Italy is one of the most visited European destinations. The country contains 65% of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, and many families can trace their heritage there. Today we review a partner we work with, Ciao Italy Tours, to plan magical Italian vacations.
What is Ciao Italy Tours?
- What can a “one-stop shop” tour company provide?
- How was our recent experience with Ciao Italy Tours?
- Types of tours they offer.
- Itinerary examples
Question: Where in Italy do you dream of visiting?
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Episode 122 Transcripts
Episodes are transcribed with artificial intelligence, so there are likely some highly amusing translations!
Ryan: Hello and welcome to All Things Travel. Italy is one of the most visited European destinations. The country contains 65% of Unesco sites in the world, and many families can trace their heritage to Italy. Today, we’re going to discuss a partner that we work with to plan magical Italian vacations. You’re listening to All Things Travel, episode 122, original air date, August 17th, 2022.
so Shayne as travel advisors, we work with several companies that would be considered quote-unquote one-stop shops when planning, trips to a specific destination. And thinking about it from your standpoint as a travel advisor, what does a one-stop shop do for you as you’re planning a vacation for clients?
Shayne: I think about an all-inclusive trip, a cruise, maybe an Adventures by Disney vacation where you. have one person or one company that, and it’s your entire trip. Everything is taken care of, but there’s a few cases where the one we’re gonna talk about today takes it even another step or step back, even that makes it so nice.
To work with them. Am.
Ryan: Yeah, I agree. And I think it’s one of those things where, when you’re a one stop shop and you have one focus, like the company, we’re gonna talk about Ciao Italy today. That is their thing. They’re not doing European vacations, they’re doing Italy and they can do it big. They can do it small.
They can do it cheap. They can pull out the red carpet and, but they know that destination better than most. And I think that’s what a one stop shop tour company can provide.
Shayne: Yeah. The phrase stay in your lane. That is what they do. They only do Italy and they do it probably better than just about anyone else.
Ryan: And I’m excited to talk about them because we were able to use Ciao Italy for our vacation last month and really had a good experience. And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk about them today to help people think about different options when planning an Italian vacation.
But first, you know, that I wanna know where in the world is All Things Travel.
Shayne: We’re going north of the border again
Ryan: of the border. All right, where are we going?
Shayne: at Toby K Ontario.
Ryan: Very nice. now? Where is
Shayne: looks like it’s a suburb of Toronto. They’re just west of it on Lake Ontario. I wanna call it Ontario lake Ontario.
Ryan: that is an incorrect pronunciation. We’ve had this discussion Shayne.
Shayne: I’ve heard it both ways. And I think it’d be a great night to hang out at south side Johnny’s bar and grill.
Ryan: Well, that sounds fun.
Shayne: Yeah, I know it looks like a cool place, a lot of outdoor seating and inside there’s a stage for some live bands and those are two things that I love, especially hanging out in Fort worth yesterday, where it was a hundred degrees all day. The Toronto area sounds really nice.
Ryan: All right. Well, you know, I’ve had some recent problems with air Canada. And with the Toronto airport. So I am glad our listener for Ontario is listening and I’m sure. That they are much better than the Toronto airport and air Canada. And I would love for them to reach out to either Shayne or I you can do that on the Facebook group.
You can do that via email because we have a great gift for being featured on the show. I, I actually have been to Ontario a lot and I absolutely love it. But yeah, we’ve had some bad air candidate experiences
Shayne: We need to find a way to work that story into an episode.
Ryan: Well, Ciao, Italy, Shayne, just to give people kind of an overview. It’s, what’s called a tour operator. So if you hear us say tour operator today, they’re just basically a company that organizes, travel and tours, and they specialize in all types of travel arrangements in Italy.
And they’ve been around since 2000 and. They offer customized itineraries daily site, seeing tours in private and also in groups, private transfers, hotel reservations, train tickets, car rentals, Villa rentals, and fully escorted tours. There are one stop shop for all Italy travel needs. They’re based out of New York city.
They work with both travelers and with travel agents What they really like to do is they say they can take any trip from a simple airport transfer to the most complicated, customized itinerary for individuals, small groups, and. Large groups. And I have to tell you, I, when I worked with this company, I was really happy. They had the knowledge, they understood what I needed.
I gave them kind of a list of here are my wants and everything came back exactly how I wanted it. So I’m excited to talk about them today.
Shayne: just the range of types of trips they can offer can help you out in any travel situation. If you’re going to.
Ryan: the different types of tours that they can do. They can do independent tours. So you just say, I want to go by myself or with my family. And you just get, provide me the information so that I know how to do it. They can do escorted tours, which is what we think about with a tour group. You know, maybe it’s a bus, maybe it’s a train, but it’s a larger group that’s traveling around. They can do a pre or post cruise tour. So you think about Shayne, a lot of Mediterranean cruises go in and out of Rome.
So you can add things like. They can do daily sighting tours. They can do shore excursions. They can do private transfers, which they did for us, or they can do private group tours. So with our family, one of the things that I asked was for a tour in Rome, and I thought it was gonna be a group tour like what I’ve been on before, but it was actually just for the four of us and a guide.
So that was pretty cool. We, I hadn’t had that experience before that was really neat.
Shayne: that is a really nice variety of options because whether you’re just wanting to get from the airport to your hotel for the cruise that you can just buy the transfer from them, or if you just want to, like you did we talked about your Adventures by Disney, Italy vacation back in episode one 19.
And you were able to add on some pre and post trip itineraries, and then if you want, you could have them plan your entire
Ryan: You can do anything from a train ticket or an airline transfer all the way to a 10 day trip in Italy, where everything is planned out for you and you’re set to go. So that’s what I like about it is it really jump starts. The conversation with a client about where, what should we do in Italy?
How should we go about this? So just to remind you, this is how I use Ciao Italy. It was, this was kind of my bookends from a, B D I, we knew we were gonna get into Rome two days before our tour started and we knew we were gonna end up in Venice. And our flight situation was such that flying in and out of Rome made sense.
And so we had to figure out how to get from Venice back down to Rome and get ready for our flight home. So this is what I did. I emailed Ciao Italy. I was put. Initially with Renee Mascara Dugo who her and her husband Guido are the owners of Ciao Italy. And so I worked with her initially, and then I started to work with Guido more.
And I said, basically, this is what I want. We’re getting to Rome on this date. I want to transfer from the airport, a private transfer for my family. I want two nights in a three star hotel. I want two rooms with two double beds, because I knew what this type of hotel was and it’d be really hard to get a quad room.
And so I just figured let’s just break up. That’s how we were gonna do it on the the adventures by Disney, but I wanted to make sure our hotels had breakfast. I want a food tour in Rome. I also then at the end of the trip, and then we would be joining a, B D that next day. So then I knew when we were in Venice, I said, I want train tickets from Venice to Rome.
And I like business class. I like one night in a hotel. And then I, the same type of hotel that I asked for at the beginning, and then I’d like a transfer back to the airport and it and that was essentially the email was here are the dates. Here’s what I want. Within a day or two. I mean, I got everything back.
It was, you know, here is a quote, you know here is based on what you’re talking about. The hotel actually ended up being the same type, the same hotel. So we were comfortable doing that. You know, for, for all three nights everything was written out the way we wanted. Nice and easy.
I think there was one or two things we had to change on the quote, but all in all, it was exactly like what we had. There was also tour that we were gonna do in Venice that they canceled the time that we would be able to do it. And so that was originally on the itinerary, but we took that off. they gave me an easy payment portal. So as soon as we agreed on everything, they sent me the contract, I signed it. And there was an online portal that I paid the deposit and I paid the balance and it was nice and easy. before the trip that I was given a packet via email that had our train tickets in it it had general information about everything.
So I knew where we were gonna be. . had also gave me emergency information in case there was a problem. So then we went to Italy and you know how you can best laid plans. Right? You set all this up, you think it’s all gonna go. And then you get to the airport, you’ve flown forever. You get your bags.
And you’re like, okay, now what is this actually gonna be like, because Shayne I’ve been in that situation. Right. And you think you have everything mapped out. You think that it’s gonna go. Driver was right there, had our, name, placard, ready to go. Had a private Mercedes van there waiting for us.
No problem at all. The drivers on both ends were prompt. The driver taking us back to the airport on our last day was early. Right there, everything was great. Everything was clean, everything was professional. The hotel was all set exactly like how we wanted reservations. Were there. No problem at all.
And we had that train ticket emailed us to ahead of time. And it was exactly what I wanted. It was a nice, comfortable business class train ticket. The tour in Rome was great. Like I said, we showed up where we were supposed to be thinking we were gonna be with, you know, a dozen other folks and all of a sudden.
We had Grazia who came up and she was our tour guide for the food tour and it was the four of us and her, and that was really cool. I think my kids were kind of like, we’d rather have a big group. This is kind of weird, but I’m like, this is awesome.
Shayne: our boring parents.
Ryan: so yeah, it was great. It was everything that I wanted was set to.
Shayne: That was a pretty specific list that you sent them of what you
Ryan: Yeah, it was, and some of that is because I’ve travel. A lot in Europe, in these types of settings where I know the pieces that I’m gonna need, that I, I was pretty darn specific. And I think that was helpful. Again, work with a travel advisor who can help you anticipate some of those things, Hey, you’re gonna want this to be private.
You’re gonna want to have breakfast at the hotel, et cetera, et cetera.
Shayne: right because Ryan or I will help you with that list will help you make that list and send it to Ciao Italy. So that you don’t have to be intimidated that Ryan had a big specific list like
Ryan: No. No, absolutely. Yeah.
Shayne: And that’s pretty important too. I know you’ve been to Rome a few times, so you’re pretty comfortable arriving at that airport, but if it’s your first time traveling to Italy, having that transfer taken care of ahead of time and them showing up with a sign with your name on it is really comforting when you see them and know exactly how you’re getting to the hotel or wherever it is you’re going.
Ryan: Right. And so I knew with Rome specifically, I mean, you’re talking about a a half hour drive minimum from the airport to get to downtown central Rome. And so. Maybe even 45 minutes or closer to an hour, depending on the traffic. And I’m like, well, we’re either gonna take a train or we’re gonna take a taxi.
I mean, we’re, we’re not just there. We’re gonna have to have somebody drive us. And so, you know, and, and I know from traveling with my family, that the, the last thing that they want to do after a, a long, stressful travel day is get on a bus with a bunch of people, or get into a taxi where they’re unsure.
What it’s. And so that private transfer becomes that moment of, okay. Take a breath. We’re in this quiet spot. We’re here. Let’s just decompress for a little bit while we get to the hotel.
Shayne: So Ryan, what if you wanted to go to Italy or go to Italy again and
maybe and travel to somewhere other than Rome or Venice? How many activities does Ciao Italy have outside of those two major cities?
Ryan: Well, let’s look at for instance, the Amalfi coast, because that would provide a very different type of Italian vacation. You’ve got anything from a one day trip from Rome by train. Where you meet your local driver for a day in Naples, and they’ll show you the beautiful Amalfi coast. This starts at $317 all the way up to a full blown out Italian trip that.
Includes the Amoy coast for 3,500 hours where you’re in Venice, Florence, Amoy coast and Rome for 12 days, 11 nights. And I will say with some of this pricing, it does matter how many people are in your group or if the group fills up. So if you’re doing a private group, Kind of, as you’re able to fill it up, the cost goes down per person.
or if you’re joining a regular tour group as that group fills, it impacts your trip as well. Just to give you an idea. If you were combining this with. A cruise in and out of Rome. so one of the things that you can do is, you have a a cruise that stops In Rome or Chi Veia, which is not Rome again understanding that as a travel advisor or as a traveler that you know, you’re not in Rome necessarily, you’re a bit away from that, you can do a Rome and Vatican private tour, shore excursion for $305 per person.
So very comparable to what you’re gonna find on your cruise itineraries. So for instance, let let’s break this one down. Our English speaking driver will greet you as you disembark the ship and take you from Chitty of to Rome. Juve is the port. Where you will meet an expert tour guide for a private tour of the Vatican museums, including the Sistine chapel and St.
Peter Basilica. This tour will lasts about four hours and depending on time, we may have a chance to do some additional sites seeing before returning to the ship, travel time from Chi avecia pier to Rome is about an hour and a half depending on travel. So what’s include.
English speaking driver with car minivan, your disposal tour guide in Rome entrance fees. and it does make a note that you can’t do this on Sunday because the Vatican museums are closed. you have everything that you want to do there. If you wanna spend time at the Vatican, maybe you wanna swing by some of the other sites like the tra fountain or the Spanish steps or things like that, you know, $305 is quite a reasonable cost for, for.
So to give you a sense of what we did when we were in Rome, Shayne and I specifically asked for a food tasting tour of Rome. Because I’ve done food tours before. I know it’s just such a great way to get comfortable with where you are. And this was just so much fun. And basically we met our guide at one of the fountains and we had a walking tour and it was about three hours long.
and I would say we probably stopped at about half a dozen different places. So she talked about the market. We started at a market. She talked about the cultural aspect and the history of the market. We had espresso and a pastry. Rome is famous for how they prepare artichokes.
We had that, we had little soupies, which are like little appetizer things we had. The Roman pizza, which is really good. And I wanna say we even had a couple more things over the course of that morning and that was $94 a person.
Shayne: did you end up returning to any of those restaurants
later in your
Ryan: So, so AC actually we did we actually, one of the places that we really liked, the last place where we had the appetizers and the, and wine, there was a wine stop and appetizer. We actually ordered Uber eats from there to our hotel one night while we were in Rome. Cuz we, we really enjoyed that so much.
Shayne: And I don’t wanna stray too far off the topic, but I think that’s pretty interesting that you, you took this tour here that took you right to the best places to eat. Maybe not the best places, but I guess some authentic Italian
Ryan: Oh, it, it, no, it was totally authentic. It was not, you know, there, there was not a chain, anything you know, it was, you know, the pastry espresso was from a local place. The pizza was from local place. And I should say the, the pizza, I actually had several times because it, it was more, almost like a sandwich than it was a pizza.
And so as I found it, I kept I kept having it over and over because it was, it was really yummy and, and really good. And again, it was a private trip, so that was really cool. You know, that we were able to do that just with our family and with with a local guide.
Shayne: Because Ryan and I in complete agreement on if you travel to a place like this, then you want to eat as much like in this. An Italian or a Roman, as you can, you don’t wanna go there and, either wing it and hope that you find the right places. And then the, the last thing you wanna
do is go to Rome and eat at the same places that you might eat back here in the United States.
Shayne: and the fact that Ciao Italy offers options, even options like that, to help to help add little flavor, pun intended to your Italian vacation. I think it’s just pretty.
Ryan: so to give you the idea of what a full tour would be with Ciao Italy. So this is their Fantasia Italian, a taste of north and south. This is a 10 day nine night tour, and this is really for somebody that really wants to have the full Italian experience. You arrive in Rome. and you have a full day in, in Rome to see everything.
And, And so it’s very much a, it’s very much a highlight tour. Although you do come back to Rome later in the trip. So day one, you arrive in Rome and you have a tour of Rome. Day two is small towns. So you’re in a CC and Sienna where you visit the basilic of St. Francis. You go to Sienna to see you know, Tuscany, and then you arrive in Florence in time for dinner the next day, then you’re in Florence and you have an option to go to the tower of PI.
Day four is the magic in bologna, Padua and Venice. And by, so by the end of the day, you’re in Venice, after being in bologna and taking a brief tour or a brief stop at Padua Padua, and then you’re in Venice and you are doing everything in Venice and you have a full day, day five in Venice, day, six you’re back in Tuscany.
And you’re enjoying. Day seven, then you’re back in Rome where you then skip the line and have access to the Vatican museum, the Sistine chapel, things like that day eight. Then you head south to Sorento where you have traditional Neapolitan pizza. You go to Pompe to visit the eruption site for Mount FAUS.
Shayne: Very cool.
Ryan: Day nine. Then you have the star treatment in Capri board, a boat for the island of Capri. And depending on sea conditions, visit the famous blue grotto, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then Rome Capri at your leisure and then RO, and then that night you return back to Rome and the next day Your your tour ends. So this includes nine night, first class hotel accommodations with daily breakfast, transportation by deluxe motor coach bilingual tour escort accommodations in four star and four star hotels, three dinners, four lunches. Panoramic visits as per itinerary, Vatican entrance fees, round trip, airport transfers.
So depending on your dates and depending on the size of your group, the price for this 10 day trip per person is $2,687. So under $2,700 per person for this trip of.
Shayne: That is a great price. Oh,
now I’m like, and I’m kinda looking at the pictures of on the side as you’re going through it and this, it just looks incredible. It just looks like everything you dream about on one of these types of trips.
Ryan: Yeah. So, I mean, just to kind of wrap us up, I mean, one of the reasons I’m excited about a, a company likehow Italy is it can really make italian vacations, stress free. I mean, all of the things on my trip, the transfers, the train tickets, the, the hotels for just one or two nights, that is always a hassle when you’re traveling.
Cause I mean, obviously I was going there to be with adventures by Disney, but I knew I was gonna have to do these other things. They took the stress right out of it and, and that was really important to me and my family. And so I, I really stand behind this.
Shayne: Well, we would love to help you plan your next amazing Italian vacation, and we can help you work with Ciao Italy to make sure that you can give them as specific list as Ryan did. Ryan and I are both travel advisors with Creating Magic Vacations. You can reach out to Ryan at R Y a. At creating magic vacations.com or to me S H a Y N firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan: Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation, we work with you to plan a trip perfect for your interest, saving you time, money, and stress.