Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Student Spotlight: Aron and Gabriel Lesser ‘15

Aron and Gabriel Lesser have written and published Piecing Together São Paulo: An Insider’s Guide to Food, History, and Culture in a Bustling Metropolis (2015), a travel guide with a new model of ‘non-consumptive’ urban tourism. By focusing on neighborhood walking tours, the twins emphasize that tourists don’t have to go to certain restaurants, hotels, or sites to fully experience a city.

Names: Aron and Gabriel Lesser ‘15

Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil/Atlanta, GA


Gabriel: Hispanic Studies, Peer Liaison in the CLACS/Botin program

Aron: Latin American and Caribbean Studies 

How did the idea of the book start?

Gabriel: As kids growing up in São Paulo, we were often told to steer away from all the supposedly ‘dangerous neighborhoods’, to not even take public transportation. However, our father - a historian of the city - encouraged us to critically explore those stigmatized areas. We always loved “traveling” within São Paulo and hope to share those experiences with people visiting the city.

What are you trying to do with the book?

Aron: We want to challenge the perceptions that São Paulo is a bad place for tourists because it actually has a lot to offer. We remember going to a bookstore in São Paulo a few years ago and not finding a single travel book about the city. So we went ahead and made 10 walking tours through our own cultural spaces rather than municipal neighborhoods. We wanted to get to the essence of what it’s like to live in São Paulo. We don’t claim to know everything about the city. Rather, the guide is meant to show readers our image of SP. That’s why we don’t have pretty photos of tourist sites or restaurants and why we talk directly to the reader - almost like we’re there in person - about the historical and cultural layers of the streets, buildings, and neighborhoods. The idea is to give different versions of the city’s history by walking a visitor through São Paulo.

Purchase and read more about Aron and Gabriel’s new book

Click here for purchasing information in Brazil.