Wandering through the world’s most renowned shopping districts, it’s clear that it’s not only the variety of products themselves that attract visitors but the alluring beauty and visual splendor surrounding each cluster of shops.
Santiago’s Barrio Italia, with its quaint art galleries, hidden patios and tranquil charm, earned a place on luxury magazine Destination’s list of the world’s best shopping districts. Others on the list included the likes of Collins Avenue in Miami, Le Marais in Paris and Altstadt, Zurich.
The history of Barrio Italia, its architecture, scenery and unexpected twists and turns all play their part in its captivating aura. Shopping here becomes a ritual, complete with stops for coffee and snacks.
Many of the modern, renovated buildings that now house the neighborhood’s multitude of offerings were once factories or warehouses belonging to the 19th-century Italian immigrants in the area. Along the serene, tree-lined streets shoppers can now find art galleries, design and antique stores and fashionable restaurants.
“What makes Barrio Italia special is that it combines both old and new. That gives it a great atmosphere because it’s very artistic at the same time as being commercial. It’s not like a shopping mall. Everything is one of a kind and that’s really rare,” Josefa Zamorano, owner of vintage clothes and jewelry store Rocio on Avenida Italia, told This is Chile.
Destination magazine recommends visiting various home decoration stores, such as Bravo! and Savia for modern furniture and Oofelia for innovative lighting designs. Another worthwhile stop is the Casa de Oficios workshop situated in an old house and garden that specializes in teaching crafts such as bookbinding and shoemaking.
It’s common in Santiago to single out particular neighborhoods depending on what they do best. In the same way that Barrio Italia is renowned for its art and shopping scene, Lastarria charms as an upscale restaurant, bar and café hub and Barrio Patronato excites with its array of world cuisine, from Arabic, to Korean and Vietnamese, all at modest prices.
The Barrio Italia neighborhood can be reached from the Bustamante Metro stop or the Santa Isabel stop, both on Line 5. For more to do in Barrio Italia visit BItalia.cl.
By Daphne Karnezis