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Our Real Latin America Expert

Mary Anne Nelson
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

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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.

Barrio Italia, Santiago

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!

airline-latam
LATAM Airlines offers access to the most extensive flight network in Latin America, reaching more than 115 destinations in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Paraguay.

You can fly with LATAM Airlines via Madrid to Santiago.

LATAM Airlines is a oneworld member – you can accumulate air miles with all oneworld partners.

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Flexible, custom-made holidays to Latin America created to match your exact requirements: our tailor-made itineraries are as unique as the clients for whom they are designed.

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Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Lina Fuller
    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.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    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.

  • Ben Line
    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.

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

    Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

Meet the team