It seems almost impossible, but 2020 is finally coming to an end. And as always, when we approach the beginning of a new year we start to think about what we would like to achieve in the future. 2020 has been particularly tough on so many levels and from so many points of view. Everyone felt the strong impact this year had on people and the World, but as we finally advance towards its ending, we can try to save whatever this year taught us and move forward from this point. 

As for me, for example, 2020 started as the year I was supposed to live my best life in New York. Little I knew 12 months ago I would end this year in my old apartment in Florence. But nonetheless, 2020 gave me the courage to open this blog, and this past year I met a few new friends that I am sure will stay with me for a long time to come. 

Traveling in 2020

Travel wise, 2020 has not been the best year so far, but not the worst at all either. And although we never get tired of traveling and we never have enough of it, this past year was still kinda ok. Sure, a lot of places I was planning to visit had to be taken out of my list. But I hope those trips are just postponed to better times, that hopefully will come sooner than we think. 

And to celebrate the end of this (nefarious) year, and start looking forward to 2021, I decided to list the places I would like to visit in the upcoming 12 months. I draw some inspiration from the Lonely Planet “Best in Travel 2021” list that was just published a few days ago and tried to mix destinations in Italy, Europe, and further away around the globe. Dreaming is still free after all! 

And you, what are your travel plans for 2021? 

2021 destinations - Shanghai
Photo by Edward He on Unsplash

Shanghai, China

Perhaps the most long-awaited trip of my life. 2020 was the year I was planning to finally go to China, but needless to say, my plans turned out to be ruined by the global pandemic. China fascinates me for so many reasons, for its culture and history, food, and attractions. And Shanghai is (to me) the perfect access gate to it all. And since I almost only travel to discover contemporary art, Shanghai is the perfect city for this as well. It is so rich in galleries, museums, foundations, and any other art institution I could possibly imagine that it could be a month-long trip on its own. But once I would finally make my way to China, I will have to visit Beijing as well, and Hong Kong – and a bunch of other places, to be honest. 

Is 2021 going to be the right year? Chances are, in the upcoming year I will be a lot more engaged with the Chinese art scene, working with some Chinese artists for a curatorial project. So, fingers crossed, in 12 months, I could be writing about Shanghai from a totally different perspective. 

Deensel, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Second only to China in my personal top 3 of destinations I want to visit, Argentina is perhaps the place I have dreamt about for the longest time. I remember I was a kid when I first decided I wanted to go to Patagonia, mostly because at the time it looked to me as the furthest point away from my home looking at a World map. How did I choose it as the most remote place to visit? I don’t know, I was 5 or 6 years old and I had no idea whatsoever what Patagonia looked like. But the idea stuck with me for years and it grew on me. The original plan was to go to Patagonia for my 30th birthday, but it’ll have to wait for a later anniversary. 

Buenos Aires, in particular, is the city where I would love to immerse myself in contemporary art before setting off to the glaciers and stunning sceneries of the Tierra del Fuego. The capital city of Argentina is the major city of the country and a great contemporary art hub. With museums, galleries, and art fairs, it is definitely the best place to get to know the Latin America art scene. And with 2021 being the year of the 7th edition of BIENALSUR, the first Art Biennial of South America, it is definitely high on my bucket list! 

Naples” by Harshil Shah is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Naples, Italy

Believe it or not, despite being Italian I have never visited Naples in my life, not even once. I know people are coming from all over the World to visit Napoli and the beautiful Amalfi coast. But, to be honest, I always felt it was too popular and too crowded to be worth the visit. Yet now, with fewer people, I think the time has finally come.

Napoli is relatively simple to reach from where I currently live, with just a 3 hours train ride. And with some striking galleries, like Galleria Lia Rumma, and art institutions, like the Fondazione Morra Greco, and the Madre Museum of Contemporary art, it is definitely a must-see for contemporary art in Italy. Add the beautiful sea, the amazing food, and the stunning views over the gulf, and I guess we can safely say it’ll be the first destination I’ll visit as soon as the second lockdown eases down. 

Marrakesh” by Matteo Martinello is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Marrakesh, Marocco

Talking of long-awaited trips, Marrakesh is another one I have been planning for a while. Close enough to be easily reached with a cheap flight from Italy, but also quite exotic, it looks like the perfect destination both for a weekend or as part of a longer trip to Morocco. Marrakesh is an affordable destination, that can be easily visited in a few days, giving you the time to enjoy the chaotic Medina as well as beautiful gardens and or luxurious hammam.

But Marrakesh is more than just that, and when it comes to contemporary art it is a great city to explore. Thanks to MACAAL, the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, and to the Marrakesh branch of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the city is the best place to discover cutting edge and experimental African artists. Pair it with a nice network of galleries, artists’ residencies, sculpture parks, and foundations and you can understand why Marrakesh is on this list. 

Helsinki, Finland

Out of all the destinations I have mentioned here, Helsinki is the only city that I have visited before. But it was many years ago and I would like to go back and see how it changed, or just enjoy different perspectives. After all, I was there when I was a young teenager, in love with a Finnish rock band, and all I did was looking around trying to spot my idols. The reason why I included Helsinki in this list is pretty simple. I was supposed to curate an exhibition for a gallery there a couple of years ago, which unfortunately didn’t go through in the end. But I was mentally preparing for the trip, and I would still like to experience the Finnish art scene. Plus, I sort of miss the cold cold NYC winters and Helsinki would definitely satisfy my craving for freezing temperatures. 

Cover image by Tapio Haaja on Unsplash