Refining Your Brush Strokes
Art is not necessarily a profession. It can be a passion – something you seek out on the walls of any building you visit, and which you book your most therapeutic travel around. Whether you’re doing a city tour to take in all of the galleries or going on retreat with fellow artists to perfect a technique or three, just remember to schedule your Covid travel testing at an appropriate time prior to your departure.
City Breaks Where Art Rules Supreme
According to Condé Nast Traveler, the “World’s Best Cities for Arts and Culture” are those listed below – centers of music, dance, museums, and theatre; plus “where iconic design and classical concertos were born, and where the latest in creative experimentation is happening, seemingly, on every street corner”. So if the arts rock your boat, the below are just some of the cities to add to your artistic bucket list:
First up, Florence
Voted the top city for arts and culture in the publication’s Reader’s Choice Awards survey, the Italian city of Florence is deserving of at least a week on any art traveler’s must-see list. Jenna Scherer writes that an entire day should be set aside for the Uffizi Museum, of course. The Birth of Venus, a highlight inside, is a delicate and feminine Renaissance painting by Sandro Botticelli that’s dated around 1480 and depicts the goddess Venue emerging fully grown from the sea, immediately after her birth. Take some minutes to simply breathe it in. There’s also the Renaissance marble sculpture, Michelangelo’s David, to survey in all its wonder at the Galleria dell’Accademia. It is famed for the way in which it symbolizes the “unwavering courage, unexpected strength and historic perseverance” of Florence itself, which was a strikingly independent city-state at the time.
Mesmerizing Mexico City
Moving continents towards a more contemporary collection of art, a couple of highlights include the electric-blue La Casa Azul of the late – and hugely unusual – Frida Kahlo, which continues to house a vast assortment of her artworks and possessions; the ultra-modern Soumaya, where you can take in the personal art collection of billionaire Carlos Slim; and a range of regular pop-up venues revealing the dynamism of this city’s overflowing creative juices. For those keen on a little guidance, the Art Galleries Tour of Mexico City may be just right for you. Led by experienced guide Jorge Mendosa, whose background includes working for several years at the National Council for Culture and Arts, you’ll be taken in a small group to a curated selection of five or six galleries that’s an Airbnb VIP experience rated as a resounding 4.83 stars out of five.
Trade route via Istanbul
The Turkish capital, poised as it is between Europe and Asia, offers olde-worlde classics – such as the Hagia Sophia (which has recreated itself over time so that a church evolved into a mosque evolved into the museum it is today) and the Whirling Dervishes (whose spinning-top like dance movement is performed as a devotion to Sufi-ism), to the thriving yet subversive contemporary art, hip-hop and film cult (which erupts from time to time to give expression to the politics of the day). The Artling provides a helpful listing of the commercial galleries and museums you can visit while staying in this bustling city, each with a brief description of its history and works. And, if you time things just right, say next year around September/October, you may be lucky enough to take in a crossover between Turkey’s leading art fair, Contemporary Istanbul, and the Istanbul Biennial, where art events will be hosted anywhere from a Larney office block to a converted warehouse.
On Retreat, With Art as Focus
But there’s also another type of must-do trip for art-lovers – the retreat where you leave all other worldly cares and distractions behind, and simply descend on a place where there’s a valued teacher, a beautiful location, and a bunch of other artists – or wannabe artists – who have all needed to breakaway from life, in general, to experience art, in particular. Venues to look at, include the below:
Release the painter within
If joining a crowd of aspiring painters in the Tuscan countryside appeals, you’re in for a treat with TheMoreYou.com’s “Eat. Paint, Love!” event. Activities include intuition painting, creativity coaching, authentic movement, spontaneous writing, delicious gourmet meals prepared by an on-site chef with a focus on your health, and off-site wine-tasting dinners where a shuttle will provide the necessary pick-up and drop-off services. Reviews state that “this ultra-relaxing, dynamic wellbeing retreat is for adults with any level of art or yoga skill” and that participants leave with a “rich sense of rebirth, and deep alignment to what is important and sustaining in life”. Certainly sounds like it’s geared for tackling both the de-stressing and the rejuvenation birds with one proverbial stone.
Unleash that inner flair
They don’t call this one the Queen of Retreats for nothing. The reason is you’ll be placed in an endless variety of dynamic settings that are intended to naturally trigger the desire to paint or, even, to pen that book. Think cooking classes, yoga, meditation, museum visits, various creative activities, and group discussions, all led by the warmth of Cretian art therapist Penelope Orfanudaki at the setting of her private olive estate Bleverde, on Gavalochori, Crete. This breakaway is particularly geared towards those living a stressful city life, who have a desire to escape and tap into what inherent creativity lies beneath.
A Few Practicalities
But before you get too excited about the city break or retreat itself, just remember to check up as to exactly what the requirements are of entering into the country to which you are traveling, from the one you are leaving. After air tickets and hotel accommodation or retreat are booked, plus visas sorted, there are still all the pandemic requirements to wade through. The latter tend to involve proof of vaccination and a recent, negative PCR test, at the very minimum. Art supplies packed? You’re “a” for away.