Coelemu: a town in the midst of Chile’s forests and wine country

As the first pink cherry blossoms of spring bloomed in Coelemu’s Plaza de Armas, residents of the town rejoiced in a merry celebration commemorating of their newly-restored plaza.

In true Coelemu-style, festivities continued into the night, re-inaugurating this historic landmark with music, folkloric dancing, and a traditional Chilean beverage made with chicha and toasted flour.

A close-knit municipality of 16,000 residents along the Itata river, Coelemu was founded in 1750, and the town still clings to its rural agricultural roots and community spirit. Within the tranquil river valley, Coelemu residents enjoy daily life amidst a scenic landscape of forests and vineyards.

Visitors can quickly and easily appreciate this relaxed locale, experiencing local attractions and cuisine and feeling like part of the community.

An important valley

In its early days, the town of Coelemu was moved from its original location near the Itata river to higher ground due to flooding, displaying the community’s characteristic resilience and coexistence with the natural environment.

Its proximity to the river and position between the Andes and the Pacific coast lend Coelemu apt conditions for agriculture, especially the cultivation of wine grapes.

As a result, Coelemu is in a special place with respect to the area’s wine industry. Furthermore, the “Itata Road” – Route 126 – connects two key Chilean wine valleys – the Itata Valley and the Maule Valley.

This geographical point is strategic not only for access to vineyards, but also for the amazing scenery and the possibility of experiencing the area’s winemaking culture.

What to do in Coelemu

Visit the lovely Itata river, where you can find a well-known landmark – a uniquely distressed old bridge known as Puente Viejo, which is now a national historical monument. Stroll through the center of town, rest in the handsome Plaza de Armas, and enjoy local cuisine sold by street-side vendors. And don’t miss out on visiting the area’s wineries, where you will experience first-hand the rich viticulture and landscapes of the Itata Valley.

To truly experience Coelemu’s community spirit, plan to come during one of the town’s annual festivals, like Carnaval de Coelemu in February, Fiesta de la Chicha in April, Fiesta del Chancho in May, Fiesta del Chicarrón in July, Fiesta del Camarón in August, or Fiesta de la Primavera in November.

For more information about festivals and tourism, visit the website of Coelemu´s city government.

How to arrive:

Coelemu is in Chile’s Bío Bío region, 85 km south of Cauquenes on route 126, a lovely road that winds through wine country. Buses travel throughout the region, and visitors can also arrive by car to explore the wine route at a leisurely pace.

By Gretchen Stahlman, written for Chile.Travel
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