Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Shopping in Florence

Do you have a long list of people you still need to buy holiday gifts for? Looking for something unique for the person who "has it all"? Let our personal shopping guides help you!

After years of recommending the best shopping around, we now have a shopping tour with top tips for great shopping in Florence. Looking for leather? We point out the best buys… We also see Florence's best ceramics, paper, gifts, jewellery, clothes, linen and shoes. Save time and save money with our carefully selected reputable suppliers. We follow a strict policy of 'Integrity in Travel'; we do not accept commissions from shops, instead selected shops offer discounts to Walking Tours of Florence customers!

For more information and to book, visit our website at: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/florence_tuscany/shopping_florence

Experience the Magic of Florence during the Holiday Season!


Your own private guide will show you will some of the glorious historic sights of the city (Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo) as well as point out great places to do your holiday shopping! You’ll discover the hidden Christmas presepi (Italian Nativity scenes) decorating the small churches through-out the city and delight in the most famous Christmas procession frescoes located in the Medici Palace. A short break half-way through the tour will allow you to indulge in traditional roasted chestnuts and the tour will end at the winter Christmas markets in Piazza Santa Croce*


For more information and to book, visit our website at: http://www.italy.artviva.com/winter_tour_specials_2005

English Theater Performances in Florence

The English Language Theater presents "The Butterfingers Angel, Mary, Joseph, Herod the Nut and the Slaughter of the 12 Hit Carols in a Pear Tree" for Christmas. Performances will be at 16:00 and 21:00 at the Teatro di Cestello in Piazza Cestello on December 13-15. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 055 239 9949 or visit www.florencetheater.com.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Celebrating Tuscany Day

Tuscany Day has been celebrated on November 30 each year since the Tuscan Region voted to establish it in 2001. The holiday marks the day that the Grand Duke of Tuscany abolished the death penalty in 1786. Tuscans proudly note that this was the first place in the world it was abolished. Many events and concerts are planned throughout the region. For more information, see www.firenze.net.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Growing Up As a Medici


Attention all kids! Come explore life in Florence during the Renaissance through the eyes of Lorenzo "The Magnificent" de Medici! Artviva continues it series of Kids' Treasure Hunts in English with a walking tour for kids ages 8-12 where they will learn how children lived in Florence during the Renaissance and visit the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi.


Join us for the Life in the Renaissance as a Medici Treasure Hunt, on Saturday, November 24 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. for 18 Euros per person plus 3.50 per child and 5 Euros per adult for museum entrance. Spaces are limited to 15. For more information and to book visit: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/florence_tuscany/florence_for_kids email staff@artviva.com or call 055.2645033.

English Christmas Fair in Florence

Join the British Institute at their Christmas Fair. There will be a selection of books, films, handmade crafts and festive food available. All proceeds will help support the Library at the British Institute. The Fair will be held on the ground floor of the Library – entry no.15 Lungarno Guicciardini on Friday, 30 November, from 15.00 to 18.00

Friday, October 19, 2007

Extraordinary Chance to See Hidden Art in Siena

Until October 27th you can be one of the few people to see the entire pavement inside the Duomo in Siena. The Cathedral floor is famously inlaid with mosaics representing virtues, sybils, allergories, and scenes from the Old Testament of the Bible, created between the 14th and 16 centuries. Usually only small portions of the floor are uncovered for viewing, so this is really a rare opportunity. While you are in the Duomo you'll also want to visit the gorgeous Pinturicchio frescoes in the Piccolomini Library, where illuminated manuscripts are also on display.

The Duomo is open from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm and is 6 Euros per person.

For a lovely day trip to both Siena and San Gimignano, see our "Best of Tuscany" tour at http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/tuscany_tour/best_of_tuscany.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Meet Traditional Tuscan Artisans


A new store in Florence called Maestri di Fabbrica features one-of-a-kind wares made by artisans from all over Tuscany. The beautifully frescoed Renaissance building provides a tranquil environment where you can meet directly with the artisans and hear about the traditional methods still used to make their products. Browse through beautiful objects made of glass, alabaster, copper, leather, and fabrics.

Maestri di Fabbrica is located at Borgo degli Albizzi, 68/r in Florence.

If the idea of meeting traditional artisans and learning about their centuries-old techniques sounds appealing to you, consider joining us on our Artisans Workshop Tour. For more information, see the Artviva website at: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/personalized_tours/private_artisans_tour_florence

Thursday, September 27, 2007

NEW! FLORENCE FOR KIDS - TREASURE HUNTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS


Artviva is pleased to announce a new series of Kids Tours throughout the school year. Children ages 8-12 explore and learn more about Florence while searching for its historical, cultural, and artistic "treasures". All tours will be conducted in English as educational and fun activities for the children of the English-speaking community. This is also a great opportunity for children currently studying English to utilize their classroom learning and gain more exposure to conversational English.

Tours will be held twice a month on Saturday afternoons for two hours from 15:00 to 17:00. There will be a total of 10 tours and two special events (currently planned as a Christmas baking course and Traditional Craft course on Paper Marbling). The first tour, the Florence for Kids Treasure Hunt, will be offered on October 20 FREE OF CHARGE (reservations in advance are necessary) Subsequent tours will cost 18 Euros plus the cost of museum tickets (if needed). You can subscribe to all nine tours at a discount, for a total of 144 Euros, plus museum tickets. The two special events will be priced separately.

Each tour is limited to a maximum of 15 participants, so advance booking is strongly advised. For more information or to make reservations, visit our website at: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/florence_tuscany/florence_for_kidsplease You can also contact us at 055.2645033, send an email to staff@artviva.com, or stop in our offices above the Odeon Theater at Via Sassetti 1, second floor. All tours depart from our office.

Tentative Schedule:
October 20: Florence for Kids Treasure Hunt FREE!
October 27: Sculpture Treasure Hunt in the Boboli Gardens
November 10: Dante Treasure Hunt
November 24: Life as a Medici in the Renaissance Treasure Hunt
December 8: Christmas Baking Special Events
February 9: Uffizi Treasure Hunt
February 23: David and the Life of Michelangelo Treasure Hunt
March 8: Traditional Crafts - Paper Marbling Special Event
March 29: Palazzo Vecchio- Children’s Museum Treasure Hunt
April 12: The Duomo Treasure Hunt
April 26: Artisan Visits Treasure Hunt
May 10: The Piazza as Playground Treasure Hunt

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuscan Yoga and Travel

Check out the May, 2007 issue of Yoga Magazine for a wonderful article called "A Florentine Fancy". Filled with tips and ideas on what to see and do in Florence, it also features a glowing review of our Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour. To read the article check out: www.yogamagazine.co.uk.

For more information on our Perfect Morning in Tuscany tour, visit our website at: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/tuscany_tour/perfect_morning_in_tuscany

Monday, September 17, 2007

Learn about Visiting Venice


Visit this great just published web site where travel journalist- Hal Trussell- describes through images, sound and voice over, the wonderfully atmospheric fish markets in Venice. See http://www.utellabout.com/venicerec3.html
Hal did a number of our tours in Venice , Florence and Tuscany and recommends them.
See the slide show at the home page of http://www.utellabout.com/ and click on the presentation marked 'Venice Fish'. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Explore the Gardens and Fountains of Florence





Get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Florence, from the scalding rays of Tuscan sun, into the magic world of gardens and the beautiful sculptures and fountains found within them. What better way to experience the changing of the seasons than with a private walk among the peaceful, historic outdoor retreats of the Florentines? For more information, visit our website at: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/personalized_tours/private_gardens_fountains_tour

Chianti, Tuscany Wine Harvest Event


Renewing Old Wine-Making Traditions

A number of years ago the citizens of Poggibonsi, Tuscany decided to celebrate the old tradition of “stomping” grapes in huge vats during the harvest. “The Pigio” was born - a competition of squeezing grapes involving all the seven districts of the city. Before the competition there is a parade interpreting historic scenes from the local festivities of the grape harvest. The contest takes place in the historic Piazza di' Gioco on the last Sunday in September. For more information see http://www.pigio.net/

Florence Off the Beaten Path




Museo della Natura Morta and the Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano (Ongoing)


Piazza de'Medici, 14


Poggio a Caiano, Tuscany




A maximum of 20 people are admitted every half hour to visit the Museum of Still Life paintings(the only of it's kind in the world). Passionately collected by four generations of the Medici family, it is housed in their summer residence a short distance outside of Florence. You can visit the grand rooms in the villa itself and the surrounding gardens every half hour before or after the visit to the museum. Both are free and open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Closed the second and third Monday of each month. For more information visit http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/

Fabulous Fall News for Wine Lovers




Good News for Lovers of Italian Wine
It looks like this years vintage is going to be one of the best for years
Burton Anderson, the most famous wine writer on Tuscan wines is available to lead fabulous wine tastings and wine tours for Artviva
See a link to a description of tours with Burton for more information: http://www.italy.artviva.com/italytravel_best_tours_tour/personalized_tours/wine_tuscany/burton_anderson_tasting
See the following links to articles for more information on the 2007 Vintage

A rare vintage: Could 2007's grape harvest become one of the greatest ever? The expectation is growing after the hottest summer for 400 years
By Peter Popham in Lazio
Published: 11 August 2007
http://www.independent.co.uk/living/food_and_drink/news/article2853804.ece


2007 is going to be a record year of grape harvest...
http://www.toscanaechiantinews.com/pagina.aspx?LNG=EN&ZON=&PAG=0409

2007 Italian Harvest Underway
Vintners optimistic after strong growing season, but cool, wet weather right after the start of picking is cause for concern

Jo Cooke
Posted: Friday, August 24, 2007
http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,3959,00.html

Italian Fashion and Style

Exhibition:

For those interested in fashion, a visit to the Costume Museum in the Pitti Palace is a great opportunity to see how clothing has evolved over the years. The current exhibition is “Fashion and style, Interpretations of fashion in history. (Ongoing)8.15 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Palazzo Pitti, Galleria del Costume, Tickets cost 6 Euros and also give you entrance to the Boboli and Bardini gardens, the Silver Museum, and the Museum of Porcelain, all within the Pitti Palace complex in Florence

Autumn Events in Florence and Tuscany


Enjoy the Fall Outdoors:

Soak up the last rays of sun before winter by visiting the special exhibit “The Ancient Gardens of Babylon in Rome” until October 28. Located in the Limonaia of the Boboli Gardens, the exhibition is open Monday-Sunday from 8:15–6:30 p.m. through the end of October. Tickets cost 9 Euro; the exhibit is closed the first and last Monday of the month. For more information visit http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/










Event and Street Party Data Base Italy

Visit Dan Hostetler's extensive online data base of events , street parties and festivals in Italy
See our web site for a list of seasonal monthly events on in Italy
at http://www.italy.artviva.com/essential_italy/essential_florence/events_in_florence_italy

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Winners Italy Travel Writing Competition

The winners of the Italy Travel Writing Competition are those that reached publication status on our blog below. Congratulations to all published entrants! All winners- please ensure you contact us with your correct mail address so we can post your prizes!

Long Lunch

"Long Lunch " Painting by Rick Everingham

Stable Door

"Stable Door " Painting by Rick Everingham

Tellaro Harbour

"Tellaro Harbour" painting by Rick Everingham, Italy

Red Door

"Red Door " Painting by Rick Everingham, Italy

Venice Corner

"Venice Corner" Painting by Rick Everingham

Hill Town Near Carrara

"Hill Town Near Carrara " Painting by Rick Everingham


Rick Everingham -Artist in Tuscany

Rick Everingham
Rick Everingham has been dreaming of Italy since 1977. That was the year of his first visit to Tuscany, the year that he decided Florence was the most beautiful city he'd ever seen. Everingham, an Australian native, has been a professional painter for 38 years (he has recently added sculpture to his repetoire). Italy has been his greatest inspiration and, since 1999, his adopted homeland. His paintings capture the heart and soul of the country through use of the simplest of images: a shady alleyway, an ancient bridge, the crumbling facade of a building in an idyllic Italian town. He paints the scenes he loves, the ones he sees all around him in his home in Tuscany and those glimpsed during his travels throughout Italy. In a world full of dark and troubling images, Everingham paints peaceful, life affirming scenes infused with light and color. His work is wonderfully evocative. “If I can paint a picture and it gives me the same feeling I had when I saw it for the first time, then I know it's right.” His work reminds us that there is, as Everingham says, “an abundance of simple beauty still in the world, waiting wherever we choose to find it.” He tells the story of an exhibition in Brisbane. An Italian woman walked into the gallery and stood in the middle of the room looking at his paintings. She burst into tears, saying, “They are so beautiful. They feel like home.” For Everingham, there could be no higher compliment.
You can view selected paintings and sculptures at the Walking Tours office at Via Sassetti, 1 in Florence. For more information please contact rose@artviva.com or see the exhibition on our web site at www.italy.artviva.com

Young, Innovative Hotelier Changes the Face of Florence's Luxury HotelsJK Place Florence

Young, Innovative Hotelier Changes the Face of Florence's Luxury Hotels

Just a few brief steps from Florence's famed Renaissance church, Santa Maria Novella, you'll find a discreet and elegant door of glass and carved wood, through which you'll enter JK Place, a hotel like no other. Ori Kaffrey, Florentine born hotelier, created the four star JK Place with a vision beyond that of the cliched luxury hotel. By incorporating impeccable service, unique design and a welcoming, gracious ambience, Kaffrey's hotel is beyond the ordinary, a truly special hospitality experience in which visitors feel as though they'd stepped into the home that they'd always dreamed of. Says Kaffrey, “At JK Place, our visitors don't feel like clients, they feel like guests, as if I were in my own home, personally inviting people in.” JK Place is Refined and elegant, but more importantly, warm, inviting and utterly unforgettable in its detailing and service. The design is timeless and classic with a contemporary twist: soothing beiges, grays, browns and whites with fresh flowers and the occasional vibrant print to catch the eye and lift the spirit. With only 20 rooms, and a staff of 24, including a professional concierge, JK Place excels in service. In fact, it is the foundation upon which Kaffrey built his hotel. “The real luxury,” he says, “Is the time we put into satisfying our guests' every desire. We are their guardian angels during their stay.” For Kaffrey, being a hotelier is not merely a job, it's a passion. Fortunately for us, he's taking that passion to new locales, he opened a second JK Palace in Capri in May and we can only hope that there are more to come.
For more information about Ori Kaffrey's marvelous hotels, please visit the JK Place website at : www.jkplace.com

Summer 2007 Newsletter

Welcome to the summer issue of the Walking Tours Newsletter! Glorious summer, or the bella stagione as it is known in Italy, has finally arrived! The days are warm and sunny and the nights are perfect for an evening stroll along the cobbled streets. The city's museums, including the Galleria Accademia, home to Michelangelo's David, and the Uffizi Gallery - world's largest collection of Renaissance art - have extended their opening hours. Outdoor events abound: jazz, classical music and rock concerts under the stars as well as exhibits and readings. And that's just within the city limits, the surrounding countryside bursts to life in the summer months. The Chianti Festival offers a wealth of outdoor plays and concerts. Food festivals called sagre give you a chance to sample each village's local delicacies . There's no better time to visit vineyards for wine tastings and to see some of Italy's most breathtaking scenery.You'll need a place to rest your head after all of that sight seeing, and Florence's hotels are better than ever. Below you can read interviews with a fascinating hotelier, whose vision and innovation led him to create one of Florence's most unique, and beautiful, hotels . You'll also find an interview with Rick Everingham, an extraordinary contemporary painter.We hope to see you soon! In the meantime, don't forget to visit out website at http://www.italy.artviva.com/ for all of our latest tours and services. Let us help you to create the vacation of a lifetime.

Friday, June 29, 2007

NEWS Longer Museum Summer Opening Times Florence

Beginning in July and ending in September both the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery will extend their hours until 10pm on select Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Uffizi Gallery will remain open until 10:00pm every Tuesday beginning July 3 and the Accademia Gallery will be open until 10:00pm each Friday beginning July 6.

(The museum will be open until 10:00pm on Saturday September 22 as it will be closed on on Friday 21 September).

Make a reservation for our Masterpeices of the Uffizi Gallery Tour or our Original David Tour to avoid waits on long lines.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Artviva July 2007 Italy Travel Writing Competition:Michael L. Baum







Our Trip to Italy, April 17 to May 8, 2007

It was an experience. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Well, actually, our experience was the world, or at least a small part of it – an exciting, beautiful, mesmerizing part of it: Italy – from Rome and Ostia Antica, then northwards to Florence, Pisa, Siena, Venice, Padua, Verona, Bergamo, and Milan – a three-week adventure filled with great art, grand and small churches, fantastic museums, tasty food and enjoyable eating, friendly people, old friends, new acquaintances, wonderful surprises, and more.
My wife Prosper and I flew overnight from San Francisco and landed at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on April 18. From there, we took a taxi to our hotel. Roberto, our taxi driver, was very informative as he pointed out some sights along the way. Roberto said he had won Mr. Italy and Mr. Universe titles years before becoming a taxi driver. True or not, Roberto was our first experience with the delightful, friendly, and helpful Italian people.
April 19 was our first full day in Italy, and we took guided tours of the Coliseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. Knowledgeable tour company co-owner Maximiliano led the Coliseum tour, and his well informed and delightfully wisecracking employee Paola took us through the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.
The following day, we took a guided tour of Vatican City. Paola led us through the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica and Square.
The art in the museum was unbelievably beautiful; the painted ceilings were especially impressive; the church was huge and ornate; and the square and the Bernini colonnades surrounding it on two sides were magnificent.
The Sistine Chapel: What can I say? How can I describe it? I do know I could feel the elation in my chest as I entered this chapel. To be in the presence of this masterpiece was an honor and a gift.
Several other times in Italy I had that feeling in my chest when I knew I was to be in the presence of great art, most notably when I felt the anticipation of standing in the serene light of Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel frescoes in Padua and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper in Milan at the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. I felt physical changes inside my chest, and my eyes watered slightly as I approached the entrances to these gifts to the world. I was overwhelmed.
It is hard to believe that human minds, hearts, and hands could create some of what we saw, especially the sculptures. I can understand a painter putting his conception of a great religious or other event on a wall, a board, or a canvas, but for a sculptor to carve from a block of marble or other stone, the muscles, the veins, the strength in the eyes, the tension in the body – of a David, or a Christ, or some other figure – that is truly amazing.
We stayed in Rome for six days, and as we traveled around this great city, I kept saying, “It gets better and better” every time we walked inside another church, whether the outside was grand, ornate, plain, or even unattractive. We often found treasures by acknowledged masters (Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, Caravaggio, and so on) or by “lesser” artists.
At Rome’s Church of St. Peter in Chains, we saw Michelangelo’s bold and forceful Moses statue. We also looked at the statues of Rachel and Leah that flank Moses. The author of our Italy travel guide says the statues of these women are “unfinished,” but I could not tell; perhaps Michelangelo had not yet sculpted some veins in their faces (he was that talented!).
At Rome’s Trevi Fountain, Prosper and I threw coins in the fountain. Tradition holds that someone who throws a coin into this fountain is guaranteed to return to Rome. I hope that holds true for us.
We saw only a small portion of what the cities and towns we visited had to offer. But Prosper and I were happy to see what we did with our limited time in bella Italia. I wanted our dream trip to Italy to be an enjoyable, memorable, and relaxing experience that would not exhaust us, one in which we took our time without feeling we had to see it all, so that we could enjoy a particular sight or place or event by lingering and absorbing what we saw. I think I accomplished that goal.
At the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, we lingered in front of Bernini’s St. Teresa in Ecstasy sculpture. How anyone can sculpt a block of marble into such transcendent beauty is a mystery to me. I don’t know if there is a god, but if there is, maybe what some people say about the greats (Mozart, the divine Michelangelo, and others.) is true: their talent is a gift from God.
In Rome, I renewed my friendship with several Italian friends I had met in San Francisco thirty years ago. Prosper met them for the first time when we joined them for their wonderful cooking and hospitality at their home in Rome.
Rome was energetic and exciting, with automobiles, ambulances, police cars, motorcycles, and motor scooters madly careening down the streets; people filling the sidewalks; and restaurants, shops, and street kiosks selling their goods. Prosper and I really liked Rome. But Rome was but one of many stops on our tour.
We visited Ostia Antica, a now uninhabited ancient Roman port city. The fact that its buildings are in ruins does not denigrate the interesting historical significance and visual elegance of the place.
Highlights of our stay in Florence included a trip to the Accademia, where we sat in awe of the David statue by Michelangelo. What a great legacy Michelangelo (and other Renaissance geniuses) left behind for the world. We also took a walking tour of Florence (our guide, Emiko, was delightful and knowledgeable and introduced us to the glories of this important city). On our own, we saw the Massacio frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel; several outdoor markets (Prosper touched the nose of the Il Porcellino bronze pig statue – does this guarantee Prosper a return trip to Florence some day?); a famous 3-D painting by Massacio inside the Church of Santa Maria Novella; and the Uffizi’s great collection of Italian art.
In Pisa, of course we saw the Leaning Tower, one of the several structures in the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). In Pisa’s Baptistery (the largest in Italy), we heard the security guard “harmonize” with himself with the aid of echoes in this acoustically gifted building (this is done every half hour while the Baptistry is open, starting at 10 am, and we stayed long enough to listen twice).
In Siena, we visited the Duomo and again found ourselves at a magnificent church. I think I looked at it and said, “unbelievable” (a word I used often during our trip). We also spent time in the large public square (Il Campo), people watching, relaxing, and snacking on panforte.
In Venice, we visited St. Mark’s Square twice; strolled through the Jewish Ghetto, the oldest in Europe (where I put on tefillin and prayed in Hebrew); explored Venice’s wide streets, tiny alleyways, and Grand Canal (the latter on the vaporetto water boat); and took a trip to the glass-making Murano Island.
In Padua, we toured the University of Padua; enjoyable the colorful vendor stalls at the Piazza delle Erbe; spent 40 minutes inside the Scrovegni Chapel soaking up the power of Giotto’s beautiful and evocative frescoes covering the life of Mary and Christ on the side walls, and his Last Judgment on the back wall; and unexpectedly – and happily – attended church services in the Basilica of Saint Anthony (not rushing on our trip allowed us to adjust our schedule to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities when they presented themselves).
In Verona, we strolled along its ritzy shopping street and walked elsewhere in town. Even with the rain we encountered, it was still fun going around this charming town.
In Bergamo, we took a funicular to get to the Alta Citta (Old City) on the hill. We walked the Old City streets, passing bakeries, pizza and other restaurants, and shops. One of the best dinners we had on our trip was in the Old City.
In Milan, we went inside the magnificent Duomo and also took an elevator to its roof, where we walked among the amazing statues and spires. We saw da Vinci's The Last Supper, and on a ritzy shopping street, we looked in shop windows at clothes we could not afford to buy, but were fun to look at anyway.

Oh, the food! In Rome’s Chinatown, Prosper and I found the oldest gelateria in Rome. We each had a “small” cone, but the 1.50 Euro each price still gave both Prosper and me two sizeable scoops of gelato (I had strawberry and pistachio) plus one scoop of whipped cream on top. It’s a good thing we were walking many miles per day to stay “even” weight-wise (or so we hoped!).
Pizza – pasta – panforte – bread – calzone – gelato – panini – dolce – polenta – risotto con asparagi – and more. Bread on the table before many meals, good pizza and pasta, lots of sweets and ice cream, and taking our time to enjoy it all – this was our eating adventure in Italy for three weeks.

We met some very nice and interesting people in Italy. To meet people, all I had to do was be outgoing and start conversations with strangers. This led to many enjoyable interactions. For example, while we were having dinner at a Florence restaurant, I used my only fair Italian language skills to ask a question of a lady who was resetting one of the tables. That little bit of opening up led to us making the acquaintance of a delightful group of family members in this family-owned and -operated restaurant.
Also in Florence, an older woman who was our waitress for lunch, learning that we were from the United States (naturally I told her this Italian), spontaneously told us (in Italian) that she liked Americans, that she had been to the American cemetery in Florence not many days earlier, and that she was grateful to the Americans who crossed the Arno River in World War II and helped liberate Italy.
In Pisa, a group of kids on a school field trip were playing on grassy field near the Duomo in the Campo dei Miracoli. When I got out my camera and started to ask them (in Italian) if I could take their picture, one little girl was the first to notice me, and when I said I wanted “a picture for the United States,” she smiled, and the other kids heard me, and all of a sudden they all ran together and formed a great group in what seemed like an instant, and they were yelling and screaming and smiling and posing and raising their hands and making V signs with their fingers. I have a wonderful photograph as a memory of that sweet event. Just think: a bunch of happy kids in a photograph I will treasure, just from a couple of words I spoke about taking their picture to take to the United States.

Italy: The art and architecture are magnificent; the food delicious; and the people outgoing, friendly, and helpful. If I had to choose one of these as my favorite experience, it probably would be the people. They brought Italy to life and added an unexpected but welcome addition to what we had already planned to do on our trip. I would like to take trips to other places, but our trip to Italy was so wonderful, that returning home on May 8 was too soon, and I would like to return. Ciao, Italia. We will be back.
Michael L. Baum



Artviva July 2007 Italy Travel Writing Competition: Rebbeca Bell

Italia Thoughts

Tuscany will take your heart, tear it up and leave you coming back for more. I promise, you will return home, aching for the cappuccino, the wine and the bluest sky you've ever seen. How it happens exactly, I cannot say, but I can attest to it myself.

Never mind the late or cancelled trains (causing you to be stranded in a town several miles from your destination), the strikes, the unpredictable store hours or internet unavailability. Upon your homecoming you will ask others, and will find that they too were sorry they left.

"Why did you return to the States?" you'll inquire, and receive one dutiful answer after another: "I came back for my cousin's wedding," one said, "I only had two weeks off from work," (a likely story) and "I spent all my money," (an easy thing to do there). And why did I return? My plane was booked and I had to catch it. Yes, another dutiful answer and one I wholeheartedly regret.

I should have stayed there, soaking up the Tuscan sun and olive oil. I didn’t even get to Venice or Rome; I spent 12 days in the olive groves. I lived like a local, stopping at the piazza café/bar for a cappuccino in the morning and a glass of el vino rossa in the evening. I made friends and, yes, even a lover. I took day trips to the nearby towns, sampled bits of local flavor and watched the Mediterranean Sea crash on the shore.




A palpable life force dominates in Italy -- a vitality that fills you up, more than you knew you could be; but then leaves you empty of all your red blood upon your return to the States. An old saying resonates: Italians have two veins; one for café and one for vino. I wonder, can a displaced Americano have this too?

“This is Italy,” becomes a phrase you will hear often. They do things on their time and in their own way. Don’t expect to change it. “Go with the flow,” may be a phrase you should recite from time to time. Especially, if oh, the last train is cancelled and you find out later from the locals - to never trust the last train. Don’t expect to find a store open between 1-4PM, that they will actually open at the time stated, or a train schedule ANYWHERE! Most Italians will be friendly with you if you try speaking in their tongue; but, especially in Tuscany, charades may be your only choice.



Aside from mere trivialities, Italy really is what you've heard:
The romance. Where else can you have a barbecue at a 500 year old villa located in an olive grove, and pluck fresh rosemary and sage from the adjoining fields to throw on the grill? Where else is the view so charming and the men so disarming? A word to the wise: do not let your guard down; you can fall in love easily. I’m warning you, upon your return to the States, your heart will feel displaced for quite some time. (Not speaking from experience, of course!)


The language. Is there any language more beautiful? The Italian spoken today was specifically chosen from the region of Tuscany because it was the closest and best sounding of all the dialects that dominated each region. In the 14th Century they realized they needed a national language and so chose the one you hear today for its eloquence and ease of ear. The wine. Even if you don't like wine, you'll like it in Italy. Not much to say here, you have to taste it for yourself; but a bit too much will not end in a headache --you won’t even get drunk! (Unless you try really hard!)
Of course, the olives. Olive groves, olive oil, olives, they are all in abundance. So fresh, velvety and delicious! Indulge, your skin will thank you for all the polyphenols and antioxidants. The trees themselves are quite captivating. Don’t expect to get much shade under these ancient beauties, their silvery leaves twist and turn to reflect the light.

Lastly, the sky. This is truly the best part. A sky so blue, so deep, so luscious, so close you could step up into it and so low, it covers the mountains like a blanket. Look to the sky every day. You will be amazed; never have I seen a sky like that. I would return just to gaze into it. Ah, to see a sky like that in Columbus, Ohio!



There is much to say, but you need to experience it for yourself. Suck the marrow out of life; it’s easy to do there. There will be stressors, like the trains, the strikes, the store closures during siesta, but go knowing that Italy will embrace you and slap your hand all at the same time.

And, you will come back for more.

Rebecca Bell

Artviva July 2007 Italy Travel Writing Competition: Julia Speht











Sorrento Beyond Summer (for the Gourmet)

My partner and I love to escape for a cheap winter break in January and in previous years we’ve picked up a package deal to Egypt or similar sunny collapse-and-sleep type places. This year, we went in search of culture, gourmet food and mountainous views in Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

As package deals out of season were not an option, we made our own DIY holiday combining four nights in a mountain farmhouse with views over the Bay of Naples, with three nights eating our way through the gourmet food of an international cookery school in Sant’Agata village on the outskirts of Sorrento.

We’re not sunbathers so the daily temperatures of Southern Italy (15-20 degrees) appealed, particularly as we planned visits to both Pompeii and Herculaneum, but didn’t much fancy trudging through the dusty ruins in glaring heat. In fact we had the ruins almost to ourselves: no queues; no noisy school groups; and no elbows or rucksacks in my Roman photographs. It made the experience much more enjoyable, especially in Herculaneum where on our way back to the train station we stumbled across a local wine shop selling home-made strawberry wine for €4.00 which was naturally sparkling and deceptively strong, but washed down the chocolate panettone perfectly on our return train journey.

We were surprised though to find ourselves on the sunny beach with a light breeze in Amalfi eating ice-creams in mid-January! However it seemed that this was not warm enough for the mainstream, because we were delighted to find availability for anything – and everything – we wanted to book. This drove the price down considerably, and we found ourselves scooping up bargains as tourists were few and far between.

We had no problems either booking into our favourite agritourismo farmhouse apartment in the Priora hills - 2km north of Sorrento - following a lemon-grove walk up the hill with glimpses of the sea, curving its way around the rocky cliffs into the distance. The owners always stock the kitchen with their own farm produce depending on season: I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be growing on the 19th January as back in blighty we had frosts and rain downpours. When we arrived, however the fruit bowl was overflowing with fresh oranges, huge lemons, misshapen pears and apples. The fridge revealed locally-produced cheese and butter, large eggs, home-cured ham and freshly baked bread with a hint of cumin. The usual staples of home grown onions, giant garlic and bushes of basil were still there, as were the jars of hand-picked tomatoes, passata and peppers. We revelled in this find and devoured a feast on our terrace overlooking the bay of Naples, as the lights twinkled in the sunset and white crests of waves flickered back at us until we couldn’t see anything except the lights of ships fading out to sea.

With aching calf muscles after four days of hiking up and down the lemon-grove hill from Priora, we had begun to feel at home in this sleepy hillside village: nodding hello to the neighbouring farms as we strolled past in the morning; listening to the church bells of afternoon mass as we clamboured back up the hill in the evening, clutching the treasures we had bought from the market during the day. The owners – Gina and Marco – had a new puppy which had also taken a liking to us and would greet us in the morning as we set out breakfast on the terrace to enjoy the view.

By the second day our relationship had progressed to the stage where the puppy was following us down the hill as far as the church, then barking a goodbye. On the last day, she had followed us almost a mile into the centre of Sorrento and we feared for her safety, having no lead or method of persuading her to return home. In the city centre she ran off down a side street, leaving us to ponder her all day, haunted by visions of her being run over by maniac motorbikes or a flashy sports car. Of course, as we reached the apartment at 10pm that night, she was waiting to greet us outside the door. As we bade farewell the following morning to Gina and Marco, they just shrugged at this and offered us a drink of home made Perno – this was a kind of liqueur made of fennel and incredibly strong. It was quite difficult to manage at 11am, but the result was a surprisingly warm sensation and strength of flavour that lasted for hours.

They enquired politely as to our plans, and we described our next B&B and planned trip to Naples on the train, to taste “real” pizza Neapolitan style. Marco thought this was very strange, and a long way to travel pizza. Why hadn’t we said so earlier? We could have joined their family on Friday nights, when they always have home-made pizza and bake the fresh bread for the following week. We looked sheepish, feeling like extravagant foolish tourists with more money than sense, and promised to return another year when we could participate in the Friday ritual.

On this occasion however, we had already booked into the famous International cookery school, Mami Camilla bed and breakfast with a discount package including dinner and a cookery class.

This turned out to be a real bargain as dinner was an orgasmic four-course affair of home-made delicacies from fresh local produce which the International chef and his team of students have spent the afternoon preparing with dedication and enthusiasm.




My day’s cookery class was exciting and delicious, with students scribbling down notes, and deliveries of fresh local ingredients interrupting regularly. It was clear that the head chef had many friends at wholesalers and suppliers, as well as famous restaurants in the city, when freshly made cheese, eggs and vegetables arrived with uproar, banter and exchanging of drinks. We learnt to make fairly complicated recipes and could taste, smell and touch throughout the afternoon which I found very enjoyable. I was one of six students and we all watched the hulking Italian head chef in awe as he explained every move in detail and invited us to copy various elements of the dishes – rolling the gnocchi; lining the soufflé cases; filling the cranoli baskets; whisking the becemal sauce etc.

Further interruptions came from the chef’s family – loud arguments with his wife, which usually ended in doors being slammed; excitable exchanges with his son and telephone exclamations with his daughter. These were all accompanied by arm waving and expletives in Italian, but usually included loud laughter and hilarity, whilst the six students desperately tried to hold together lumpy cheese sauce and overflowing vegetable pans until he returned, and with one wave of his hand, silenced the bubbling and panic.

Our first night treated us to Cauliflower soufflé, meatball lasagne, Bresola of Veal, followed by Sicilian cranoli for desert, washed down with local wine at 5 euros a carafe. Sitting round the communal dinner table with the other guests and cookery students from all over the world, we felt very much at home in the Italian family’s traditional house. At nearly midnight we made our excuses from the table and picked our way through the private lemon groves to our farmhouse apartment to sleep, until the roosters woke us the next day with the pouring sunlight into our rustic bedroom.

But our gourmet pilgrimage was not yet complete: we had found details of a local restaurant on the Internet that claimed to be a member of the “Slow Food Movement” in Sant’Agata, a small village 7 km inland from Sorrento. The restaurant, “Lo Stuzzichino” is known to locals as a low-key rustic place, playing second fiddle to the much revered “Don Alfonso” restaurant on the same road – “now that is the good restaurant in Sant’Agata!” our hosts confirmed. Yes, with three Michelin stars it ought to be. But our twenty minuets bus ride was worth more than just the spectacular views across the two gulfs (of Naples and Salerno), and the cute mountain village life in quaint Sant’Agata, with crumbly church bells pealing out in the hazy sunlight of the afternoon. Elderly ladies tottered through the cobbled streets with small dogs and shopping bags of groceries; although the small row of shops only seemed to stock lingerie, hand-made chocolates or cakes.

We walked past the prestigious sign for Don Alfonso (since 1890) to see that he too, was taking advantage of “low season” to make major renovations to the building. With delight, we scurried onto the cosy, “rustic” haven of Lo Stuzzichino with the walls covered in photographs of the staff in various states of merriment, and with certificates of award or thank you letters from food critics. Here we sank into our wicker-spun chairs for the mouth-watering marathon that followed, with time suspended in a delicious equilibrium of perfection and relaxation. Our waiter, a qualified sommelier, spoke melodic English and recommended the daily specials which we accepted without blinking. Over the next three hours we savoured delicious home made local specialities such as bruschetta, fresh seafood linguine; peasant’s potato pasta soup; local cheeses and home made cheesecake for desert. All this at extremely reasonable prices (we paid less than 20 Euros a head for a four course meal with wine and liqueurs and coffees) in a warm homely restaurant which was also bustling, romantic, and full of locals enjoying their village treasure.

In fact, we were the only English speakers in Sant’Agata that day; and on most days during our holiday – relaxing in itself. In Sorrento, where the main hotels were closed and the tacky cafes offering menus touristicos were shut for the winter, we found ourselves walking the passiegata with the locals. More importantly we didn’t feel hassled or hustled. Even if we were recognised as English, we weren’t treated as tourists, but with a friendly, curious welcome.



Our day trip out to Amalfi, as hair-raising as ever along the zig-zag hairpin bends of the mountainous route in the cliffs, was also a private exclusive pleasure with just the six of us on the local bus. The only crowds in Amalfi were the stream of teenagers pouring out of the local school at lunchtime: noisy, excitable, dapper. And the smart gathering of a local wedding on the steps of the famous, awe-inspiring Duomo in the main square. We felt privileged to have been allowed this insight into daily Italian life, so often obscured by “O Sole Mio” ice cream sellers, particularly in this beauty spot where wealthy travellers have been holidaying for centuries.

It seems that all the iconic parts of Italian holidays: food, scenery, culture, climate can be best enjoyed away from the madding crowd, but not by choosing obscure locations and missing world-class heritage, but by braving the winter weather and seeing this delicious country “at rest” away from the glare of the usual tourist season.


Julia Speht. 30.01.07.
Flights
Ryan Air from Gatwick to Naples, Sunday flights, £55 each including taxes.
Pink Elephant car parking (long stay) £36 for one week, Gatwick airport.

Mami Camille B&B
Via Cocumella, 4. tel. 00.39.081.8782067. Info@mamicamilla.com
http://www.Mami.camilla.com

The “Winter Special” costs 320 Euros for a double room, bed, breakfast and 4 course evening meal (for 2 people) for 3 nights; or 260 Euros for a single. This includes an activity (Excursion to the Amalfi coast or a cookery lesson with the International chef, Longo Biagini)

Lo Stuzzichino Restaurant
Via Deserto 1/A, S.Agata sui due golf
Massalubrense, Tel. 081.5330010. www.ristorantelostuzzichino

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Original and Best Walking Tour Company in Venice



Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. - Truman Capote

Truer words were never spoken. Venice is decadent, rich and wonderful. A visit there leaves you feeling as though you’d indulged in something marvelous. We’ve all seen the postcards and documentaries but they just don’t do it justice. I first saw Venice in the early morning surrounded by a light fog. It took my breath away – and it still does.

No one knows Venice better than its most famous son – a nobleman and architect who hosted a famous documentary series on the city of his birth. He lives in a palace on the Grand Canal and has a family tree that spans 1,000 years. He once jumped in one of the canals just to prove that the water was clean! Of course, he won’t ask you to do that but by booking an afternoon with him through one of our Artviva Exclusive Experiences, you’ll see Venice in a way most visitors only dream of. It’s an unforgettable experience that you’ll find exclusively with Artviva.
Of course, we offer a wide range of fun and informative tours in Venice, including the Original Venice Walk.

Last but not least, I couldn’t very well end my discussion about Venice without mentioning gondolas. Maybe you think they’re a little cliché – but trust me, a gondola ride is one of those must-do things in life. Imagine sailing down the Grand Canal at sunset flanked by majestic palaces on either side. You’ll see the city from a whole new perspective! Now, thanks to a lot of hard work and persistence, Venice has it’s first female gondolier- Alexandra Hai. It took Ms.
Hai 10 years break into the all male Venice Gondoliers Association (talk about an old boy’s club)! But her love for the city, and for the art of being a gondolier carried her through to victory. Look out for her as you wend you way down the canals, and don’t forget to check out the Artviva website to find out more about the best Venice tours in town.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Artviva Newsletter Spring April 2007


Spring Fever, Italian Style

Italians are outdoor people, not in sporty sort of way (although they do ski but I think that’s just because of the outfits and the sunglasses) - it’s just that they just love being outside. In the warmer months, I sometimes wonder why anyone even bothers having a house at all. As soon as April hits, the whole country heads outside, to eat, drink talk and just generally soak in the beauty of the bella stagione (the beautiful season). People begin to linger just a little longer over their after work apperitivo, after dinner they gather in the nearest piazza. As you walk the streets the night air is filled with ringing laughter and animated conversation. I can only describe the collective mood as delighted, as if the entire nation had let out a collective giggle.

And oh, the countryside! There’s nothing like watching the earth suddenly come to life before your eyes. Everything is in full, lush bloom. The hillsides are impossibly green, dotted with explosions of yellow, red and lavender that take your breath away.

I’m reminded of the film that made me decide to visit Italy for the first time, Enchanted April. Set in the 1920s, it follows the adventures of four dispirited English women as they leave behind dreary old England for a rented villa in Tuscany. The film manages to be both poignant and laugh out loud funny. The performances are stellar- although the Tuscan spring steals the show. I guarantee it‘ll lift your spirits, and probably send you running to your travel agent.

Experience our great tours of Italy, reserve now at www.italy.artviva.com

Until next week …

Gourmet Corner Artviva Newsletter Spring April 2007


Restaurant? Theater? Private Club?

Florence’s Teatro del Sale is one of a kind. First there’s the chef, Fabio Picchi, culinary legend and original chef of the famous Cibreo restaurant. Then, of course, there’s the food. Picchi’s menu of traditional Tuscany fare changes every night. Teatro del Sale is delightfully informal, with buffet style service and an open kitchen so you can watch the master at work. Picchi himself calls out the dishes as they are ready. Come hungry because he hates to see leftovers!

As if that weren’t enough, at 9:30 on the dot Teatro del Sale transforms from restaurant to theater. Every night offers something different: poetry, jazz or classic music or theatrical performances. And here’s where the private club bit comes in. Teatro del Sale is a cultural association; in order to dine there you must complete a membership card and pay a one time 5 Euro fee. In addition to enjoying sumptuous meals for next to nothing (the price of the evening buffet is just 23 Euro and that includes the show!) members can drop in anytime to sip a caffe while lounging on the comfy sofas.

Teatro del Sale is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and again from 6:00 pm to midnight. Reservations are recommended. For more information, visit their website at www.teatrodelsale.it

See you there!

Teatro del Sale

Via dei Macchi, 111r, Florence

055 2001492

Artviva Solving the Da Vinci Mystery


Solving the World’s Greatest Art Mystery

Our super sleuth is none other than world famous art detective Maurizio Seracini - now on the verge of uncovering the Battle of Anghiari, Leonardo da Vinci’s missing masterpiece.

The story begins in Florence at the height of the Renaissance. Da Vinci was asked to fresco the walls of Palazzo Vecchio in 1505 and painted the astounding Battle of Anghiari. Eyewitnesses described the painting as ‘miraculous’. 50 years later, what may be the world’s greatest masterpiece vanished under Vasari’s brush strokes as he frescoed the very same wall.

Maurizio Seracini, engineer and passionate art conservationist began his search for the painting in 1975. Some 25 years later, he discovered a tiny cavity in the wall on which the Vasari fresco was painted.
Could it be that instead of destroying da Vinci’s masterpiece, Vasari simply built a dummy wall on which to paint his own fresco? Seracini says yes, and so do many of those who’d originally dismissed his quest as a fool’s errand. Now, with financial support from the Guinness family and the all-important green light from Florence’s ministry of culture, Seracini is preparing to prove to the world that the Battle of Anghiari does indeed exist.

With an Artviva Exclusive Experience, you can spend an afternoon with Seracini himself. You‘ll see all of Florence’s greatest art treasures and, of course, the site of the soon to be discovered Battle of Anghiari.
Log onto our website at www.italy.artviva.com for more information on booking your Artviva Exclusive Experience.

Welcome to the Artviva Blog!

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Welcome to the Artviva Blog!
If you’re reading our blog, chances are you already know a little bit about us, if not, read on:

Artviva: The Original and Best Walking Tours, located in the heart of Florence, Italy is a company like no other.
Our tours are the best in the business, - dramatic, informative, laugh out loud funny and just a wee bit irreverent. Our guides are dynamic, passionate art history scholars who speak perfect English. Customer service is our number one priority. The Artviva office staff are native English speakers who are always ready with a smile and some helpful advice.

Artviva offers services in Florence, Rome, Venice and Tuscany. We’ll be your guides to 3,000 years of Rome’s tumultuous history. We’ll show you how Florence became one of the greatest art centers in history. We’ll take you biking through the Tuscan hills and wine tasting in the Veneto. We’ve created a truly special line of tours called Artviva Exclusive Experiences in which Italian nobility, scholars, chefs will share their vast expertise in intimate, once in a lifetime encounters unique to Artviva. Did we mention that we’re recommended by Michael Palin, Rick Steves, Time Magazine, Departures and many more? And we have been seen on BBC World, Discovery Channel and History Channel as well as Travelchannel.
To find out more about us or to make a reservation, log onto our website at http://www.italy.artviva.com/

We look forward to seeing you in Italia!

Artviva Events in Italy Newsletter April 2007


Events in Italy
Opera Festival - Lyric Festival of Tuscany, 2007
Immagine yourself seeing Tosca performed at a Medici villa in the Tuscan countryside where Lorenzo "Il Magnifico" used to receive famous philosophers, writers, and artists. Or watching the ground-breaking dance company Momix perform to Peter Gabriel's Passion in grandest Italian garden in the world? Have you ever dreamed of hearing the haunting strains of Ravel's Bolero in a medieval abbey in the hills near Siena?
This summer you can see lavish productions of classic operas, dance, and lyric works in these three spectacular locations (each within or less than an hour from Florence): The Boboli Gardens in Firenze, The Abbey of San Galgano in Chiusdino, and the Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo near Barberino di Mugello. We can't think of a more memorable way to spend a summer evening under the stars in Tuscany!

You can purchase your tickets through the Festival's online reservation system at: www.festivalopera.it. Simply choose "Entra" and then "Biglietteria" from the menu on the right hand side. You will then have the option of viewing the reservations page in English.

2007 Festival Schedule
June
12 Tues 21:15 Opera-Tosca Florence-Boboli Gardens
19 Tues 21:00 Opera-Rigoletto Chiusdino-Abbey of San Galgano
22 Fri 21:00 Opera-Rigoletto Chiusdino-Abbey of San Galgano
23 Sat 21:00 Orchestra-Beethoven Chiusdino-Abbey of San Galgano
26 Tues 21:15 Opera-Tosca Florence-Boboli Gardens
29 Fri 21:00 Opera-Tosca Barberino-Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo

July
3 Tues 21:15 Opera-Rigoletto Florence-Boboli Gardens
6 Fri 21:00 Opera-Carmina Burana Barberino-Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo
Orchestra-Bolero
10 Tues 21:15 Opera-La Traviata Florence-Boboli Gardens
11 Wed 21:15 Opera-Tosca Florence-Boboli Gardens
13 Fri 21:00 Opera-Carmina Burana Barberino-Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo
Orchestra-Bolero
17 Tues 21:15 Opera-Tosca Florence-Boboli Gardens
18 Wed 21:15 Opera-Carmina Burana Florence-Boboli Gardens
Orchestra-Bolero
20 Fri 21:00 Opera-Rigoletto Barberino-Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo
23 Mon 21:15 Dance-Momix Florence-Boboli Gardens
24 Tues 21:15 Dance-Momix Florence-Boboli Gardens
25 Wed 21:15 Opera-Tosca Florence-Boboli Gardens
25 Wed 21:00 Piano-Stefano Bollani Chiusdino-Abbey of San Galgano
28 Sat 21:00 Opera-Tosca Chiusdino-Abbey of San Galgano
31 Tues 21:15 Opera-Rigoletto Florence-Boboli Gardens

August
2 Thu 21:15 Opera-La Traviata Florence-Boboli Gardens
3 Fri 21:00 Opera-Tosca Barberino-Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo
7 Tues 21:15 Opera-Rigoletto Florence-Boboli Gardens

Artviva Italy Travel Writing Competition


Artviva Italy Travel Writing Competition
We would also like to announce our Artviva Italy Travel Writing competition for online blogs, articles, comments and diaries of your travels to Italy. The winners will be announced in July 2007, prizes will include delicious hampers of Italian wine and gourmet products as well as artisan ‘made in Italy’ gifts.
Guidelines for the 2007 Artviva Italy Travel Writing Competition

Talented travel writers are invited to write to us with interesting travel stories based in Italy. Entries can be fiction or non fiction. Accompanying photos are welcome as are photojournalistic approaches

Artviva will publish any acceptable entries on our web site www.italy.artviva.com and on the Artviva blog site. The top five winners' will receive delicious gourmet hampers and artisan goods to the value of 250 Euro, the ten runners up will receive the same to the value of 100 Euro. There is a special prize for the funniest Italy travel adventure (fiction or non-fiction) of a gourmet hamper and artisan goods to the value of 300 Euro.

Submit your travel writing- from 250 words up to maximum 2, 000 words with supporting photos in .jpg or .gif format . To enter email your travel writing to rose@artviva.com

Include your full name, complete postal address and phone number. Type "Travel Writing Comp. Entry” in the subject description of the email.

The contest ends June 21st 2007 and all entries must be received by June 1st 2007. Artviva reserves the right to publish all submissions deemed appropriate.

Artviva will judge entries based on literary quality and the ability to delight and engage readers as well as making us have a good chuckle- where appropriate!
Winners will be chosen on or about June 30th 2007 and will be notified by phone and or e-mail by July 10 2007. Winners will be announced on the web site www.italy.artviva. com and Artviva blog site after July 10th.

Entry is free. We reserve the right to not publish any material we consider not suitable, or to edit or change as necessary. Decisions of the judges are final. Artiva is not responsible for entries/emails not received. Artviva will not be held responsible for any submissions held to be counterfeit, fraudulent or infringing rights. All submissions will be considered made by the email sender account holder submitted at the time of entry.
Entrants must take responsibility to ensure that entries are their own original work and do not breach any rights. Entrants grant the right to Artviva to use submissions in part or in entirety. Entrants acknowledge that no payment will be forthcoming for entries. Entrance into the competition is deemed acceptance of the above terms.

Newsletter April Spring 2007 Artviva

Spring by Botticelli
Hear all about Botticelli and see it on our 'Masterpeices of the Uffizi Gallery ' Tour
It’s spring in Florence!

Here at Artviva The Original and Best Walking Tours we’ve spent the long winter months gearing up for our best season yet!


2007 holds a lot in store. This newsletter will continue to be your source for quick news on the latest developments at Artviva. For those of you who really like to keep your finger on the pulse, look out for our new weekly blog. This Blog will include even more news about Artviva, events in Florence, reviews on the best places to eat, drink and shop and interviews with some of the amazing people we collaborate with, one of whom happens to be this month’s Italian Genius.


Maurizio Seracini, engineer and world famous art detective, is on the verge of discovering what may be the greatest masterpiece of all time, Leonardo da Vinci’s Battle of Anghiari. Originally painted on the walls of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio in 1505, it was lost 50 years later when Vasari painted his murals on the very same site. After its disappearance, The Battle of Anghiari became the stuff of art legend, a work of remarkable beauty believed to have been destroyed half a millennia ago.


In 1975, in what may be the greatest art history whodunit of all time, Seracini began his search for the painting. Now, thanks to modern technology, the financial support of the Guinness family (yes, those
Guinesses!) and Seracini’s passion and dedication, he is just months away from proving that The Battle of Anghiari exists.

Through our Artviva Exclusive Experiences, you have the once in a lifetime opportunity to join Maurizio Seracini as he nears the conclusion to his quest.
Seracini, art sleuth extraordinaire, will also be your guide to all of greatest art treasures of Renaissance Florence. Go to
http://www.italy.artviva.com/artviva_exclusive_general_experiences_italy/artviva_exclusive_experiences_italy_travel_florence_tuscany_rome_venice
for more information on an Artviva Exclusive Experience with Maurizio Seracini.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘[The guide], thank you so very much for a truly wonderful day in Tuscany, memories to last a lifetime! May happiness find you wherever you are.’

Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour
Nicky

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Tour with [the guide] was great! She is a wonderful guide who expertly led us on to the number 7 bus and up to Fiesole. Once there, it was an interesting and informative tour. The sights plus the Villa de Miano were spectacular. Lunch was delicious with a very nice wine tasting led by [the guide]. The entire tour was lots of fun. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone. Thank you for a great experience.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour
Karen Queheillatt 08/03/06

Italy Tour Review Best of Tuscany Tour

‘Thank you [the guide] for your Best of Tuscany Tour. You were great and personable and informative. We will see you again.’
Tuscany Tour
Best of Tuscany Tour Elissa, Brooke and Juan

Italy Tour Review The Best of Tuscany Tour

‘ I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our recent trip into the Tuscany countryside. [The guide] was very knowledgeable and a delight to be with as well. I had some concerns about my mom being able to navigate the hill towns, but [the guide] gave us excellent advice about shopping and walking routes, and we never felt that we lagged behind or delayed the group. And we loved the farm! Thanks again. We will certainly consider your excellent tour group again and will pass the information on to friends.’

Tuscany Tour
The Best of Tuscany Tour
Rosemary Williams May 8th, 2006

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘[The guide] was a wonderful guide, she informed us, kept us cohesive and laughing and gave us a fabulous glimpse into Italy.’
Florence City Tour
Original Florence Walking Tour Ann & Mark

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘Excellent presentation of information – witty, charming and full of great stories that moved the walk along well – jam-packed and so informative!!’

Florence City Tour
Original Florence Walking Tour March 2006

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘This is how we can describe the tour: Peace, Love and Happiness’ Thank you [the guide].’

Florence City Tour
Original Florence Walking Tour

Italy Tour Review The Best of Tuscany Tour

‘Both tour guides were excellent. They were knowledgeable and helpful. They were lots of fun. Thank you for everything. We would definitely recommend your company.’

Tuscany Tour
The Best of Tuscany Tour
Gary & Linda Yaruss May 2006

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘We had a really wonderful morning walking around Fiesole, 3rd May, during our stay in Florence. This was due in no small part to our excellent guide. She was lovely and friendly, chatty and very well informed. Thank you for a very memorable experience-we will tell all our friends.’

Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour
Jim & Colette O’Mahony 03/05/06

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘Really entertaining and informative. The tour brought Florence alive. Thanks[the guide].’

Florence City Tour
Original Florence Walking Tour
Linda and Paul 23/06/06

Italy Tour Review Taste of Tuscany Tour

‘Hello. Myself and a friend went on the ‘Taste of Tuscany at the Villa’ tour back toward the end of March (March 22nd to be exact) I wanted to write and let you know how wonderful [the guide] was as a guide. She was knowledgeable, interesting, nice, friendly and generally a great guide. She made quite a definitely difference in our experience and the tour wound up being a highlight of our trip. So thank you [the guide] for being such a great tour guide and thank you to your company for more of your tours as they all sounded very interesting and enjoyable.’

Tuscany Tour
Taste of Tuscany Tour
Bethany Sutton 22/03/06

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘Thank you [the guide] and the staff of Walking Tours of Florence for the 2 great tours we took on April 18th 2006. [The guide]’s knowledge and passion for art and great personality helped make it a wonderful day!’
Florence City Tour
Original Florence Walking Tour

Louis Racine April 18th 2006

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘This was our second trip to Florence. There is absolutely too much to see and do in a short period of time. Walking Tours helped guide us to and through key treasures in Florence. It was well worth it and I have already recommended it to friends. [The guide] was awesome!’
Florence City Tour Original Florence Walking Tour

Italy Tour Review Original Florence Walking Tour

‘Thursday, May 4th we had a delightful tour with [the guide]. In a brief morning tour she gave us a good sense of Florence architecture and history. Her sense of humour and energy was infectious. It was such a good experience that we’re off for an evening tour today!’
Florence City Tour
Original Florence Walking Tour Janey and Don Mactrel

Italy Tour Review The Original Florence Walking Tour

‘[The guide] the Magnificant! The Best Walking Tour we’ve ever taken! Wonderful!’
Florence City Tour
The Original Florence Walking Tour Heather & Joe

Italy Tour Review The Original Florence Walking Tour

‘[The guide], you are fabulous even our 9-year-old and 13 year-old were engrossed and fascinated.
Thank you.’
Florence City Tour The Original Florence Walking Tour Terence, Drew and Caspert

Italy Tour Review The Original Florence Walking Tour

‘Thank you so much for the wonderful tour. It was the best time in Florence. Excellent job! Grazie! We will go home and tell our friends!’
Florence City Tour
The Original Florence Walking Tour Edith & Jim

Italy Tour Review Private Uffizi Gallery Tour

‘We had a wonderful Private Tour of the Uffizi with Emiko. She was very knowledgeable, professional, and lovely. [The guide]’s passion for art was evident in her presentation. Because of her quality I am returning to your office for additional tours. Thank you.’
Florence City Tour
Private Florence City Tour
Uffizi Gallery Tour
Christine Stroup14/03/06

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘[The guide] did a great job. Very informative, lively discussion, we learned a lot and got great exercise. She treated everyone well, we’d love to have her as a guide again.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour 4/6/06

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘[The guide] was a great tour guide. She was informative and friendly. The walking tour was a great escape from the city of Florence. Our family thoroughly enjoyed it. P.S. – The food was excellent!’

Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour The Buckries Family

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘The tour was terrific. [The guide] was well-informed and charming.’

Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour
Ted and Judy Goor Chicago, 5/29/06

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Thanks for a great day, good food, fantastic wine and wonderful scenery. A day to remember. Thanks [the guide]!’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour Nic, Nic, and Nic,

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Had an absolutely wonderful walk on the Morning in Tuscany with [the guide]. Very informative and
beautiful scenery…definitely recommend it!’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour Nicole

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Thanks for the very informal yet very informative Tuscany tour.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour
Jean & Carey 22/06/06

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Great tour and lunch. Tour guide was very nice and knowledgeable.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour The Burciagas

Italy Tour Review Taste of Tuscany Tour

‘What a wonderful day and lunch!’
Tuscany Tour
Taste of Tuscany Tour Lynn & Robert

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Today was wonderful, [the guide] is great!’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour The Brodkins

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘[The guide] was an awesome tour guide…definitely a great first experience of Tuscany! Very interesting and friendly.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour University of Delaware Girls

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘[The guide] was very friendly and informative. We really enjoyed the day!’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘The ‘Perfect Morning in Tuscany’ was perfect indeed. A day we will remember – the walk to the Villa was beautiful. [The guide] is a wonderful guide. Super, warm and friendly and knowledgeable. Thank you for the Perfect Day.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour Tricia & Larry

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘The tour was a relaxing way to see the Tuscan hillside! [the guide] helped make our visit extra special! Thanks again.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour Chrissie & Kelly

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘Wonderful tour, one of our favorites while in Europe. Very informative, great food too! Thank you very much.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour Bert and Kathy Laturne

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘I couldn’t ask for a better guide for our trip to the Tuscan countryside. [The guide] made what could have been a long, hot day one that flew by filled with informative comments and fun! Thank you again.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour Bob & Tammy Quapaw

Italy Tour Review A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour

‘[The guide] was terrific. Energetic, enthusiastic, great stories, good conversation. It was truly a Perfect Morning walk in Tuscany.’
Tuscany Tour
A Perfect Morning in Tuscany Tour The Baxters