For a cheerful vacation spot or a festive day trip, visit the gorgeous town of Villa Alegre, in Chile’s Maule Region, 36 km south of Talca and 283 km south of Santiago.
“Villa Alegre” is “Cheerful Valley” in English, and visitors to the town can quickly feel the natural joy and beauty of Maule wine country. Orange trees line the peaceful streets, exuding the sweet perfume of blossoms in springtime. A family-oriented community, Villa Alegre cherishes its folklore traditions and rural heritage, presenting a warm and hospitable ambiance that is typical of small-town Chile.
Villa Alegre is principally sustained through local agriculture, farming and forestry, showing an inherent and natural connection to the environment. Two rivers converge north of town – Maule and Loncomilla – creating a bountiful valley oasis for vineyards and farms.
The town is remembered historically as having pioneered electric tramway transportation in Chile in the early 20th century, and a monument to the now-extinct tramway was installed in the town square.
Villa Alegre is also the final resting place of beloved Chilean television personality Felipe Camiroaga, and the Sala Felipe Camiroaga (Felipe Camiroaga Room) in Villa Alegre’s historical museum exhibits Camiroaga memorabilia.
What to do in Villa Alegre
Villa Alegre is an ideal base camp for visiting wineries throughout the valley. Enjoy the flavors of local artisanal wine and chicha, augmented by a lingering hint of orange blossoms in the air, and meander to key local attractions during your stay.
Iglesia del Niño Jesus (Church of Baby Jesus) was declared a national monument in 1979, and naturalist Father Juan Ignacio Molina is buried here. Having written about evolutionary themes many years earlier than Charles Darwin, Molina’s work influenced the celebrated scientist’s scholarly legacy.
Museo Histórico de Villa Alegre (Villa Alegre Historical Museum) is another national monument, located in a colonial-era house. The museum contains interesting exhibits – like Sala Felipe Camiroaga, a variety of art, historical photographs and manuscripts, and colonial artifacts.
Festival of the Song of the Orange
True to its joyful name and streets of orange trees, Villa Alegre holds the Festival de la Canción de la Naranja (Festival of the Song of the Orange) annually in February. A popular event for tourists, the festival began in 1976 and continues each year with jubilant activities including dancing, music and food.
How to arrive?
Villa Alegre can be reached by bus or car from Talca. Many wine tourism agencies also provide transportation to the town.