European vacations can seem like an endless list of to-sees and to-dos. Eiffel Tower? Check. Louvre? Check. Arc de Triomphe? Check. But no matter if it’s your first time in a city or if you are a repeat visitor, you may crave more immersive experiences than what a top ten checklist in a guidebook can provide.

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Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley, France ©Curated Touring

Arts and culture tour operator Curated Touring has announced its itineraries for 2020 which feature private and exclusive visits to Western Europe’s most adored cultural sites, including uninterrupted off-hours tours of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel in Rome to exploring frescoed chapels closed for restoration in Tuscany.

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See the sights of Rome without the crowds ©Curated Touring

“While off-the-beaten-path journeys are always popular, we also love offering a fresh lens on favorite, beloved destinations,” says Meagan Labunski, PhD, who founded the company in 2018 along with Matt Woodworth, PhD. “Most of our guests who join us in popular destinations like Rome, Paris, and Florence have visited these cities before, yet they constantly tell us that we have shown it to them in a completely new way—and that’s exactly what we’re after! 

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Explore hidden parts of Scotland ©Curated Touring

Upcoming tours in Scotland will offer the opportunity to stay in the former palace of Mary, Queen of Scots and explore closed castles and churches. A newly-announced tour of Alsace will take travelers to Romanesque churches that have been locked up for years, allow them a peek at paintings that have been in storage since the 19th century, and stroll through vineyards escorted by the great-great-great-grandchildren of the vintners who founded them. 

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Medieval Alsace ©Curated Touring

According to Labunski, having the privilege of seeing art in seclusion makes the experience closer to what the artist or architect originally intended. “When we strip away the noise and crowds, we can more clearly hear the stories these works and their artists are communicating,” she says. “Visiting a place or space becomes more intimate and profound when we have the opportunity of doing so in solitude.” Thus, guests at the Galleria Borghese can imagine what it must have felt like for a 17th-century guest at Cardinal Borghese’s palatial estate, and those soaking in the massive canvases of Monet’s water lilies at the Musée l’Orangerie can better appreciate the Impressionist’s use of light and color without the crowds capturing selfies and panoramic videos and photos. And the epicurean-minded can have their palates piqued in the Loire Valley with sommelier-led wine tastings and a cooking class with a twice-starred Michelin chef.

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Enjoy the peace of a Tuscan vineyard ©Curated Touring

The duo hope visitors will depart with more of a profound understanding of a region. “Guests leave our journeys having experienced genuine, true interactions with another place, its culture, and its people, rather than ticking off a series of ‘must-see’ boxes,” says Woodworth.  

Curated Touring’s new tours for 2020 include Alsace, Loire Valley, Florence & Tuscany, Scotland, Paris and Rome, and tour pricing starts at $11,834 (£9185) per person. For more information on booking and reservations visit www.curatedtouring.com.

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