Travel black book: Chill in Chile

Travel black book: Chill in Chile

Who: Lino Sauro, 45, Italian owner and chef of Gattopardo Ristorante del Mare Italian restaurant in Tras Street. He is married to translator and interpreter Constanza, 39. They have two children, Noah, three, and Liam, 1 1/2.

Favourite destination: Santiago, Chile

Why: It is where I met my wife, a Chilean, when I was backpacking there in 2001. We go back at least once a year to visit family.

Favourite hotel

We usually stay with family when we are in Santiago, but outside of the city, I highly recommend Huilo Huilo resort ( where my sister-in-law was married. It is in Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, which covers more than 60,000ha and is in the middle of the Chilean Patagonian Rainforest, with views of the Andes Mountain range.

The cabins and treehouses, made of wood and stone, blend into the landscape. The resort is committed to sustainable tourism and the conservation of nature and culture.

Everything used in the construction and decor is natural; the wood is free of chemicals and preservatives, and electricity is generated by solar and hydro power. It looks rustic on the outside, but the resort offers five-star luxury in the middle of the deep, green forest.

Favourite restaurants

Being from Sicily, which is known for its seafood, I am naturally interested in Chilean seafood and how the restaurants serve it.

La Mar (Av. Nueva Costanera 4076, Vitacura, Santiago; tel: +56-2-2206-7839; lamarcebicheria. cl) is a seafood restaurant run by Gaston Acurio Jaramillo, one of Peru's award-winning chefs and an ambassador of Peruvian cuisine.

His Peruvian-style ceviches are particularly good as is the uni from Chile which has much more salinity than Japanese uni and tastes very different.

The food is good and the restaurant's happy energy keeps me going back.

I also like Aqui Esta Coco (Calle la Concepcion 236, Providencia, Santiago; tel: +56 2-2235-8649;, which means "here is coco" - the owner-chef's name is Coco Pacheco. He is also a well-known cookbook author.

The restaurant focuses on seafood, though Pacheco has more of a classical Chilean style. I like how his dishes are so simple, but so good.

One of my favourites is Coco Rice, which is like a seafood risotto with all kinds of Chilean seafood. It is full of flavours and Chilean spices, such as merken, a Chilean paprika.

Meals at both restaurants cost about $50 a person without wine.

Favourite museum

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Bandera 361, Santiago; tel: +56-2-2928-1500; precolom-bino. cl/en/) is the best place to understand the history of Chile. It comprehensively tells the story of the Mapuche, the indigenous people of Chile.

I like taking a walk in the downtown area to admire the architecture. The European architecture is very well-preserved in the financial area. There are vibrant communities of Germans, Italians and English in Chile.

Favourite tourist site

Palacio de La Moneda, also known as La Moneda which means "the coin", is the seat of the President of Chile. (Moneda S/N, Santiago, Region Metropolitana, Chile; tel: +56-2-2690-4000; palacio).

During the military coup d'etat on Sept 11, 1973, the Chilean Air Force attacked the palace and though reconstruction and restoration projects were completed in 1981, you can still see some of the bullet marks that have been preserved.

Favourite afternoon activity

My family and I like to head to Parque Bicentenario, where many families go to relax. We pack picnic baskets and lounge around while the kids entertain themselves at the playgrounds. We can spend an entire day there.

Mestizo (Av. Bicentenario 4050, Vitacura, Santiago), a very hip bar and restaurant, is situated at the edge of the park. It is bustling with music and is where the local hipsters hang out.

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