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Padre Antonio Ronchi

One of the most legendary figures of Chile’s Aysén region is Padre Antonio Ronchi (Born February 3, 1930, Balsamo, Milan, Italy; died December 17, 1997, Santiago de Chile). This Italian priest arrived in Chile in September 1960 with the Madre de la Divina Providencia mission. The following year he was sent to Puerto Cisnes to work with the poor there. For over three decades he helped settlements throughout the entire region to create the infrastructure so sorely needed. With his guidance, they built churches, schools, health posts, roads, training centers and radio and TV stations. During the Pinochet dictatorship, his activities came under scrutiny time and again.


Much of what he helped establish yet form the economic and social bases for these villages, from the women’s artisan cooperative in Puerto Ibáñez to the Maripro radio network. Many villages have statues commemorating him, and in Villa O’Higgins is a museum honoring his work. The ferry across Fiordo Mitchell, from Puerto Yungay to Río Bravo on the Carretera Austral, is named for him. Many locals fondly remember him and tell tales of his endless journeying on foot, through mud and snows, to help their communities grow.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Carretera Austral and Northern Patagonia: History of the Carretera Austral and Northern Patagonia,

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