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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General tour queries

Contacts

Costs

Made-to-measure or custom-made tours

Other questions

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General tour queries

 

What areas do you go to in Italy?
Each of our tours has a different focus, and each tour is based in one (or two) regions of Italy. In 2016 we offer five tours: 2 different tours in Tuscany (Firenze/ Lucca/ Etruscan coast and central Tuscany), Sicily &Sardinia, and a taste of  northern regions of Italy across from the Veneto to Piemonte, and one in Emilia Romagna.   Our Food for Thought: Wrapping Emilia Romagna in May  reaches from Ravenna in the east to the far west of the Region of Emilia Romagna, including the capital of Bologna of course.   Big Island Hopping: Sensational Sicily and Sardinia provides 6 nights in Sicilia/Sicily and 7 in Sardegna/Sardinia.   Our third tour in 2016 Following the Medici Family: friend, lovers and enemies is mostly in on various parts of Tuscany, where the Medici family lived and ruled,  but with a few stops outside this Region, including one night in Rome near the end of the tour.  Tuscan Treasures and Tipples: around the Truscan Coast and the Island of Elba is our fourth tour, in September, in Tuscany. Taste Travels and Tiny Towns: from Venice to Torino will be our tour in October, to provide for time in truffle country side in Piemonte.  Additional tours which may be available for private groups include an Italian Healthy Indulgence and Slow Food tour, 99% in Toscana/Tuscany, with a day trip into Liguria to see Portovenere and the Cinque Terre. Captivating Coasts: Sorrento, Amalfi, Positano, Capri  tour focuses on these coastal places of interest in Campania, and also a few inland towns.

How long are the tours?
The duration of tours differs: Some  of our tours are for 10 days (9 nights), two are of 12 days, although the  Big Island Hopping: Sensational Sicily and Sardinia is 2 weeks. Of course it is also possible to book 2 adjacent tours (one day or a few  days break bewteen each one) if you wish to spend a longer time in Italy with us.  And there is the option for 2 groups of friends each year to enjoy their own “custom-designed” Italian tour, with duration of their choice - from one week to 2 weeks.

How small are the groups?
Very small. We have a maximum of 8 adults on each of our tours

Do you have a minimum number for a tour, or cancel a tour if numbers are not reached?
Our minimum number for a group is 4 people, however we have never had to cancel a tour after a client has booked. On the very rare occasion when we had fewer than 4 people, we discussed and arranged an alternative option with our clients. However we reserve the right to cancel a tour and refund all fees paid if minimum numbers are not met , not less than 29 days prior to the scheduled start date.

Do you have a tour guide with the group all the time?
We have an escort/leader/guide with each tour at all times, staying at the same hotel or villa with the group. When we need a guide for particular cities, historic or art sites, we have several excellent registered guides to choose from, and our small group  has sole access to that guide, which offers our clients the opportunity to interact, question, and actually hear the guide.

Could I speak to someone else who has been on one of your tours?
Certainly. Just contact us at Ciao Bella Tours and we will provide a few names and email addresses or phone numbers for you to make the contact.

Do you have free days?
Our tours are designed to be stress-free for our clients, and deliberately include relaxation time. There is something exciting or interesting organized to do each day: nonetheless if a client would like to remain at the villa or hotel one day when the group goes exploring, that’s also of course an option. There is absolutely no pressure to do more than you want to do each day! And, because we  stay for a whole week at a villa in our  Following the Medici Family: friend, lovers and enemies tour or our Italian  Healthy Indulgence & Slow Food tour in Tuscany it is quite possible to give yourself a free day if you wish to do so.

What are the villas like?
We have quite a number of villas that we use, and they are of varying standards, location, architecture and interior design and function. In Italy there is no consistent format or formula for indicating a villa standard or an agriturismo, so we try to be as clear and unambiguous as possible when we describe our residences. Some are quite grand and luxurious, with authentic antique furniture; others are more informal and traditional with more relaxed furnishings and fixtures. We do ensure each bedroom has a bathroom, and in most cases  the villa has a swimming pool.

What type of hotels do you use?
We choose hotels not only on their star rating, but also on location, service and comfort- and of course our experiences. Having said that, our hotels are usually 4star or 5star, unless we decide to use a 3star for a particular reason (either no appropriate 4star hotels available in the area, or we have found a particular 3star  hotel to be more suitable for our requirements). We have also found that some 3stars are better than a 4star hotel. The star rating in Italy is based on a variety of things: we do not always need a restaurant (mostly one of the requirements for a 4star rating) at our hotel, for example. But we rarely use a 3* hotel.

Can you provide more detailed information about the tours?
Yes, certainly. Please make contact with us by email or by telephone. If you are ringing long distance, you may like to leave us your name and telephone number and we will return your call at a time to suit. We find a telephone conversation to be a much better way of explaining our tours, and are pleased to make contact with you to discuss them wherever you may be calling from – completely obligation free of course.

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Contacts

Could I make contact with someone who’s been on a tour?
Certainly. Just make contact with us at Ciao Bella Tours and we will provide a few names and email addresses or phone numbers for you to make the contact with them.

How can I contact you?
You can make contact in which ever way is most suitable for you:
Telephone: Within Australia: (03) 95 83 30 87(03) 95 83 30 87 From outside Australia: +61 3 95 83 30 87+61 3 95 83 30 87
Mobile: 040 9583308040 9583308 From outside Australia: +61 40 95 83 308+61 40 95 83 308
Email: mardie@ciaobellatours.com.au OR ciaobellatours@gmail.com

If you'd like to see some short videos taken on a few of our tours, you might like to check out our YouTube channel ciaobella241  (www.youtube.com)

 And our BLOG is http://italiantravelsciaobellatours.blogspot.com.au or you can access it via Google by putting in the search "Ciao Bella Tours Australia blogspot"  Remember to put in "Australia" as there is also a Ciao Bella Tours in the USA.

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Costs

Are your tours a lot more expensive than package tours with the big operators?
Generally are tours are priced higher than package tours such as Contiki, Busabout, and other operators with large numbers in their groups - but the two types of tour are chalk and cheese, and can’t really be compared.

Our holiday-tours have a maximum of 8 people in each group, with personalised attention to detail: they are designed to be relaxed, stress-free, warm, friendly and fun. Three meals a day are included in the costing, and we get to dine in some excellent restaurants and trattorie and enoteche where big groups are not welcome or permitted. Moreover, clients get to choose from the restaurant’s menu, rather than eat a cheaper packaged choice chosen by someone else. Sometimes we have a cook travelling with us, or available, also. Because our tours do not change accommodation frequently clients can remain at the villa and sit by the pool or go for a walk nearby if they need to give themselves a rest day at home: a bus won’t leave at 7am for the next town without them! In fact a bus will never leave at 7am! (Not even our usual 8 passenger Mercedes!) All the villas (except in Campania) we use for our advertised tours have a swimming pool. There are private bathroom facilities for every bedroom, and people travelling alone on a single supplement do not have to share a bathroom. Most of our travel is done in a comfortable, air-conditioned Mercedes or small  people-mover, with a professional driver. We do not walk through cities and towns following a “guide” holding an umbrella or frog on a stick, and no-one has ever been lost. You’d choose Ciao Bella Tours if you wanted to explore Italy with a small group, and have a relaxed, stress-free, well-arranged, all-inclusive convivial holiday, with lots of local content!

What do Ciao Bella Tours cost?
Our 2016 tours range between $AUD6300 and $7999 per person, twin share, depending on the type of tour, length of tour (10, 12 or 14 days), location and inclusions. All our tours are inclusive of all land transportation and meals.

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Made-to-measure tours

If I had an idea for my own tour could you arrange that?
Yes, we can do that too. We are happy to work with you to design a tour to suit your special interests – be they particular cities, a theme, a gourmet-golfer in Piedmont or Tuscany, a place for a birthday week etc. We can design a tour to include a fulltime leader/escort, or just design the itinerary, or anything in between. Our only requisite for an all inclusive “made-to-measure” tour with an escort is that there needs to be 6 or more adults (a tour cost is more expensive if there are fewer than 6).

Can you organize a holiday for us based on a particular Italian theme?
Certainly. We can suggest a theme or you may already have your own ideas. You may dream of having a family reunion holiday. Or an historical tour may focus on Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence for example. Or a book club holiday, tracking the locations of or backgrounds for identifiable literary works. Or film locations. Or wine and olive oil tastings across two or three regions. Gourmet golfing tours. Outlet shopping tours. Regional cooking holidays. The possibilities are endless!

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Other questions:

What can I do in case of emergencies in Italy?
Obviously there are degrees of emergency. If you need to contact the Australian Embassy following a theft or severe accident we have after-hours telephone numbers as well as regular office hours numbers. Carabinieri (police) are also a telephone call away. Tour leaders have a mobile phone and usually have access to a land line, and carry a list of emergency telephone numbers. In addition, we advise clients to always leave detailed information regarding their whereabouts in Italy with friends or family at home, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggest you register on their site prior to departing from Australia, in case of emergencies at home or whilst you are away (www.italy.embassy.gov.au or www.smarttraveller.gov.au ). And, of course, ensure you have excellent travel insurance.

Do you do any language teaching / tapes etc before departure, so I can learn to ask for basic directions and so on?
We do no formal language teaching, but have tapes available for loan if clients want to become accustomed to the lovely Italian language before they leave for their tour. And we can recommend excellent language schools in Australia if you do want to take formal lessons before you leave. However one of the advantages of being part of a Ciao Bella Tours holiday is that you do not have to speak Italian, as groups are always accompanied by an English and Italian speaking escort. Informally however, our co-travellers usually pick up some words or phrases from our everyday encounters: “Buon Giorno!”, “Ciao!” , “Come’e stai?” are obvious ones!!

Can I ship wine back to Australia if I want to buy lots of wine?
Yes, this is certainly possible. However it is at a quite considerable cost! Although it is less expensive for the Americans to ship home crates of wine it is very expensive to ship back to Australia. An alternative option is to make contact with wine shops in Australia who import particular wines from Italy. (Ciao Bella Tours can provide you with suggestions of importers we have found to be helpful). Or you could consider buying a few bottles and pack into your luggage (NOT your carry-on luggage, as it would be confiscated) - although that wine may incur tax as you come back in to the country.

Do you have a newsletter?
Yes, for several years now we  produce a 2page Newsletter every month. If you would like to register to receive our Newsletters by email, please contact us at mardie@ciaobellatours.com.au stating “newsletter” in the heading.

Do you do tours in other countries as well as Italy?
No, our specialty is Italy. Italy is our passion and our hope is that it becomes (or is!) yours too.

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