Whether it’s a desire to walk the cobblestone streets of an Italian hamlet surrounded by Renaissance architecture or to examine the treasures in the Louvre after the crowds disperse, every art enthusiast has several dream destinations on their travel wish list. Despite all the best efforts, planning a trip can be a herculean task and popular travel destinations often mean enduring long lines of tourists. To suss out the true essence of your favorite far-away city, you might book a tour in advance or visit in the off season, but private viewings and behind-the-scenes tours of top cultural attractions are rare.
This year the experts at Sotheby’s have compiled a list of pre-planned international excursions that most art buffs could only dream about. Experience Art & Culture: An Online Auction (ending Dec. 8) offers a range of curated “experiences” to bring people closer to what they love. Foodies can enjoy an elegant dinner party in Philip Johnson’s Glass House with their closest friends. Architecture enthusiasts can score a behind-the-scenes look at the prestigious Venice Biennale of Architecture. Adventurers can trek to South Africa for a private, guided safari with National Geographic. With something for everyone in the mix, take the plunge and place a bid to explore wherever your love of art and culture might take you next.
Feast Your Eyes in Florence
Visit the birthplace of the Renaissance on an all-access tour of the Florence’s legendary art and architecture sites. This experience is a metaphorical feast for the senses. View the Medici collections in their private palace and go on an after-hours tour of the Palazzo Davanzati and the Bargello Museums. The palace and museums are home to some of the most sumptuous frescoes and historic artifacts in all of Italy. You will end your trip with a traditional Florentine meal at a favorite local restaurant, Trattoria Cammillo, located on the banks of the Arno river.
Treat Your Guests to the Philip Johnson Glass House
Surrounded by the greenery of rural Connecticut, visit the iconic Philip Johnson Glass House with ten of your favorite dinner guests for a gourmet dining experience. As a feat of modern architecture, “The Glass House” is protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and annually hosts 13,000 visitors. Situated on a high hilltop, the house has a 360-degree view of the stone walls that crisscross the pastures below. In addition to stunning architecture, the grounds are also home to an extensive library and permanent modern and contemporary art collection, along with temporary exhibitions and installation by renowned artists such as Robert Indiana and Yayoi Kusama.
Pursue History in Peru
Journey to the mystical landscapes of Peru to see the riches of ancient and contemporary Andean culture. Alongside guides from National Geographic, visit the trendy arts neighborhoods of Lima and museums full of pre-Columbian art in the Barranco district. Free your inner adventurer as you journey to the Sacred Valley nestled at the feet of the Andes Mountains. The weeklong expedition concludes with a train ride that descends into Aguas Calientes, the gateway of Machu Picchu, one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world.
Lunch at the Louvre
What art buff could pass up a chance to contemplate their favorite art in the silence of the Louvre after-hours? After a luxurious two-day stay at the Ritz Hotel Paris, experience the Louvre like never before. Enjoy an expertly guided private tour curated to your artistic preferences; with 35,000 objects on view there is more than enough to appreciate. After the tour, savor the finest French cuisine has to offer at Café Marly in the museum’s Richelieu Wing. Paired with a delicious brasserie menu, end the night with a stunning view of I.M Pei’s famed Louvre Pyramid.
Explore the Culture of Haute Cuisine in Hong Kong
It’s hard to imagine a better combination than Michelin-star cuisine and Asian art in Hong Kong. Spend two days in the luxurious Upper House Hotel overlooking the dazzling Hong Kong harbor. After a gourmet breakfast, see the rarely-viewed art from the private collection at Duddell’s, named one of the best restaurants in the city. In the company of curator and art historian Catherine Maudsley, delve into the ever-expanding field of modern and contemporary Chinese Art. Following the tour of the collection, enjoy cocktails in Duddell’s lush garden terrace. For dinner, prepare your taste buds for the culinary artistry that, according to the New York Times, leaves you feeling “amply pampered.”
Make Time for Marfa
A trip to Marfa, Texas is a respite from the urban noise. The small town is home to 2,000 residents, but in recent years art institutions and stores have set up shop to cater to the growing number of ex-urbanites. Enjoy desert views and a sky full of stars with Yvonne Force Villareal guiding you on an exclusive tour through Marfa’s many landmarks. With an all-access pass, you can explore Marfa’s distinctive art installations like Elmgreen & Dragset’s iconic Prada Marfa sculpture, and enjoy private admission to the Judd Foundation and Ballroom Marfa contemporary art galleries. Following the tour, accompany Villareal for drinks at the historic Brite Home, built by one of the founders of Marfa, Charles Luke Brite. On day two of the Texas adventure, join Douglas Friedman to his favorite artistic haunts in the city including, galleries, shops, and artist hangouts before ending the evening at his personal ranch for cocktails at sunset.
Didn’t find your dream vacation? Other experiences include:
London Dining, Hotel & Art Tour at the Serpentine (2 Guests)
Private Polo Lesson with Nacho Figueras (2 Guests)
Experience the tuning of the bay lights with artist Leo Villareal (3 Guests)
Private Venice Architecture Biennale Tour (4 Guests)
National Geographic Expedition to South Africa: Cape Town and Wildlife Safari with National Geographic Photographer (2 Guests)
Dinner and Visit to Peggy Guggenheim’s Venetian Villa (4 Guests)
With twelve excursions across six continents, there is a trip for every traveler in this one-of-a-kind sale. Explore more chances to visit must-see travel destinations and experience unique curated excursions in Sotheby’s Experience Art & Culture: An Online Auction.