. In the early 1870s, it was the scene of one of the province’s most remarkable battles, when renegade gauchos gathered in the hills before going on a murderous rampage against landowners and recent immigrants. Eventually the immigrants prevailed, and the culinary skills they brought from Europe have made the area an important producer of specialty foods. Today, Tandil is famous for its cheeses and cured meats, which can be sampled in eateries and stores throughout town.