Tanti auguri to us! 🇮🇹🧡🥂

It is with great pride and emotion that, today, we officially mark Ciao Andiamo’s 10-year anniversary. Ten years curating insider Italian experiences for our travelers, from lifelong memories and shared moments to honeymoons, weddings, anniversaries and celebrations. Ten years working alongside our wonderful collection of local experts and collaborators who so passionately share their slice of Italy with our guests and make them feel like family. Ten years organizing tours and special events for best-in-class travel advisors and partners. And ten years being part of an incredible team — spanning Italy and the U.S. — without whom, none of this would be possible.

As we celebrate this milestone, our three co-owners reflect on all we’ve achieved, the road ahead, and why we love what we do.

Grazie to all of you who have been part of this journey.

– Jon, Max & Cristiana

 

Max, Cristiana, and Jon – Ciao Andiamo Co-owners – in Sardinia, Italy


I am lucky enough to do a job that I love and that allows me to travel, not just throughout Italy and the world, but also with my mind. Since my husband Max and I first met and partnered with Jon to help build Ciao Andiamo, my enthusiasm and passion has only grown.

We have given our all to Ciao Andiamo throughout the years, working to make the dream of visiting Italy come true in ways more special than ever imagined for our guests. We are never done searching for unique, authentic experiences that are never cookie cutter, always personalized and truly about our travelers. For us, this matters more than anything: to help people discover the real Italy–an Italy of small producers, winemakers, and hidden villages– and return home with a small treasure in their hearts. And those who travel with us start out as customers and leave as family.

This past year has been very difficult for all of us and for Ciao Andiamo. Suddenly, like so many other businesses, we had to stop everything due to the pandemic. I was afraid for our future. But we immediately responded — I began making videos from my kitchen to share with our friends and clients and stay connected. We learned to do things differently, launching our virtual classroom and teaching about Italian wine and cooking in a hands-on, intimate way even while thousands of miles away. This was a great resilience test on the part of the whole team, all of whom showed an incredible desire to move forward, and I am so proud. We could have disappeared like so many travel agencies and tour operators, but we are here, standing strong and eager to welcome our travelers to Italy once again, with open arms and a smile. This is Ciao Andiamo for me. A big, united family that looks to the future with positivity.

Here’s to our many years together and many more to come!

– Cristiana Chiacchierini, Chief Italy Officer


We don’t sell tours. We share emotions. This idea has always been a lighthouse for me personally in my years of experience as a tour operator. Working with Jon, Cristiana, our team, and our great collaborators over the last 10 years has been the most fascinating journey of my entire life. For sure the past 14 months of the pandemic has represented a tough time, but I like to think that a stone will never stop my journey, and we are more ready than ever to restart our adventures around Italy. Andiamo (let’s go)!

– Max Brunelli, Chief Italy Officer

 


Ciao Andiamo began in March 2011 as a passion project. It was sparked by a deep-seated love for all things Italian, and a desire to help others experience the real Italy, not simply as tourists, but as locals.

When I reflect on our roots, and the early days of Ciao Andiamo, I am overwhelmed by how far we have ventured along this journey. In Ciao Andiamo’s very first year, we organized a total of 8 trips to Italy, while hosting a few food & wine events and teaching some conversational Italian language classes in New York City. Today, we have curated over 1,000 Italy trips and events for our wonderful guests, and are as eager as ever to build on this number once global travel to Italy resumes.

But it’s not the scale of our small business that makes me most proud. It’s the way in which we have grown, always staying true to our roots and core mission of helping travelers experience Italy through the eyes of locals, helping them fall in love with this special country and culture. It hasn’t always been easy–and this last year has certainly been challenging unlike any other–but with our guiding north star, and an incredibly passionate and committed team who, even in the toughest of times, has shown remarkable integrity and the deepest of care for our clients, collaborators, and one another, I have no doubt that the best is still yet to come.

Thank you to all who have helped build, sustain and transform this passion project into the leading Italy travel company that it is today. Thank you to those who believed in and supported Ciao Andiamo along the way. You are a special part of our Ciao famiglia, and I am beyond grateful.

– Jon Pollock, Founder & CEO


 

Ciao travelers through the years

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It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year unlike any other. We have all experienced some version of challenge and change, both personal and professional, big and small. Many of us have endured significant hardship and loss. The difficult moments may not yet be behind us, but there is reason for optimism, and I know I am not alone in my eagerness to turn the page and look ahead.

I remember the moment when news first broke that a COVID-19 case had been detected in Italy. It was February 21st, a Friday evening. I had just returned from the office, ready to settle into the weekend and certainly not ready for the alert that abruptly popped up on my phone. Whatever trepidation I felt at that moment – and I did not take that initial announcement lightly – I could not fathom the magnitude of what lay ahead for our business and for the world, how our travel industry would be turned completely upside down, just as we were preparing for the season to kick into gear.

At that time in late February, it was not yet an American problem. Sure, there was cause for concern in the States, but it still felt like something foreign to most, and the messages of worry that I began to receive were all about whether all the people on the Ciao Andiamo team and across our network in Italy were OK, and what this was going to mean for upcoming travel and for our business. 

Of course, we all know too well how the story evolved in the weeks ahead, and how COVID-19 has come to impact individuals, households, and businesses across the world, too often with devastating consequences.

For all of you who have faced these difficulties, who have struggled and suffered, we at Ciao Andiamo send you our love and heartfelt wishes for a better tomorrow. 

And with an earnest respect and understanding of what many of you may be going through personally, my feeling today is not one of pessimism but of hope. I am hopeful as we look ahead, as we set our sights forward and begin to glimpse the light that is finally peeking its way through at the end of what once seemed an interminable tunnel. 

I am ready to leave in my rear view mirror the uncertainty and worry that enveloped our small business, as our team worked tirelessly to sustain a boutique travel company through a global pandemic. But I also appreciate that, amidst the adversity, there was perspective gained, invaluable lessons learned, and a tremendous solidarity and higher sense of purpose across our team.

I am in awe of the courage, passion, flexibility, and trust of the individuals who are part of this incredible Ciao Andiamo team. It is because of each of them, along with our partners, clients and supporters – our “Ciao famiglia” – that I write this letter not as a business that has been forced to close its doors, but as one that has withstood its greatest of tests, and has positioned itself to come out stronger and more adept than before, ready for the moment that international travel to Italy resumes.

It hasn’t been easy, but we have survived, and we will soon again thrive. And we’ll do so, as always, with a meticulous focus on our guests, and a promise of carefully curated, immersive experiences that transform and elevate travel, with the highest level of personal attention and care. More than ever we will have an eye towards collective safety, individual comfort, and the greatest degree of flexibility we can offer our travelers.

So as we close the year, and look ahead to the next – during which we will celebrate ten years in business – what I feel in this moment is profound gratitude. Gratitude for my amazing business partners and co-owners Max and Cristiana, for our remarkable team members in New York and Italy, who have stood by us and trusted us through every twist and turn, and to you who have supported us in myriad ways during this difficult moment in our company’s journey, from personal notes and heartfelt wishes, to participation as we launched our virtual classroom, to expectantly planning distant Italian adventures, all along the way believing in us.

On behalf of everyone at Ciao Andiamo, I wish you a happy holiday season. May the new year bring peace, health, prosperity, and hope, for you and all those you hold dear.

Buone feste e felice anno nuovo,
– Jon Pollock, Founder

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A Letter From the Founder

On March 28, 2020, Ciao Andiamo celebrates NINE years in business, curating authentic Italian experiences for our beloved guests. It is surreal to think about all that has transpired along this incredible journey, and how far we have come since those very first days of operation.

The Early Days of Ciao Andiamo

When Ciao Andiamo first began, “we” were a team of one, “headquartered” in the living room of a New York City apartment. I had left a promising career in the corporate world to build a business around my long-time passion for all things Italian. From a decade spent studying the Italian language, to multiple stints living in the bel paese – first in the small town of Sesto Fiorentino, just outside Florence, and later in the bustling metropolis of Milan – I was fortunate to have been able to discover the immense beauty of Italy, not as a tourist, but as a local.

I did all I could to soak in real Italian life, and immerse myself in the country’s culture, history, food, wine, and natural beauty. More than anything, it was the people, with their tremendous Italian spirit, who impacted me so profoundly, and inspired the mission of Ciao Andiamo: To help travelers discover Italy through local eyes, and fall in love. My hope, in starting this business, was to enable travelers to have a different kind of experience than that of the typical tourist, to go deeper, and connect with the country and Italian way of life, on unforgettable adventures full of passion and meaning.

Ciao Andiamo Transforms

After the early days of learning the ropes of the travel industry, and molding and fine-tuning the ways in which Ciao Andiamo could successfully deliver on its mission for our travelers, some special things began to unfold. Most notably, I connected with Max and Cristiana, a husband and wife dream team, with years of experience in the Italian hospitality industry–from running their own B&B in an off-the-beaten-path corner of the Umbrian countryside, to managing a hotel in Rome, and leading VIP guests on insider excursions. Max and Cristiana were effectively on their own parallel journey, looking to build something meaningful and lasting, with a shared vision and passion for authentic Italian adventures. We began to collaborate in curating all kinds of experiences for travelers, and soon joined together as official business partners and co-owners of Ciao Andiamo.

It was a perfect union, and we got to work building our respective offices and teams, in New York City (where the focus would be on growth, trip planning, and client services), and in Umbria, Italy (where we would manage our invaluable relationships with carefully selected collaborators across Italy, oversee operations and bookings, lead insider tours, and closely look after all our clients during their travels). So began the next phase of Ciao Andiamo, and we slowly transformed what had begun as a small passion project into a dynamic business poised for smart, continued growth, while keeping the personal touch, and staying true to our roots and mission.

Grazie to Our Travelers: Over 1,000 Trips And Counting

While Ciao Andiamo’s Italian journeys come to fruition through the dedication, passion, and care of the Ciao Andiamo team, and our exceptional network of guides, drivers, chefs, producers, and artisans, none of this would be possible were it not for our wonderful travelers. Grazie to you all for trusting in us over the years, for your enthusiasm, curiosity, and zeal, and for being part of the “Ciao famiglia”. We cannot wait to continue our adventure together, for many years to come.

Today’s Context, and What Lies Ahead

As we now begin our 10th year in operation, we find ourselves in a moment unlike any other in the history of Ciao Andiamo. COVID-19 has impacted so many individuals, families, industries, and businesses across the globe, ours included. It has been a tough moment for travel in general, and certainly for tourism in Italy. However, we remain grateful for the health and safety of our team members and partners, and for the outpouring of well wishes and encouragement we have received from so many of you. We know this moment shall pass, and when it does, we will be ready to resume in the promise of our mission, bringing to life extraordinary Italian journeys for our travelers, and welcoming you all back to Italy with open arms.

How You Can Help Support Ciao Andiamo

We do not take for granted that all of you have been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. We are keeping each and every one of you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time, and know that we will get through this all together. Italy trip planning is, understandably, not top of mind for many right now. But if you find yourself in a position where you are able and interested to support Ciao Andiamo, including our local partners and team, one meaningful way is to put down a deposit now for a trip you plan to take at some point in the future. You don’t need to have a precise travel date, or even a specific year in mind; any payment you make now will be 100% credited towards future travel, without time limitation, or restriction. And for any new trip deposits we receive at this time, we’ll be donating an additional 10% to one of the following two COVID-19 relief charities of your choosing:

 

The CDC Foundation Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund

Your support will help us mobilize a response to quickly assist CDC with taking aggressive public health measures to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

The Protezione Civile

The Protezione Civile, officially Dipartimento della Protezione Civile, is the national body in Italy that deals with the prediction, prevention and management of emergency events. Its duties are to predict, prevent and manage at national level disasters and catastrophes, both natural and human-made.


Select your trip credit amount and charity:



Grazie to our entire Ciao Andiamo famiglia: our travelers, partners, and team. You have made these last nine years so very special, and I cannot wait for all that’s in store in the many years ahead!

Stay well, and on behalf of the Ciao Andiamo team, I send you our love and gratitude.

– Jon Pollock, Founder

 

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