Back to the origin
The colonial zone of Santo Domingo, a historical capital where you can fly from 42,500 Avios (return), has become a shopping destination with an exemplary sustainable vision. We explore its beautiful streets and the shops of creators highlighting the value of materials such as the country’s mysterious national stone – the larimar – “green” options, cafés that promote Dominican coffee plantations and their increasing quality and artists that connect the country’s artisans.
Images by Sergio Villalba
1 Casa Barista
“Observing the entire process with a magnifying glass, from the farm to the shop,” is the obsession of this establishment that works with local producers and has modernised the sector in the city with extraction processes that go beyond the traditional espresso machine, such as the Chemex/V60 and the siphon or vacuum machine. Visitors to Casa Barista can enjoy a tasty cup on site or – if they prefer – take home coffees of certified origin and tools to learn how to prepare it in different ways.
2 La Alpargatería
When Ricardo Fernández Alfaro and César García opened their first shop on Salomé Ureña Street in 2011, they became the pioneers of the business transformation of La Zona. Since then, La Alpargatería has grown to three establishments – one of which serves as the workshop – where the tradition of Spanish masters, such as Ricardo’s great-grandfather, from Cervera del Río Alhama, melds with the experience of local shoemakers. Their aim is for their alpargatas – made of natural fibres and sustainable leather – to last. In fact, many customers take them there for repair. Their latest development is the opportunity to customise designs, something that their loyal local customers have been asking for
3 Los Tejedores
In this unique project, the couple comprising artist and designer Natalia Ortega Gámez and musician and filmmaker Ricarco Ariel Toribio offer innovative designs from hats and bags to furniture and other items, all created by natural fibre artists from both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. They sell them by appointment at their own home, while working with a biologist from the botanical garden and planning to open a centre for the protection of raw materials. Their support for handcrafted items has improved the lives of many communities by offering an international outlet for their products. Their biggest buyer is Puerto Rico, but through Los Tejedores, they also reach remote places such as Australia, “which is number one in buying hats,” says Ricardo.
4 Casa Alfarera
Renowned architects, designers and chefs such as Chef Tita come to Casa Alfarera to purchase their designs of XXX. Founded in 2013 by ceramist Ysabela Molini, this workshop’s production is based on traditional techniques and local materials. It controls the cycle of creation from the mixtures of clay to cooking in kilns that reach 1,250º C. “The process is so meticulous that commissions can take up to eight weeks,” explains Darionela Ramírez, the manager.
5 Fleury Artesanías
Although the first documented references to larimar date from 1916, it was not until the 1970s that it was “rediscovered” in the Barahona area. A few years later, in 2011, this striking semi-precious intensely blue stone found only in the Dominican Republic was declared the national stone. The Colonial Zone is home to establishments that sell it, usually set in silver. Fleury Artensanías, a studio/shop located where Mercedes and Santomé streets meet, has been working with larimar for more than 40 years, along with amber from Santiago, Puerto Plata and Sabana de la Mar in Hato Major.