My only experience with Giotto has been with a very small ballhead I bought to use on a monopod. I have not used it much but it's a smoother and better little head than a Bogen/Manfrotto head I originally was using.

I've not heard anything bad about Giotto tripods as a whole. I would take anything said with a grain of salt. Personal experience varies and people have different expectations from the things they buy and use. I know Honda autos have wonderful reputations but I had lousy luck with my one experience with a Honda. Don't expect me to say anything good about a Honda even though my experience is not typical.

As for ballheads--Arca Swiss has a devoted following that rivals religious zealotry. I tend to avoid anything praised in those terms. I have a Gitzo 1377M (I think) ballhead that I've used for about 5 years and still find to be outstanding. I think it's still around $200.