Sunday, July 16, 2017

Casona Rosa, Morelia, Michoacán

The city of Morelia is a hidden gem that is on no foreign tourists’ radar. I spent two weeks wandering around the city and rarely saw anyone who was not Mexican.  My mother was a historian of sacral baroque architecture of Croatia, so I was raised on baroque, with a soft spot for the Spanish colonial baroque, the outrageous amalgam of Catholic counter-reformation and Mexico’s native arts. Morelia is a beautiful, once very rich and fully formed baroque city, as perfect as Noto in Sicily or any still preserved central European provincial Habsburg baroque town.

The antique portales on main street of Morelia, Ave Madero, are just 3 blocks from Casona Rosa.  Lu's restaurant in Hotel Casino, across from the  main square Plaza de Armas,  and kitty-corner from Morelia Cathedral, is the best in town. Try uchepos. Try anything on the menu. When you eat at Lu's be sure and say you are a guest of Casona Rosa, and you will get a free dessert.

But what I find even more amazing than the monumental architecture of baroque is how deeply is the aesthetic, artist’s eye embedded into everyday life. No house, no matter how humble, is left unadorned - I spent countless hours walking through the living city, not the Centro Historico, and admiring ordinary homes and ordinary people that make the city a living beehive of myriad small business and human interconnections - you can see my photos here. With it comes the feeling of sadness for citizens of the depressing towns of North American interior, sucked dry by their Walmarts, condemned to isolated life on opioids, and mysterious fear that somehow the vibrant nation of 120 million down south will rob them of their profound poverty… But I digress:)

Rose, the owner, puts much of her time and effort into the Casona Rosa art collection and supporting the local artists, with valuable pieces from artists collected worldwide. What is displayed is the indigenous art of the famous artists and artisans of Michoacán. If you are very patient, have a look at my tour of Casona recorded for my wife here, or you can scan through some photos of Casona Rosa, starting with this one. It's beautiful stuff - as good as anything my native Mexican art collector friend owns. You can see it and buy it in Casa de Artesanias (Plaza San Francisco), but ask Casona Rosa to organize a visit to artisan villages instead.
Lupe and Mireya, and a bevy of young bilingual helpers  (guest services Viviana, IT whizz Leon) take care of the guests. Lupe can tell you about what Mexican food to eat. You can even ask her to prepare something special - she is an awesome cook. The Colonial Suite  is the nicest suite, and also the most private and quiet, in the back of the property.

Casona Rosa will fetch you at the airport airport for the same price as a regular taxi, about mx$400pesos for a half hour ride, but with the vastly more erudite driver Gerardo. Gerardo will tell you all about Franciscan monk brother Jacobo Daciano, born 1484 in Copenhagen – died 1566 in Michoacán who achieved fluency in eight languages and fame among the indigenous people of Michoacán, and whose relics, now lost, were once kept by the Indians of Tarécuato who still celebrate his birthday every year. OK, I am Danish, but Gerardo will teach you something about wherever you hail from.

There is so much more to write about Morelia, but this will have to do (Tripadviser rejected this review, because it has hyperlinks)
PS About tips: nice but not mandatory. Cabs: typically 10 pesos, 20 if cabbies help with luggage or whatever. Most Morelia rides are 40 pesos so with 10 tip it is only about 2.50usd. Restaurants 10% if it's a cheap place. 15% if mid range place. And 20% if high end place and you got  good service. Housekeepers: Most people tip end of stay, anywhere from 50 to 500 pesos.