Secret Spots – Barrio Italia, Santiago, ChileMary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
A sort of ‘renaissance’ is going on in my hometown Santiago, the Chilean capital. For decades, the city was thought of as only a stop-for-a-night place, a gateway with nothing much to offer, unlike its more glamorous neighbour, Buenos Aires.
But things are changing – old, sleepy and almost forgotten historical neighbourhoods are coming back to life. The trend started with Lastarria, in the heart of the city, near Santa Lucia Hill, where one fine day in 1536 Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago. Now it’s bursting with life with an abundance of new boutique hotels, shops and restaurants opening their doors, attracting those once reluctant visitors.
And now – still a bit of a secret, only for those “in-the-know”, Barrio Italia has been growing stealthily but surely. Once known as Barrio Santa Isabel, it was an immigrant - mostly Italian - hot spot in the early 1900s. This gave the name to the main street – Avenida Italia – and, in the 1930s, to a theatre, the “Teatro Italia”, thence the current name of the neighbourhood. A quiet and mostly residential area, it started with furniture repair shops, antiques, hat makers and the odd cafe.
With major industrial development, housing became a problem and many dwellings in the area were built in the “cité” style where several flats or even just rooms surround a courtyard, usually with just one street door and/or a small passage to the main street. These old residences were later snapped up by artists or small businesses that led to the development of the current small galleries and workshops.
Today, this Barrio is one of the hot spots of the city. You need to take a taxi to get there from many of the main tourist areas of the city as it’s too far to walk, but that adds to the charm and secretiveness of the space. When strolling around you will see plenty of furniture repair shops and antiques, but for those hidden gems (clothes, jewellery, art galleries, design, etc) you need to stop at the doors and peer inside the courtyards – what you’ll find is always rewarding!
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Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
Lina Fuller - Travel Expert
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert
Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.