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“Brenda Is Fantastic!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Artviva: The Original & Best Tours Italy

Artviva: The Original & Best Tours Italy
Via Sassetti 1 | Second Floor, 50123 Florence, Italy
+39 055 2645033
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$23*
and up
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: Acclaimed since 1996 for our great guides and tours, we offer the original, small-group Best of Tuscany tour, as well as wonderful guided tours of Florence, Venice, Rome and the Cinque Terre. Our tours are high-quality, entertaining, informative and fun! We love sharing Italy on a more personal level and with our small group sizes, we refuse to make you feel like a tourist. Our highly-qualified guides are passionate, have a sense of humour and enjoy bringing history to life. They include historians, aristocrats, wine makers, art sleuths, well-known journalists, guide writers, as well as talented artists and authors. What’s more, we are an ASTA approved, fully-licensed tour operator. We promise we are anything but ordinary, and we guarantee we are the Original & Best.
Frankenmuth, Michigan
1 review
“Brenda Is Fantastic!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2013

We stayed in Florence in mid October. Our Artviva tours of the Uffizi and the Accademia were a highlight of our visit. Our tour guide for both tours, Brenda, was outstanding. Her deep knowledge of the museums and the artwork contained therein made them come alive. More importantly, her passion for what she was doing transferred easily to members of the tour.

Visited October 2013
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Bath, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
208 reviews 208 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 89 cities Reviews in 89 cities
137 helpful votes 137 helpful votes
“two great tours”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2013

we took two tours in a day with this company and would highly recommend. In the morning we had a three hour private tour guide to ourselves for the Uffizi which was very informative, there is so much to see and only so much the brain can take in. Taking this tour meant we saw all the important works and the history behind them, got to skip the queues at the entrance too.
Then in the late afternoon we took a group tour to the Accademia to see the real David...I have to say that by the end of the day we were very tired and felt an OD of all things arty, but we are so glad we made the effort to go. The guide was informative and set the scene for us as we walked to the Accademia, seeing David was an amazing experience and one we will never forget, having the insight behind the sculpture really added to the experience. Would use them again.

Visited October 2013
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nyc
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Terrific Tours !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

We took 2 tours in Florence and loved them both. A very enjoyable way to gain some knowledge and look around without having your head in a book. i was concerned that 22 people would be too large for a tour, but it was fine. Headsets worked well and we all had some space. Highly recommend Artviva and will use them again .

Visited October 2013
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PA
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“A wonderful tour choice!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

We booked two tours in Florence, based on reviews we read. We were not disappointed!! Our guide for the walking tour of Florence was Brenda --- she was fabulous!! She knew the city, she was quite personable, and she provided insight into special treats to enjoy in Florence. Our second tour was The David. Alberto was also an amazing guide! His background knowledge and passion for Michelangelo's work were stellar. Both tours included audio headsets and reasonably-sized groups. We would recommend them!

Visited October 2013
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Silver Spring, Maryland
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Very interesting tour, but....”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 13, 2013

Our walking tour of Florence was a good experience, overall. Our guide -- I think her name was Laura -- was engaging and interesting. She was an American ex-pat who had lived in Florence for quite a while as I recall. She really knew her stuff and was a good story teller. I was a bit put off, however, by several cheeky remarks about Catholicism. Given that many of our stops along the tour were at or inside Catholic churches, much of the information provided touched on that. The tour guide seemingly couldn't resist a few digs or jokes about the clerics of the time or Catholic doctrine in general. It was clear to me that the tour guide was not Catholic, so I'm not sure why she felt comfortable wading into doctrine as often as she did. I'm pretty sure that my wife and I weren't the only Catholics in the tour group -- this was Florence, after all -- so the tour guides would be well-advised to avoid taking shots. Again, overall we enjoyed the tour, but I do remember those sour notes. I'm not a wacky religious fanatic, so I'm pretty sure others noticed as well.

Visited October 2013
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Artviva, Manager at Artviva: The Original & Best Tours Italy, responded to this review, November 14, 2013
We very much appreciate both your positive remarks about your guide, and also your positive criticisms. We have had nuns and priests on our tours – even in the Vatican – and you are the first to raise any such concerns. Italian history generally is greatly intertwined with that of the Catholic Church and as such, any discussion of the history of Florence must touch on some religious doctrine. During certain times within history, there have been Popes whose actions seem not to have been in the true spirit of the faith. The Medici Pope, Leo X, is known as the ‘Agnostic Pope’, who talked about “the myth of Christ”. The Borgia Pope Alexander VI had one of his mistresses and their children living just by the Vatican, and promoted one his sons to Cardinal and another to a high-ranking military position in the Pope’s Army. The Pazzi family attempted to assassinate 2 of the Medici family during a mass within the Cathedral of Florence, with Giuliano de' Medici being stabbed 19 times before bleeding to death on the cathedral floor. Conspirators even included Archbishop Salviati. As part of the great upheaval that ensued, Pope Sixtus IV enlisted the King of Naples to attack Florence. Your guide has studied this history in-depth and certainly did not intend to offend when recounting these stories. The church has given Florence, and Italy generally, much of its great architecture, commissioned many master artworks and contributed greatly to Italian society. None are more appreciative of this than our guides who, as historians, have dedicated their lives to studying and sharing the history and the great art and architectural richness Italy has to offer.
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