By Jo Stewart
Local pride is so strong in Arequipa that the plucky city has tried to secede from Peru many times. Despite tabling a new flag and passport, the “Independent Republic of Arequipa” hasn’t quite taken off but it’s easy to see why locals so fiercely love Peru’s second-largest city.
Ringed by three volcanoes – Chachani, El Misti and Pichu Pichu – photogenic Arequipa is a movable feast for architecture aficionados, food-lovers and design fans. The whitewashed Colonial buildings of the White City receive about 300 days of sunshine annually yet despite the favourable climate, Arequipa maintains a small-town feel.
From admiring the striking colours of Santa Catalina Monastery to picking through vintage textiles in antique shops, Arequipa’s historic city centre is made for wandering.
It’s also made for eating. Down Andean corn ale at independent craft-beer bars such as Chelawasi Public House & Beer Co. (102 Campo Redondo, San Lázaro), order lomo saltado (Peruvian steak and fries) at Chicha por Gastón Acurio and pop in to forward-thinking vegan chocolatier Chaqchao – the perfect way to experience Arequipa’s heady mix of past and present, tradition and transformation.