"Affluent travelers seek out exclusive outings with experts ranging from art detectives to wine writers" by MIMI MURPHY
"What did you do last summer? Recent luxury spending surveys by Amex and the New York Times found that the wealthy are no longer satisfied with material possessions alone. Increasingly, they are in pursuit of unique encounters as well. So how about touring the Uffizi Gallery with Maurizio Seracini? He's an art detective mentioned in The Da Vinci Code who uncovers the secrets of Renaissance masterpieces. Florence-based Artviva Exclusive Experiences has recruited such well-known experts from various fields to offer unforgettable outings to affluent travelers. Wine buffs might decide to visit castles and vineyards with renowned American wine writer Burton Anderson. "There's no set plan; we cater to the tastes of people who apply," says Anderson. "We have the possibility of opening almost any door." So if Sassicaia is your preferred vintage, you could be off to Bolgheri to meet the aristocrats who produce it. An insider's tour of Venice with Count Francesco da Mosto, who presented a BBC documentary and authored a book on his city, or an after-hours visit to the Vatican Museums with a noted scholar like American art historian Timothy Verdon are other options. Your imagination is the only limit. tel: +39 055 264 5033; www.italy.artviva.com"
From the 2nd October 2006 issue of TIME Europe magazine