Olive Oil

Italy, and particularly Tuscany, is famous for its extra virgin olive oil.

Artviva: The Original and Best Walking Tours
Average Rating:   4.9
out of 5 stars
   Based on 91 Ratings.

On 2017/06/08
Eddie Wong said:
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Ishmael is Excellent

Ishmael led us on a fascinating food tour in and around the famed Mercado in Florence. After sampling tasty pizza dough poppers and lattes, we ventured into the indoor central market (mercado) and met several family owned businesses that sold olive oil, cheese, and other goodies. I'm not a huge foodie but enjoyed the food and learning about the process of aging olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We also had a full lunch at a local restaurant with delicious pasta and oxtail. I can't say enough superlatives about Ishmael. He is knowledgeable, personable and attentive. I would love to invite him over for dinner in San Francisco so that we can continue our conversations about food, music and art. There's so much more than food on a tour with Ishmael. Peace and blessing on to you. Ciao, Florence. We will return.

On 2017/06/04
Marita said:
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Artviva guides set a high standard

I booked Artviva's Original Florence Walk for 5 people and the Uffizi and David tours for three people. Our Artviva guides lived up to their reputation for being extremely knowledgeable about the city and its many wonders and their ability to transmit it all in flawless English was amazing. We really could not have wished for more. It was also great to spread this tour package over three days -- more time to take in all the interesting stories that we were offered. Special thanks to Barbara and Brenda for sharing their passion.

On 2017/05/24
Kathy Harris said:
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Florence walking tour

During a recent visit to Florence I was on a small group walking tour called "Sites and Statues" with tour guide Brenda. It was a delight spending the time with Brenda as she shared her stories and her knowledge of her beloved Florence. Thanks ArtViva for sharing Brenda with us!

On 2017/05/02
John Aldeborgh said:
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Just A Fantastic Tour

We took the tour of the Uffizi Gallery on April 22nd with Loredana as our guide. Just an outstanding way to see the museum as you get the opportunity to merge the art with the history of Florence and the Medici family history. If you love art history and the renaissance then Florence and the Uffizi have to be on your bucket list. Loredana is an outstanding guide, she is very personable and a walking encyclopedia of knowledge on both the art in the gallery as well as history of Florence and the renaissance. A great way to spend an afternoon.

On 2017/04/02
Kathleen O Pierce said:
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We were a group of 6 that had taken 4 tours in Florence and loved all of them. This tour in Rome was significantly different. This tour is not for the faint of heart. It is crowded and loud and tiring. I would never do it again even though our tour guide, Rosie, was great.

On 2017/04/02
Kathleen O Pierce said:
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Elisabetta gave us the two hour tour at the Uffizi Gallery. She was an EXCELLENT tour guide. We had a group of 6 and she held all of our attention. I would highly recommend this tour and this tour guide.

On 2017/04/02
Kathleen O Pierce said:
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We loved our tour to visit the David with Claas. It is only an hour long, and it is a MUST if visiting Florence. The only issue was that it was crowded and Claas did not hold his microphone up to his mouth, but pinned it on his shirt. There was a lot of background noise, walking to the tour, and inside the building. I would highly recommend he talk slower and hold his microphone to make the tour even better. I would highly recommend this.

On 2017/04/02
Kathleen O Pierce said:
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Our family of 6 spent the day visiting Tuscany with Stefan. We had a glorious day. Stefan was knowledgeable and fun...we learned so much. I highly recommend this tour! Couldn't have been better!

On 2016/11/04
Tasha said:
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BEST way to see Rome

My husband and I were on our honeymoon and booked the "Original Rome Walk" for a Monday afternoon on Halloween; it ended up being a private tour with our guide Sylvie and it was FANTASTIC! She was super knowledgeable and funny, and took the time to answer my husband's multiple questions. The tour itself was also great - I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Rome!

On 2016/11/02
Dawn Everidge said:
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Tour of a lifetime

My friend and I took the Genius of Michelangelo Tour by Artviva and it was absolutely brilliant, the highlight of our time in Florence!! We cannot recommend it enough!! Our tour guide was fabulous, a riveting former art history professor, who brought The Renaissance to life for us as he guided us through Florence. His stories pulled us back to the Florence known to Michelangelo and his contemporaries. The crowds disappeared for us as we were transported through time and were guided to Michelangelo's well-known and lesser known works. Ultimately the masses literally parted for us, momentarily, as we realized the dream of a lifetime, seeing his masterpiece, The David. It was the tour of a lifetime that we never wanted to end!

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The earliest evidence of olive cultivation in the world comes from the Livorno area on Tuscany’s coast.

So important was oil in the past that land would be bequeathed not in terms of metres but in numbers of olive trees.  

Olive trees are planted usually on a hillside to allow for good drainage of the soil. The trees were cultivated to grow tall, with one main trunk and the foliage up nice and high so no one could steal the olives. After a bad frost in the early 1980s however, many trees died. The trees that grew in their place were let to grow freely, making them easier to harvest.

Harvest of olives is done around October-November, just when the olives are a perfect mix of just-ripe and nearly-ripe to ensure the right acidity in the ensuing product. To be officially considered extra virgin olive oil, the acidity level must be less than 0.8%, with late harvesting risks having a too-high acidic level.

Top-quality oil is still to this today produced from olives harvest by hand. There are also olive picker devices that are like a mechanical hand with fingers that are placed in between the leaves to then ‘tickle’ the olives off the branches, however this runs the risk of cutting the olive surfaces and causing bacteria to set in before the milling process.

Once the olives are collected from the trees, they are taken to an official mill. Whilst some larger producers will have their own onsite mill, most smaller producers must go to a local oil press.

As the pressing must occur as soon as possible after harvest, during the oil season the mills take appointments all throughout the day and night.

The olives are placed on a grill that is agitated to rid the olives of dirt, grass and the like. They then go through the a first cold pressing. The extracted product is thus “cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil” that is more green in colour and is delicious consumed raw. The remaining pulp may then be pressed again with heat, resulting in just “extra virgin olive oil” that is used for cooking. A further chemical extraction can be done to have just “olive oil”. Most Italians will say this is best used to polish the furniture however!

Extra virgin olive oil is a good fat that can even reduce cholesterol and other heart issues.

Just-pressed extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Once heated, many of these properties are lost, hence why Italians drizzle this oil over soups, cooked vegetables, salads, meats or on toasted bread with a sprinkle of salt (the original “Bruschetta” recipe), rather than cooking the oil with the dish. Pieces of fresh bread and raw in-season vegetables can also be dipped into oil as a tasty and healthy starter dish.

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Savor the tastes and sights of sublime Tuscany. Visit a historical villa estate, home to a noble family who has played an important role in Italian history, now dedicated to producing top-quality wines. Be guided through the stunning historic wine and olive oil cellars led by the estate's wine expert, then taste award-winning fine wines. Stroll through the estate's grounds that offer beautiful views over the Tuscan countryside before heading back to Florence, all the while in the company of our wonderful guide. 
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The Original Tuscany Bike Tour

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My Exclusive Best of Tuscany Tour

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Shop not just like a local, but actually with a local! Delve into Italy's gastronomic culture on this fun and tasty food experience, including more tastings than any other package of its kind.
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Luxury Tuscany Villa Cooking Class: 4-course

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Marvellous Cooking: Dinner Deluxe

Join a hands-on cookery session in the heart of Florence. You'll savour the fruits of your labour as you dine with your fellow students in the convivial atmosphere of like-minded gourmands. 
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A Taste of Tuscany: Wines of Nobility

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My Exclusive Marvelous Cooking: Dinner Deluxe

Enjoy preparing classic Italian dishes in the heart of Florence during this easy session. Then, savour the fruits of your labour with a glass of Tuscan wine.
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Easy Deluxe Cooking: Dinner

Prepare a 3-course Italian dinner and enjoy a unique and memorable experience in the culinary arts.  Have fun preparing classic Italian dishes in the heart of Florence with easy hands-on instruction.
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