Ciao Andiamo allowed us to discover Italy in ways we never imagined possible. We will continue to use them any time we return to Italy.
Our hobby, or our passion is traveling. We are very well traveled, and quite enjoy the process of planning trips. We pinpoint where we want to go and then do extensive research. We want every trip to be full of adventure, new things and to truly be perfect. As you can imagine, I have a very Type A personality. I research every last detail. While I do enjoy it, and learn so much about where we are traveling to — it is time consuming and, at times, exhausting.
We Decided to Hand Over the Trip Planning to the Professionals
My husband’s family is originally from Italy, and though over our lives we both have been to Italy separately, we had never been as a couple. We decided that we would make it a special trip for my 40th birthday and travel to Tuscany/Umbria and the Amalfi Coast–both places neither or us had ever been. Since I historically do most of the trip planning, for this to really be a “gift” for me, we decided to hand over the trip planning to the professionals!
This is how we came to know Ciao Andiamo. This did not come without hesitation. As mentioned, I am very Type A, and wasn’t totally comfortable with how somehow else was going to manage arranging and planning a trip for us to our satisfaction. Would they look at every detail like I do? Would they recommend average restaurants? Marginal hotels? Not include off the beaten path adventures?
Everything Was Seamless
After the very first phone consultation in the planning process, I felt better and my confidence in Ciao Andiamo grew. As we continued our conversations and planning, it was evident that their knowledge was extraordinary. They listened to our preferences and special requests, and crafted an unforgettable journey that was customized just for us. The flow of the trip they outlined was amazing. Each day allowed for something different, but always spaced appropriately with no repetitiveness.
Prior to our departure to Italy our ‘Passport’ arrived with all of our trip details, emergency contact information and additional recommendations. Because I had given over total control, there was still a part of me that was anxious about it all — was that guide really going to be in the lobby? Was that car really going to pick me up on time? From the moment we landed in Rome, everything was seamless. We did not have to think about one single detail and were ushered from one incredible experience to another. The accommodations at each stop were also top notch. Each driver, each guide we had there were not only incredibly knowledgeable, but also could not have been more friendly or personable.
We Could Hardly Believe Ourselves
With Ciao Andiamo we have done a private tour and a small group tour. The first portion of this trip was a private tour of the Amalfi Coast. The drive over to the Amalfi Coast was breathtaking, and the hotel they chose for us in Positano was truly a slice of heaven. We loved the boutique and family run feel of the hotel, and the view from our own balcony and the breakfast area was truly amazing. During one of our first days there, we had a driver and guide that spent the entire day with us.
From the moment we met Carmine, we felt like we had been friends for a very long time. He made our day one of the most memorable we have ever had. It was just like Ciao Andiamo described….”Italy Your Way: Our secrets”. Though we were tourists, Carmine took us to things that were off the beaten path and made us feel like locals. He heard me talking about lemons and limoncello so he drove us by a friends little shop in Ravello (Ettore Samarrco) where we met this wonderful elderly man who explained the whole limoncello process to us and then demanded we stay to taste all of his different creations. This old man was extraordinary, and he will be forever etched in my mind. Later in the morning, Carmine talked with us about our different options for lunch in this beautiful seaside town. It was time for Paul and I to confess that we did not like seafood. His response “no worries” and then asked if we minded if he make a call on our behalf.
Fast forward to one of the most amazing afternoons ever. He drove us far back into the hills of Amalfi, to his great Uncle’s winery. The entire family was there because they were harvesting, and they welcomed us like a part of their family. We toured the vineyard, got to help with the pressing, tasted the juice from the grapes and then were treated to an amazing al-fresco lunch with this entire family. We didn’t want to leave — we could hardly believe ourselves!
I Have Never as a Tourist Felt So Welcomed
For the second half of our trip we met up with a small group to travel to Tuscany and Umbria. I initially had some hesitation over the whole “small group” idea when planning the trip. That was immediately put to ease by our laid back, flexible guide, Max, that made sure everyone felt comfortable. His personality is infectious, and he made all of us feel like we’d all known each other forever. And when they say “small group” they mean small. Max ensured we saw authentic Italy. He has a true passion for his country that was palpable. He was not rigid and happy to accommodate if we wanted to stay in an area a little longer, duck into an extra building, etc. We travelled off the beaten path to small villages where we saw incredible landscapes and scenery. We were ushered into all of these small, remote wineries where there were no tourists or buses. At each winery we were made to feel like old friends. The welcome we received at each one of these places is indescribable. And the food. It was incredible. Certainly did not go hungry or thirsty on this portion of the trip! Each place was overly generous — whether with the sharing of wine or preparation of food.
We learned so much too. These people wanted to tell you about their land, their wine. I have never as a tourist felt so welcomed. It was an enriching experience. One of our other memorable experiences was the day we went to Assisi. We both had been to the Basilica of St Francis before, but wanted to see it again. We think it was meant to be. When we entered the church with our Basilica guide, a choir of monks was singing. We sat and listened to them for a long time, with no guide telling us to hurry along or pressuring us to move. Paul and I will never forget that chanting — ever. Another memorable moment in this region is when Max took us way off the beaten path to a medieval village. I had no idea what we were doing whatsoever when he knocked on this door in the middle of nowhere. It was to a gentleman’s candle making shop. He made these incredible beeswax, hand dipped candles. His passion for explaining his trade was awe-inspiring. When leaving Paul and I wanted to buy some to take back home. He refused payment. He told us that it was ‘his honor’ that we came to his shop and he gave them to us. Again, amazing.
Ciao Andiamo allowed us to discover Italy in ways we never imagined possible. Our relationship with them continues to grow as they treat everyone as a valued client. We have planned another extensive adventure with them, spanning North to South, this time including our teenage children. We will continue to use them any time we return to Italy.