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16-step world tour: 2018 best destinations

Resilient, revived, charming and unexpected, here’s a few travel tips for the upcoming year

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In case you are a fond traveller, your New Year’s resolutions shall definitely include a visit to a bunch of must-(re)discover cities where philosophical gems, design creations, evocative architectures and utterly contemporary features so masterfully get together. From resilient cities that managed to survive the worst of all seasons by endorsing the citizenry’s creativity, to visionary capitals looking straight to the future and metropolises able to intertwine a significant past with unexpected hues of modernity: well, when it comes to 2018’s best destinations, you are definitely spoilt for choice.


Is there a softer way to start 2018 than visiting Pistoia, the Italian Capital of Culture 2017? By wandering across the city’s streets and alleys, travellers will delve deep into its innate avant-garde nature, the same that once nurtured revolutionary movements like the Italian radical design or enlightened masters such as local architect Giovanni Michelucci among the historical architectures scattered throughout town. A mix of en plein air museums of contemporary art and buildings with bold personality. (Read also → 6 cose che vi siete persi se non avete mai passato un weekend a Pistoia). 

PH: Getty Images


If your New Year’s Eve wasn’t enough boogieing, to enjoy a pop waltzer in-between design and architecture might be your go-to answer. Once in Vienna, just forget the austere feel of an imperial city and let yourselves be dragged into a subterranean world of museums, vintage bars, 5-star hotels of “on the road” taste, renovated areas and plenty of contemporary art. (Read also → I 9 indirizzi della Vienna contemporanea che ogni architetto dovrebbe conoscere). 


If you are fond of epic tales, Beirut is your cup of tea. Strong of its tireless creative push and ability to survive – basically – everything, the city always succeeded in reinventing itself, thus turning itself into an extraordinary example of resilient design. Imbued with a charming past and bearing the scars of a brutal war, today's Beirut is home to stunning architectures, scenographic venues and illustrious art galleries. (Read also → Cosa vedere a Beirut, la città che visse più volte).

Tel Aviv

Chameleon-like and innately modern, Tel Aviv is experiencing a fresh new Golden Age. The White City – a sort of “natural reserve” guarding thousands of Bauhaus architectures – is a constantly evolving metropolis, a spectacular and huge outdoor building site in which Israel’s most illustrious architectural firms are putting their best efforts and injecting truly radical creativity. The result? A land of formerly abandoned neighbourhoods which relive as hype districts in celebration of a multi-layered urban texture. (Read also → Come sarà la nuova Tel Aviv?).


Speaking of cities risen from the ashes, Detroit is no doubt topping the chart: almost mortally hurt by the financial crisis, the city is now a feast of dismissed industrial complexes now transformed into fresh new landmarks of creativity, and abandoned houses which now relive as majestic art installations so charmingly scarred: the Arabian phoenix of the Midwest, Detroit went all the way from roaring Motor City to a modern Pompeii annihilated by the financial crisis and, lastly, a vibrant lab for the urban culture of tomorrow. (Read also → Alla scoperta della nuova vita di Detroit).


Fairylike atmospheres, towering homages to local traditions and modern architectures define present-day Tblisi’s gorgeous face. The Georgian capital is standing at the crossroads of a proud past and a visionary future, right in-between the East and the West, and offers a one-of-a-kind urban scenario made of hyper-modern bridges, extra-large memorials, Western design districts and very contemporary clubs.(Read also → Tutto quello che c'è da vedere a Tbilisi).


Helvetic and buzzing, Zurich is a little-known paradise of contemporary architecture, home to the creativity of both great masters and emerging talents. Iconic works by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava or legendary Le Corbusier live side by side with unusual renovation projects – see the former railway viaducts turned into extra-cool markets, or ex warehouses converted into museums, or old containers now revamped into world-famous brands’ lush flagship stores. (Read also → Zurigo, la città svizzera che abbiamo sempre sottovalutato, è un paradiso di architettura). 


Those of you fond of surprises should definitely head to Perugia in 2018. Indeed, apart from its stunning historical townhouses, the main town of the Umbria region is also a tiny contemporary metropolis as imagined by the greatest architects of all time. This sort of parallel city features public infrastructures by Jean Nouvel, apartment blocks by Aldo Rossi, UFO-like libraries designed by Italo Rota and a few entire districts conceived by Renzo Piano. (Read also → Perugia, un itinerario da archistar).


Dubai is an actual time machine to travel straight to the future. Once landed to the city-capital by the Persian Gulf, you will certainly spot a few hints of major building projects due to be finished in 2020. Eco-friendly skyscrapers, new 100% green neighbourhoods, and futuristic means of transportation will shake up the metropolis’ already spectacular skyline, enriched with cutting-edge gems of the likes of the Burj Khalifa: an engineering masterpiece rising so high that visitors can witness the same sunset twice. (Read also → Dubai, cosa vedere di una città che è già nel futuro).


A feast for both the eyes and all the senses, Parma beautifully merges architecture, design, art and culinary traditions. Home to an innate imagination that never sleeps, the city pairs historical monuments with visionary interventions like stunning bridges, modern museums, Renzo Piano’s spectacular Auditorium Paganini, alongside contemporary oases of estro such as Michel-starred restaurants, design boutique stores and unmissable exhibition spaces. (Read also → Le chicche di Parma in un itinerario d'autore).


Those of you fond of Mediterranean atmospheres should head to Taormina straight away: a stunning Sicilian town overlooking the sea, it once gave shelter to leading Italian intellectuals of the early 1900s and is an unparalleled destination still today. Apart from the well-celebrated Ancient Theatre and Gardens, plenty of design experiments and modern architectures are just at hand waiting to be explored. (Read also → 7 magnifici modi per farsi sorprendere da Taormina).


In Tuscany, right by the Tyrrheanean Sea, a mysterious Modernist slice of heaven blends tranquility, austere luxury, privacy and refined architecture. If you manage to pass the gates of Roccamare, you will have the chance to experience the beauty of such gated community built in the 1950s and home to celebrities and less-known stars’ escapes from reality ever since: here, tributes to Frank Lloyd Wright meet with buildings by Ernesto Nathan Rogers, Pier Niccolò Berardi or studio 3BM. (Read also → Roccamare, lo sconosciuto paradiso modernista sul Tirreno).


The most adventurous of you can pick a destination of high love content. Naples’ unique charme has won the heart of loads of illustrious travellers over the centuries and boasts a hyper-contemporary charme which is hard to resist still today. From the underground – where artwork-like metro stations lie peacefully – to historical townhouses, visionary museums, important art galleries, and lively creative hubs, Naples is definitely a knock-out. (Read also → 11 luoghi di Napoli ad alto rischio di... innamoramento


A private eclecticism and Mitteleuropean allure make Trieste a city of undiscussed creativity. A merge of former warehouses converted into cozy temples of taste, old gas stations turned into cultural hotspots, literary cafes with refined bookstores included, indoor markets renovated into exhibition venues or small creative workshops focusing on design and upcycling. (Read also → 7 passi nella Trieste che non ci si aspetta).


The city’s immortale elegance results from countless hints of thousand-year-long history and the unparalleled mix of contemporary art and design. By relying on eternal admiration, the Holy City trusts that creativity could be the means of a renewed peace and smooth coexistence of its many contradictory souls. (Read also → 6 ottimi motivi per ricordarsi di Gerusalemme).

by Francesco Marchesi / 19 January 2018


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