Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trip Advisor Review for Original Florence Walk and Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery Tour

Find out more about our Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery Tour and the Original Florence Walk from one of our happy clients!

TripAdvisor Original & Best Walking Tours Review:

"We truly enjoyed both the Original Florence Walk and Uffizi tours.

We booked via internet from home and everything went well. Good information was provided regarding the tours and meeting place which was easy to find.

Both guides were so passionate about Florence and able to share both their love of the city and their tremendous knowledge. We had fun, we learned a lot from them and our tours contributed to make our stay in Florence a very memorable experience.

During the walking tour, you really get a good sense of the city: its history, influent families, religion, politics, arts and so on.

The Uffizi museum is a "must see" but can be quite overwhelming on your own. Our guide was really good at selecting the best art pieces and information was so interesting!

I would strongly recommend Artviva!"

Quebec, Canada
August 2009

The Original and Best Walking Tours: "This was so worth my time and money, that 3 years later, I came back for another!"

The Original and Best Walking Tours TripAdvisor Review from August 19, 2009:

"This was so worth my time and money, that 3 years later, I came back for another!

This event, I'll refrain from using the phrase "tour" because it did not feel like one, was extraordinary to say the least.

Sylvia, our tour guide, was not only extremely knowledgeable, energetic, punctual, personable, highly talented, and communicative about the various architectural and historical wonders of the city, but she was also helpful to lead us in the right directions (various local points of interest) for the remainder of our 3 day stay in Florence.

With the large number of tourist trap boutiques that my group was definitely not interested in, we surely would have been lost amongst the crowds without Sylvia's expertise.

Thank you again, Sylvia and "The Original and Best Walking Tours" for this wonderful experience and tradition that we look forward to on our return to Italy."

Florida, US
Aug 19, 2009 New

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why not try our Italy Grand Tour Special!

Trip Advisor ArtViva Review:


"We did the Grand Italy package tours of Venice, Florence and Rome with the Learn to be Gondolier Tour in Venice and Villa Swim tour with wine tasting in Tuscany as extras.

The company threw in an Evening walk with wine in Florence. Friendly staff, great service, really fantastic guides, best tours we did in Europe.

Venice gondola rowing teaching experience was our favorite, just being out on the lagoon with magical views and our son having a go at rowing was the highlight of our trip. We can't recommend Artviva more highly; we will definitely be using them when we return.

Can't remember all the guides names, but a special thanks to Stephan for a great Best Tuscany tour and Jennifer for the Grand Canal and Original Gondola tours, and Sylvia in Florence for the Uffizi tour and Chris for a memorable Vatican tour."

May 12, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Best of Tuscany and Florence - Just Do It!" - ArtViva TripAdvisor Review

Read further to hear what one of our recent clients have to say about our Best of Tuscany Tour, Tuscan Bike + Villa Swim Tour and Tuscan Wine Tour.

Did we mention they loved our Florence tours as well?

"We can not say enough about this very friendly company. Due to a mix up over setting our clocks-put it down to jet lag! and a problem with a bus strike we turned up late for our morning tour and Uffizi tour the next day.

No problems for the smiling Artviva young ladies in Florence who graciously took our rambling family to meet the already departed guides.

Our guides caught us up in the break with what we missed. Florence is a fascinating city and our guides Christine and Silvia just made it come alive for us. We loved the smallest bar we have ever seen, a cupboard sized hole in a wall where we stopped for a snack.

The best for us was the Best of Tuscany tour with Stephen with the wine, the lunch, views. He convinced us to do the Villa Swim tour as well. As our parents are elderly -we biked, they opted to be transfered directly to the villa. All highly recommended for young and old alike.

Artviva never made us feel unwanted, our questions about parking, restaurants, changing money, rest rooms, where to get medical attention, wheel chair hire (Mother not feeling too well), post offices (you get the idea!) ... were answered with a sense of humor and patience as I'm sure they must have heard most of our queries a million times before.

Our guides always made sure my mother in her wheel chair for this part of out trip felt included in the tour. Thank you Artviva you made what could have been a difficult stay in Florence not just a memorable experience but one we will all treasure."



14 August 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"A Great Tour of the Uffizi Gallery with ArtViva"

What better way to understand the highlights of Renaissance art than with our expert guides!

Read the latest review from Trip Advisor about our Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery Tour!

“A Great tour of the Uffizi Gallery with Artviva

"I had a really interesting and fun tour of the Uffizi gallery in Florence with a company called Artviva. We were escorted to the gallery by a young guide who is a native speaker of English and were able to gain entry without the usual interminable wait in the queue.

Having visited the gallery before, I know it is a vaste repository of wonderful paintings and sculpture. But you can wear out an awful lot of shoe leather trying to find the really good stuff and even then you might not realise what you are looking at. Our guide, on the other hand, knew just where to take us and was full of entertaining stories about the artists and their work.

There were some children in our group who were kept interested with questions to answer with a treasure hunt style quiz. They seemed to really enjoy the tour as much as the adults. After our tour we were free to keep exploring the gallery for as long as we wished, but I must admit my friend and I headed straight for the coffee shop."

Port Douglas
10 August 2009

For more details on this tour, please visit our website .

Friday, August 14, 2009

ArtViva Trip Advisor Review for the Uffizi and David Tours

"What a find Artviva was! We took the Uffizi and the David tours. The tickets were pre-reserved so we did not have to wait in any long lines. That in itself was great. It got better as the day went on.

Our guide was fabulous. Her knowledge base was unbelievable. She directed us to the certain masterpieces in the Uffizi that demonstrated the development of early to late renaissance styles with much added background information. The David Tour was great as well.

The staff at Artviva was very professional from the person who took our reservation to the guides. I will recommend Artviva to anyone I know who is traveling to Italy and will use them again next time I go."

Brookline, Massachusetts

Original Evening Walk offers you a glimpse into Florentine life, past and present, and treats you to a tasting of wine, olive oil & balsamic vinegar!

TripAdvisor ArtViva Review:

"We went on "The Original Evening Walk" in Florence and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Heather was our guide, an American who had been studying art restoration in Florence. She seemed to know everything, and her enthusiasm was contagious. My sister and I are now both anxious to read all all about the Medici's.

This tour is limited to between two to eight participants, however, we were the only two that night for the tour. We learned more in those two hours than the rest of the week put together!

We loved learning about the little details of the architecture that you would normally miss. And the best part was the second hour that is spent in an upscale wineshop in a back room for the tasting.

The wineshop provided us with several types of olive oil, balsamic vinegar (including the 20 year aged cherry variety), chocolate, vin santo, chianti and grappa. We spent more than an hour talking about the history and use of each.

We didn't call to book the tour until that morning (in March) from the hotel, and they booked the tour for us. And when it started hailing in the middle of the tour, Heather offered us her umbrella. What a classy operation!"

March 26, 2009

Join our Original Best of Tuscany Tour for An Unforgettable and Memorable Experience!

ArtViva Review:

"Excellent, exceeded my expectations overall. Didn't expect the stop at the wine estate with lunch and wine to be so nice.... Driver was very skilled driving through the countryside, views were magnificent, tour guide was very knowledgable and entertaining during the time in the car between towns, had a thoroughly enjoyable day, totally worth the price.

Having lunch with our tour guide at the wine estate in the cellar was one of the most memorable moments of my entire trip. Very special, even the Grappa, which I could barely swallow because it was so strong!

Thanks for the unforgettable memories,"

Karen Carpenter

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Have a truly unique Italian experience with ArtViva in Florence, Rome and Venice!

See what one of our satisfied customers has to say about our Original Gondola Tour in Venice, our Original Bike Tuscany Tour and the Florence In One Day Package!

"I traveled with my husband and daughter age 16 and son age 21. We all did the Florence in One Glorious Day tour and it was fabulous. We had two different guides. The second was especially beyond our expectations. She really helped us to appreciate the art that we encountered. I am sure that I would have looked at the statue of David, for example, and moved on. With her careful eye she helped me to see the work in such a way that it truly moved me. She performed the same magic in the Uffizi Gallery. My whole family speculated that she must be a scholar who keeps her hand in the field beyond just doing these guided tours.

My husband and I did the Bike tour of Tuscany ourselves and we absolutely loved it. The group was varied, the guide was lively, funny, and informative, and the entire day was just plain fun - great scenery, great food, a little introduction into the art of tasting wine (in an atmospheric setting), and some good exercise as well. This tour had it all. My husband says he would do the same tour again...

The gondola tour was a good bargain for the money and very pleasant. The gondola ride was off the beaten path and a unique experience made afforable. In planning the trip I thought that the full day tour in Venice would be too much canned itinerary, but in retrospect I would have done another in tour in Venice as well. My 16 year old thought the gondola ride was a highlight of our trip."

Patti Zucca
June 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Florence In One Day Tours ArtViva Review

Visit two of the world's most famous art galleries, the Uffizi and the Accademia, with our entertaining guides who are experts in art history! Don't miss out in really getting to know the essence of Florence - let us take you on a journey through the city's past and present with the Original Florence Walk! What better way to see the masterpieces of the Renaissance than with our Florence In One Glorious Day Package!

Hear more about our Florence In One Glorious Day Package from one of our clients:

"Outstanding experience! Tanya was an excellent guide to introduce us to the architecture and history of Florence and the Renaissance. Her knowledge and presentation style were engaging and informative and all members of my family (my husband, my 10 year old son and I) found the tour one of our trip's highlights! We were left wanting to read books about the Medici family and spend far more time in Florence than our time allowed!

Christine did a fantastic tour of the highlights of the Uffizi! She was extremely knowledgable and her sense of humour and ability to make so many connections between the art and the history of the time was fantastic! I had been to the Uffizi previously (unguided) and know realize how essential a good guide is to a collection of that importance. My son, who is just acquiring a taste for art and the subtle (and not so subtle) elements in a painting, loved the tour (as did my husband and I!) and it ranks amongst the top of his tour experiences during our two week stay in Italy.

Our time with Elizabeth at the Accademia was also very informative. She pointed out a number of interesting things about Michelangelo's sculpting style and we felt it was of great benefit to have the background when trying to appreciate his work. Our greatest regret on our trip was that we had not booked more tours through Artviva (particularly in Venice!!). It is a great incentive to return to Italy and make better use of the excellent tours you offer!!"

Megan McColm
July 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ryan Air Mag Article Artviva Learn to be a Gondolier Venice Tours

Ryan Air Mag Article by James Williams

Learn to be a Gondolier-Artviva Gondola Toirs and Rides in Venice, Italy

Behind the MaskFrom the July/August 2009 issue

We all know the bridge of sighs, but what about the rest of Venice? James Williams enters a world of spritz drinking, gondola making and life surrounded by water.
Click here to view the gallery for this article
I’m sitting in a café on St Mark’s Square savouring the last dregs of my €14 cup of coffee, watching as a young woman covered in pigeons poses for a photo against the backdrop of the magnificent, multi-domed Basilica. It’s a familiar sight and this must be one of the most enjoyable public spaces in the world, but part of me is still asking why I came to Venice at all.
Just then through the crowds of teenagers buzzing round the tacky souvenir stalls I spot a rare sight on this iconic piazza – a local. I can tell instantly by the lack of a camera and casual demeanour that it’s my guide, Fabio – a 24-year-old Venetian who has agreed to take me on a tour of his hometown, show me Venice’s traditions are alive and well and introduce me to some of the best bars the city has to offer.

Ducking down an alley under the clock tower Fabio leads me through a dense maze of narrow passageways until I am completely lost and disoriented. “You could never find this place on your own,” he says five minutes later as we enter a medieval courtyard near the church of San Giovanni Crisóstomo. There’s a little taverna tucked away in the corner with a group of locals perched on benches outside, and at the other end a jetty stretching out onto the Grand Canal.
It seems the perfect place to try a classic Venetian cocktail. “So are we having a Bellini?” I ask. “No, Venetians don’t drink those!” says Fabio with mischief in his eyes. “We only drink spritz!” The red-orange cocktail was invented back in the days of the Austrian Empire and tastes delicious – slightly bitter yet completely refreshing. Here at Taverna del Campiello Remer (Cannaregio 5701) they make it with white wine, Aperol and sparkling water.
Fabio informs me this courtyard would once have been a workshop making oars and oar rests for the gondola. “You can tell by the name ‘remèr’. At one time there were remèri all over Venice,” he says. I’m intrigued, so we head off to meet Fabio’s best friend Pietro, who for the past five years has been carrying on the tradition.

We enter a workshop in the laid-back Dorsoduro district to the pleasing smell of wood and varnish, and the strains of Vivaldi’s Summer filling the room. Pietro shows us a finished forcola (oar rest), which has been carved from a whole piece of walnut wood. It looks beautiful. “This one provides the rower with two speeds and a reverse gear,” he explains. “And we don’t just make these for the gondolas – rowing is a very popular sport here and there are about 50 clubs. We make pieces for private buyers, too – there is even a forcola at the MoMA gallery in New York.”

As we are talking, Pietro’s boss – Venice’s “master remèr”, Saverio Pastor – appears and chats to us briefly before picking up a sharp tool and making intricate carvings to a freshly chiselled piece. Saverio is also president of the El Felze association, which helps to promote and preserve the crafts of the gondola, from boat builders to tailors and engravers. These artisans and their crafts offer a fantastic snapshot of the soul of Venice, and if you fancy seeing more you can even download maps showing workshop locations at

I sense Fabio is becoming restless. It’s getting close to spritz hour, when the town’s bars come alive, so we take the vaporetto (water bus) over to the district of Castello, where along the quiet, tourist-free streets like Via Giuseppe Garibaldi we find gondoliers out enjoying a well-earned beer, some of them still in their stripy shirts.

And best of all Fabio reveals he is to take us out tonight by boat, which we find moored near the Arsenale. Soon Pietro, who has got cleaned up, joins us and we get ready for the night out. “Look you can see everything from here,” says Pietro, as the boat chugs along a narrow canal. We pass by secret gardens with plumes of purple wisteria leaping over the walls, a beautiful Greek Orthodox church, and Venice’s own leaning tower. We also capture hidden moments, such as people on running machines in the gym and couples kissing next to a bridge.

Unlike your average tourist boat ride, we also have to get our hands dirty squeezing the boat under the dangerously low Ponte Tetta, or “Tits Bridge”. “We don’t want to get wedged under here,” says Pietro, as he tells us about the prostitutes who used to display their wares from the windows in the houses above.

Happy hour is in full swing as we pull up alongside Ostaria Simson (Castello 6316), the first stop on our bacari tour. The aim is to visit several bars and osterias – small restaurants where you can either eat a meal or just drink great wine alongside cicchetti, bite-sized snacks that are a highlight of Venetian cuisine.

Clinking our glasses of white wine, we tuck into sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines in onions and vinegar), baccalà (cod paste spread over crostini) and tender baby octopus. Fish has long been a staple in this former maritime nation and we also see diners enjoying seared tuna and pasta with clams.

Next up we moor the boat at Ostaria al Ponte (Cannaregio 6378), where the owner greets us with a jug of ombra – white wine consumed in glasses so small it’s impossible to remember how many you’ve had. Another friend, Pippo, turns up and we all stand on the bridge overlooking Campo San Giovanni e Paolo eating wonderful soppressa salami, and hearing funny stories about Venice’s promiscuous nuns and people falling in the canal.

Now we’re all warmed up the Venetian boys proceed to lead us on foot through the labyrinthine back streets of San Marco. All around the deserted alleys are more signs of Venice’s weird and wonderful past. We see peculiar masks used to ward off the plague, discover the square where Marco Polo and his family once lived, and come across a hidden courtyard that not even Fabio knew existed.

It’s turning into a real adventure, as we sink yet more wine outside Trattoria Ca’ d’Oro (Cannaregio 3912), scoffing fried potato and mince balls, before hitting our last port of call around 1am at the trendy Osteria al Pesador in the nightlife hub of the Rialto market. We zoom up the Grand Canal and moor the boat by the jetty. “Having a boat in Venice is like having a car – only better,” says Fabio as we go ashore. I couldn’t agree more, and we stay on drinking until the early hours, before thankfully the boat is on hand to transport me back to my hotel.
Head spinning the next morning I wonder how I’ll manage spending this day bobbing about on yet more boats – having promised to meet with a few of Pietro’s highly praised rowers. Leaving behind my comfy bed in the Hotel Papadopoli Venice ( – a luxury bolt-hole that’s close to everything, including the main vaporetto terminal – I’m soon on the water again heading to the Querini rowing club, one of the oldest in Venice.

“The great thing about this sport is that people of all ages can do it, whether you’re 17 or 70,” one grey-haired man tells me, as a father and son push their boat out into the lagoon. Traditions are strong here, and so is the competition between clubs – races have been a Venetian way of life for centuries. The biggest of all being the Regatta Storica (6 September), which sees teams of top racers battling it out on the Grand Canal.

Gazing out at the idyllic scene before me, I contemplate how I’ve seen this city in a whole new light since hanging out with some natives. And I wonder how people can come here on daytrips and venture only as far as St Mark’s Square. Or, as Fabio put it to me: “Venice is such an amazing, beautiful city – I just wish people would come and see more of it.”

Learn to be a gondolier!Ever wondered what it’s like to ply the murky waters of La Serenissima? We had a go ourselves and it’s not as easy as it looks. First you have to keep the oar in the water at all times and keep your balance. Second, keep your left hand below shoulder height and use those muscles. Many Venetians start rowing when they are kids, but luckily for us landlubbers a new hands-on course by Artviva The Original and Best Tours Italy will give you a two-hour lesson rowing a gondola. Unique in Venice, an experienced native-English-speaking tutor takes you out onto the lagoon in a specially adapted boat, where you’ll also hear plenty of stories about this age-old profession.

It costs €80pp (maximum four) and can be booked at
Also check out Artviva’s Original Gondola Tour – the only one of its kind – and discover Venice with a quality guide in one of its magical black boats.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Artviva Tour Review

Artviva Tour Review
“Tours with a personal touch”

Aug 12, 2008

I cannot say enough good things about the two tours I took with this company. One was a 4 hour walking tour of Florence, and the other was a day trip into the heart of Tuscany on a bus. Each had no more then a dozen clients and we all felt that we had personal treatment.There was a small mix up with my original booking, but it was handled quickly and to my complete satisfaction. Thank you to both my tour guides who were fun and very knowledgable. Thanks to Artviva for adding so much to my trip to Italy. Worth every penny.

Trip Advisor Artviva Tour Review
Artviva Review Trip Advisor

“Favorite Tour in Europe”

Robles2010 Boston, MA
Sep 28, 2008

All the Venice tours were absolutely amazing! After doing the Walking Tour in Florence we fell in love with Artviva and had high expectations of the Venice tour. I am very happy to tell you that our expectations were met and surpassed. The guides were incredible, personable, friendly and brought the history of the sights to life in a funny, memorable way. What a wonderful experience! Their site is belowP.S. Throughout the tour they made up feel like old friends showing us the town.

Francisco "Artviva: The Original and Best Walking Tours"

Review TripAdvisor

Artviva Review Trip Advisor

Artviva Review “Grand Canal Tour”

Sep 28, 2008

Cynthia Johnson gave us all the scoop, past and present. It was fun to hear her stories - personal ones and those of the celebrities and past Venetians. It's a good tour to get off your feet and sit in a water taxi. We would take another one. Cynthia had a great way sharing. You felt like you know her almost instantly. She's knowledgable in her field and I love that she lives in Venice. She's a real part of the community, but still a part of ours. Thanks, Cynthia, hope to see you again in Venice!

Artviva Trip Advisor Review Venice Tour Grand Canal

Reviews Artviva Venice

Trip Advisor Review

Review Artviva
“Wonderfull tuscan tours = great memories”

May 4, 2009

The best tours we have ever done. We’ve just returned and still find ourselves talking about what a wonderful experience we had. We did the Venice in One Glorious day tours as well as the learning to be a gondolier tour (two memorable hours listening to stories from our gracious and insightful master guide) not to mention floating on Venice’s lagoon and trying to row like the Venetian gondoliers! We have to recommend this as a great and relaxing way to get out of busy Venice and see it from such a fantastic perspective. It's hard to imagine a better introduction to this wonderful city. Our guides exhibited a wonderful combination of in-depth knowledge of the city and its treasures, a wonderful presence, a sense of humor, a great ability for story-telling, not to mention a wealth of practical suggestions… Throughout our all too brief stay we found ourselves referring to the suggestions made by our wonderful guides; ranging from how to snack Venetian style, to tricky rowing tips, use of perspective, where to find the best Murano glass to ordering a Bellini at Harry’s Bar in native Venetian… we will recommend this company to anyone visiting Venice. Thumbs up Artviva!

Artviva Venice Review

Artviva Venice Tour Review
“Fantastic tours we did with Artviva.”

May 12, 2009

Wow! We did the Grand Italy package tours of Venice, Florence and Rome with the Learn to be Gondolier Tour in Venice and Villa Swim tour with wine tasting in Tuscany as extras. The company threw in an Evening walk with wine in Florence. Friendly staff, great service, really fantastic guides, best tours we did in Europe. Venice gondola rowing teaching experience was our favorite, just being out on the lagoon with magical views and our son having a go at rowing was the highlight of our trip. We can't recommend Artviva more highly; we will definitely be using them when we return. Can't remember all the guides names, but a special thanks to Stephan for a great Best Tuscany tour and Jennifer for the Grand Canal and Original Gondola tours, and Sylvia in Florence for the Uffizi tour and Chris for a memorable Vatican tour.

Trip Advisor Review Venice Artviva

Artviva Review Venice Tour

Artviva Review Venice Tour

"We really lucked into your company. All the Florence and Venice tours were exceptional.”

Artviva provided knowledgeable and personable guides who made the tours a very pleasant experience. I felt like we got a lot extra out of our visits to Florence and Venice due to our Artviva guides. I wholeheartedly recommend Artviva tours.

RCWTexas Texas
Jun 13, 2009

Trip Advisor Review Venice Artviva

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Looking for La Bella Vita? Look no further!

For those of you looking to get outside the hustle and bustle of the city, why not try La Bella Vita offered exclusively by ArtViva?

We take you away from the hot sun and crowds, to a picturesque Renaissance villa on the outskirts of Florence. See beautiful views of Tuscany, enjoy a wine tasting and winery visit, a gourmet lunch...and then laze away by a private pool with stunning views of the Tuscan hills surrounding you.

Because not many hotels in Florence have pools, this is the perfect option to enjoy yourself, relax, refresh, and take in the best that Tuscany has to offer!

For more information on all of our ArtViva experiences, please visit us here.