Free bike tours inspired by love of Chile’s capital

A group of young professionals combine their love of the history and culture of Santiago with a vision for creating communities and encouraging the use of bikes.

On Sunday, February 12, an entirely different type of tour will be taking off from Plaza Italia in Santiago.
Led by four young volunteers, a group of cyclists – expected to be somewhere in the hundreds – will visit the sites of some of the most emblematic scenes of love and lust in the city’s history.
“We will see the city through a different lens,” says an open invitation to all residents and visitors to Chile’s capital, “and visit places where some of the most incredible stories of passion and also insanity have taken place.”
Santiago Amoroso (“Amorous Santiago”) is the second project of Patrimonial Bicipaseos (“Heritage Cycleways”) a group of young professionals interested in diffusing and protecting the history and culture of Santiago and encourage the use of bicycles as an alternative means of transport.
In January, their inaugural tour looked at the distinct neighborhoods of Santiago, highlighting the diversity of the capital and the need to preserve some of its historic “barrios.”
The group plans on leading several tours a month, but hopes to institutionalize the second Sunday of each month as a community-building outing.
“We want to foster the use of bicycles and offer families a different kind of weekend activity, where they can learn history in a lucid and healthy way,” Nicolás Aguayo, history researcher and Patrimonial Bicipaseos co-founder told La Hora.
And while the tours are entirely free, the group is looking for financial support to help ensure the survival of their project and expand it into other Chilean cities.
“We are applying for a public tender, but while this is in process, we are open to sponsors,” Aguayo said.
The first destination on the Santiago Amoroso tour will be the iconic Valdivia Hotel, known for its themed rooms designed to transport lovers to exotic locations, from Amazonian jungles to Egyptian temples…. for an evening, at least.
At the Valdivia the guides will recount the story, made famous in the cult book “Santiago Bizarro”, of Eda Meli and her lover Mario Fluhman.
According to the story Eda doted on her husband, and was the “perfect wife” in every way, except for the fact that she had a secret lover, Fluhman.
After their passionate encounters at the Valdivia, Eda would always make sure she was home in time to prepare lunch for her husband, but one day she fell asleep in her lover’s arms and missed the midday ritual.
Distraught, Eda implored her lover to kill her on the spot, and when the police rushed on to the scene, Fluhman handed himself over with the words; “I killed her, but still I love her.»
Other hotels will include the Hotel Crillón, where writer María Luisa Bombal shot her lover in a fit of jealous rage, and the Marín 014, where the famed vocalist for Chilean folk band Quilapayún, Guillermo Oddó, was found dead – according to some accounts – in the arms of a transvestite.
The former house and now museum of Pablo Neruda will also be included on the tour, where the Nobel prize winning poet housed his most famous mistress, and later third wife, Matilde Urrutia.
Even presidents won’t be immune from this group of historical peeping-toms, who will visit a little known apartment building where Salvador Allende held secret rendezvous with lovers during his term as president, which was abruptly ended in the military coup of 1973.
Meanwhile, Patrimonial Bicipaseos has already announced the theme of March’s tour, which will visit the city’s oldest cinemas in a celebration of Santiago’s cinematic history.