Welcome to Ciao Tours - Your Window on Italy

Unique, Personalized, Independent Tours of Italy

Arlene Schroh

Over the past 21 years Ciao Tours has built a reputation as a boutique Tour Operator specializing solely in Italy. “Do what you know how to do, and do it well!” This team of Canadian and Italian women has been together for many years because Italy, and Canada, is where we live and raise our families. We have succeeded in Italy by building relationships based on trust and dedication, which in turn makes our clients experience in Italy the very best! We pride ourselves on knowing the family ran wineries and Agritourisms intimately and are eager to show our clients the warm and friendly hospitality they have to offer. I personally invite you to Italy to become part of our family. Arlene Schroh Buon Viaggio!

Arlene Schroh, Owner/Director

Guest Reviews

The highest compliment you can give Ciao Tours is to recommend us to your friends, family & business associates. "I nostri clienti sono sempre parte della nostra grande famiglia…grazie!”

Dear Romina and Arlene,

We want to thank you so much for the amazing three-week Italy trip!

The organization that went into each of our stays — from drivers to tours to accommodations — was noticed and greatly appreciated.  Didi’s work behind the scenes and her regular contact with us while in Italy was superb.

Enzo in Sorrento, Fabio in Siena, and Deana in Rome were all professional and skillful drivers and guides, and we were especially pleased to have the same driver throughout the stay in Sorrento and Rome. Every tour guide was brilliant and helpful: Michael in Pompeii, Janet in Montepulciano, Alessandra in Assisi, Christina for the cooking lesson, and Thomas at the Vatican.  These are all exceptional people!

The booklet instructions were so helpful, and it was fun to have studied enough Italian that we were able to create some experiences on our own as well. We went to Sorrento’s museum and three tenors concert, ate at hidden gem restaurants in local neighborhoods, washed clothes at a self-service lavanderia, shopped at the Italian grocery stores, drove Ferraris and Lamborghinis “in our imaginations” at their museums, and so much more.

Wine tastings taught us so much about Italian wines. While one of Mark’s requests was to tour Sassicaia, we found out that we really had a much better experience at Ornellaia, according to local contacts in the Bolgheri region. Ornellaia is both a winery and, in essence, an art gallery. We highly recommend that tour if anyone ever asks. We also took advantage of a tasting at the spectacular wine cellar of Grant Hotel Continental in Siena. What a beautiful hotel and venue!

One of the best parts of having traveled in the past with Ciao, is that we were able to visit some old friends. Having had previous cooking classes with Maria Luisa and Eddo in San Gimignano, we contacted Stefano at the Agriturismo Poggiacolle to arrange a short visit and drop off gifts. Then it was on to his parents’ home in Piazza della Cisterna to do the same. Of course, “mangiamo” seems to be the anthem of all Italians, so were served polenta, pizza, and wine at their familiar kitchen table. “A snack,” according to Maria Luisa.  It was just lovely.

While it was certainly not a stain on our trip, our experience at the Acetaia Sereni was somewhat less than what we might expect in four-star accommodations. To be fair, we were there during the days their restaurant was closed, so staffing was minimal.  Lee already spoke to Didi regarding the concerns we had there.

The time that Nina, Lee, Mark, and I spent with family in the North was amazing as well. There is nothing quite as humbling as standing at the doors of our grandmother’s and grandfather’s respective birth homes, finding new relatives, and experiencing the culture from that perspective. Mama Mia, did we ever eat a lot of tortellini!

Mark tracked our daily steps and informed me that we walked over 130 miles during our time in Italy. Imagine what we could have done if it hadn’t rained a few of the days. We’re now back home working off a few pounds but reveling in the memories we made while gaining them. 

With deepest gratitude for a marvelous trip

Mark and Monica Plantan, Palm Coast, FL, May, 2019

Hi Arlene,

All this time, the memories of our wonderful trip have been percolating. It was truly the trip of a lifetime in many ways. We can’t thank you enough for all the superb planning done by Ciao Tours.

I have been telling everyone about your company and I liked your Facebook page quite a while ago – long before the trip. I enjoy the updates.

I want to make special mention of your two drivers – Deana and Luigi. They were both outstanding. They are warm, welcoming, professional and very knowledgeable. We enjoyed their company so much. (Both of them bought me coffee – Luigi at a place near Vesuvius, while Dave was climbing the volcano ….and the people looked up ‘iced coffee’ on the internet so they could make me some! Both drivers went above and beyond for us.)

We enjoyed Laura’s tour of Pompeii very much. She is a superb tour guide, who explained everything so well and brought everything to life. Our time with her was memorable. She, too, went above and beyond.

And what can I say about Claudia? We had many great communications with her, via What’s App and also by phone. She was terrific. We felt very well looked after. She was organized, kind and thoughtful. I missed Claudia after we got home

We loved the Amalfi Coast and the boat tour to Capri. The scenery was amazing in both places. Dave was struck by the incredible geological features – and surprisingly this became a favourite geological field trip for him. He was constantly pointing out different types of rocks, and looking up local geology info on his phone. For me, it was the history – I was keen on all of it. Luigi was great at talking to us on the Amalfi Coast drive. We learned a lot from him. The tour guide on the Capri small boat tour spoke less English – and we were the only English speakers on the boat. I hope they don’t advertise themselves as an English tour, because it really wasn’t. The people were kind, boat was comfortable and fun to be on, food was good – but he didn’t spend much time speaking to us in English – his language skills were so-so. Just our feeling about it. But – we did love the scenery on that tour, so we were glad to be on it.

The hotels you chose for us were wonderful. Hotel Minerva will live on in my heart for a very long time. It’s a magical place. So comfortable, so beautiful, kind people, very good food (those breakfasts!), etc etc. The view is breathtaking. Hotel Modigliani was most enjoyable for our last night in Rome. A lovely bijoux space with great people and a neat location. They made me coffee, and Dave tea, before our 4am pickup for the airport!

I haven’t yet finished sorting through all our hundreds of photos. That job will be coming up next. I’ll send you a few special ones when I’m ready to.

Once again, thanks for all your efforts. Our experience with Ciao Tours was everything we hoped for, and more! I will continue to spread the word.

Your extra kindness as a friend of Janet and Darryl was very much appreciated

Cheers and thanks –

 

Nan and Dave Lefebure, Salt Spring Island, BC, April 2019

Ciao Romina!

I’ll start by saying it was indeed a wonderful trip. So glad we chose Ciao Tours, I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.

Thought I would give you a full break down,
I’m sure it can help you in the future (speaking of which, looking at possibly Sicily and Sardinia next year :-))

Hilton Rome airport
As expected. Is was our choice and glad we made it. Could walk 5 minutes to pick up our car the next morning. Speaking of cars, one lesson learned is that if you want an automatic, they
will give you a car slightly bigger than many of the roads you will encounter. LOL!

Grande Albergo delle Nazioni, Bari
Not a choice I would have made, saw nothing 5* about it other than the view. Initially they put us in a closet in the back, Laura was kind enough to arrange a move which helped a bit. The ac wasn’t
working properly and the restaurant was mediocre. We had to eat there because it was so far from town center (old town). We did make the walk after arrival but didn’t have the strength to do it again
for dinner. I would have preferred to be more central. Of course, that’s a personal preference. If I’m in a city, I want to be in the middle of it.

Masseria Mongio, Otranto
What a wonderful place with equally wonderful people. Would love to return one day during harvest. This was a great choice. Had dinner there one evening and it tied for best meal in Italy (more on that later).

Borgo Canonica, Ostuni
Very charming and such a unique experience. People were great, dinner was not. So looking forward after the dinner at the Masseria, it wasn’t anything close. They actually served Shane the blood vein of the swordfish.
It was so bad that on our way home from Ostuni the next day, bought takeout from a supermarket. Other than that, a great place.

Il Palazzotto, Matera
Absolutely beautiful cave room (open bathroom, eek!), totally enjoyed our stay here.

Il Castello, Praia a Mare
What an awesome place made even better by Antonio. Unfortunately, the beach wasn’t yet open for the season so not much to do. We did visit Scalea which was lovely. Antonio made us the most
fabulous candlelight dinner (tied with Masseria for best of Italy, lol). Since nothing close by was open, he also made us a dinner the second night (with another couple, great convo) of local meats and
cheeses. That said, this place not for all people, pretty rustic with very limited hot water. We loved it though (long shower not withstanding)

Hotel Minerva
Also not a choice I would have made for similar reasons. Beautiful view of course but would have preferred to be closer to town. Very long walk (uphill on the way back) so forced to eat dinner there twice.
First night was good, second night not so much so night #3, we walked down to town for a pizza. Restaurant wait staff was excellent, housekeeping was not. Found dirty glasses in the minibar which even after
calling, remained in our room for the duration of our stay.

Hotel Duca D’Alba, Rome
As expected for Rome, room was tiny but comfortable. People were great as was the location.

Phew! Now that that is over with, wanted to mention first that Laura is a dear. She was very helpful and kind during our stay. All transfers went smoothly and our guides (Silvia in Lecce, Lauriana in Matera and
Roberto in Almafi) were excellent. Weather unfortunately was not but we made the best of it and had a really great time.

Will like you on Facebook and send a few pics to you website as soon as I get them uploaded.

Thank you so much again for all of your hard work to make our holiday so special.

Best regards,

 

Susan and Shane Shapiro, Stratford, CT, May 2019

Good Day Romina.

What a wonderful experience we had and your booklet helped us almost every step of the way!  As many sights as we saw, we know Italy has so many more to be explored!!

We enjoyed the tours very much but found that identifying our tour guide was very confusing.  The reason for this was there are so many tours meeting at the same general area that it was difficult to know who our tour operator would be.  Perhaps if they held up a sign to identify what tour company they are hosting would help.  We were not the only ones confused….almost all tourists were confused at some point.  Tour guides would hold up a coloured umbrella or flag of some sort so you could follow them but identifying them in the very beginning of each tour was difficult.  But we managed just fine.

Another helpful tip would be to tell tourists the name of a reputable taxi to take to and from tour locations.  For example, when we left the Colosseum, we looked for a taxi and found one who charged us a flat rate of E18.  The next day, we took another taxi for approximately the same distance for E9.  The taxi driver told us to always get into a cab with a fare meter because the ones who have no meter are either not registered or will overcharge.  We will know for next time 

But overall we have absolutely no complaints whatsoever – none!

Our driver in Rome (a wonderful lady whose name escapes me right now) was absolutely incredible!  She knew so much history and pointed out so many things to us along our ride with her to and from destinations.  She was fun.  She was Rome-savvy.  She was great and she deserves a hug (which we both gave her when we left Rome!).

All hotel staff at all 3 locations were very friendly and kind.  Very helpful and helped us many times.  The hotels were perfect but the staff made our stay even better.

The tour guides were excellent.  Knowledgeable and helpful, funny and interesting.

Romina…we had a GREAT time and Frank and I want to thank you for helping to make it a GREAT vacation!

Once we hit Frank’s hometown, we had a well deserved break (my feet were very happy to relax!  ) and started our tour of his hometown and surrounding areas.

Thank you Romina – it was a wonderful and very memorable vacation!!

Best Regards
Frank and Cheryl Chiminello

 

Frank and Cheryl Chiminello, Calgary, AB , April 2019
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