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Our Real Latin America Expert

Mary Anne Nelson
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

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 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!


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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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

  • Mary Anne Nelson
    Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Consultant

    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 team.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    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.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    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 Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    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.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

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

Meet the team