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

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

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 for more information on booking your Artviva Exclusive Experience.

Welcome to the Artviva Blog!

Thanks for visiting, but we're not home.

We have moved to a new page. Visit us at:

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

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: 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
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

3 Tues 21:15 Opera-Rigoletto Florence-Boboli Gardens
6 Fri 21:00 Opera-Carmina Burana Barberino-Medici Villa of Cafaggiolo
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
17 Tues 21:15 Opera-Tosca Florence-Boboli Gardens
18 Wed 21:15 Opera-Carmina Burana Florence-Boboli Gardens
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

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 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

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
for more information on an Artviva Exclusive Experience with Maurizio Seracini.