Photos by Pedro Chincoa
Lima’s chaotic and dusty attire can often mislead visitors about the city’s splendid and grandiose history. As the capital of the viceroyalty of Peru – a major portion of the Spanish Empire and a trade hub for precious metal and tropical goods – the coastal city was lavished with riches and served as home to those who possessed them. The Lima elite led sumptuous lifestyles, with indulgence in fine arts, delicious cuisine and social events all staples of their day-to-day routine.
One place where this opulence can still be experienced is in the home of dear Aracari friend, Naguib Ciurlizza; Naguib recently moved to a penthouse apartment that spans three floors of a building in the San Isidro district. Here, he holds one part of what might be regarded as the finest private collection of art in the country.
As well as the works of important Peruvian and international contemporary artists, the collection contains antiques of colonial Peru and the old world. Seventeenth-century colonial carpets, pre-Columbian textiles, fine antique china and 18th century Spanish “La Granja” crystal are juxtaposed against a Miró, Wilfredo Lam, Chadwick and the Peruvian modern artist Super Chaco. The whole apartment is an elegant menagerie of arts from throughout the ages and from across the world, skillfully arranged throughout the three floors; a testimony to Naguib’s keen eye for art and passion for acquiring it (he’s been collecting since he was a teenager).
Avid followers of the Aracari blog will already be familiar with Naguib. We went to his erstwhile Lima home in February 2012 and his garden home on the outskirts of the city back in 2010, where he keeps the other part of his collection. A steady stream of Aracari guests have since visited with Naguib, and have been riveted with the opportunity of getting to know this extraordinary Lima character. Well integrated within Limeñan society and connected within the world of art, Naguib is a gregarious host who possesses an in-depth knowledge of culture and modern society. He doesn’t cease to astound visitors with the insider context that he provides to a visit to Peru, and guests often leave with a perception of Lima that they didn’t expect.
The new venue literally takes Naguib and his art collection to new heights, occupying the 18th, 19th and 20th floors of the building. As well as being able to purvey his stunning collection, guests can at once admire views over Peru’s capital. Lima doesn’t look quite so dusty and chaotic from up here, with the lush green expanse of the golf course directly below, the modernity of the San Isidro business district and views across the sparkling Pacific Ocean all visible from this vantage point. The look in to the lavish lifestyle of Limeñans is completed with a stream of tasty hors d’ oeuvres and cocktails, while there is also the option of having dinner inspired by pre-Columbian recipes (Naguib is an expert on the subject).
Since buying the apartment last year, Naguib has completely renovated it, knocking out old walls and building new staircases across the three floors to craft a luxurious interior for he and his invited guests to enjoy. The 19th floor, where guests first enter, is where most of the action takes place; this is divided between the living room, an elegant dining room, the kitchen and a terrace that looks over the city, decorated with plants and sculptures. Upstairs on the 20th and final floor are Naguib’s private quarters, and only a few guests are invited to see the artwork that is kept up here.
Downstairs on the 18th floor awaits perhaps the most pleasant surprise: new and exclusive to Aracari, it is now possible for guests to actually stay the night at Naguib’s place. This floor has been reserved as a guest apartment with a master bedroom with King bed and luxurious bathroom, a living room, a kitchenette and a spare bedroom should there be a larger group. Naguib’s butlers are at your service; you can flick through the extensive library of publications about art and lifestyle, make yourself a drink from the honesty bar, or just gaze out over your own private view of the city. A delicious breakfast is also included and made to your preference.
If you have ever dreamt of sleeping amidst a fine art collection, with a drawing by Gustav Klimt at your door, then we can now fulfill this desire. If you’re interested in spending an evening at the penthouse suite, or just in popping by Naguib’s for a cocktail or dinner and conversation during your trip to Peru, then do let us know. You may well end up all the wiser about the real story behind Peru’s capital city.