I spent a fair bit of time researching my options. The VBM and the Giotto wore two of the machines in my top 5 which also included the Bezzera Domus Galatea, the Diadema Junior Extra and the Expobar Minore.
Each machine had its merits, the VBM because of its greater steaming power (bigger boiler) but they always looked a bit boxy to me and the build quality at that time wasnt up to the standard of the other machines (my previous machine was a VBM Piccolo).
The Bezzera DG was a great looking machine with a good reputation and likewise the Diadema given the report of one of the other members who had recently bought one.
The Giotto ticked all the boxes and, in the end, it was a matter of price that pushed me that way. I know if I bought any of the other machines, their performance would be equivalent to the Giotto or in some cases, better. I have never once thought, "Gee, I wish I had bought the XXXX...". It has never disappointed me for the 12 months I have owned it.
In the end, it was what you would want. Appearance is important, performance more so. Coffee making needs, if you are only making a few coffees daily, you dont need a machine with a large boiler but I would not under-estimate the possibility of coffee consumption increasing with a better machine.
Bench space is also a consideration and the VBM Domobar Junior has a smaller footprint.
I have lost count of the number of times I have supplied the above info in one form or another but in the end, you need to go and see these machines in the ...errrr...metal. Get some hands-on. and think about your grinder too. You dont mention what you have now but if you have a budget of $3.5K, you will get a good combo for that sort of money.
Go and visit a sponsor or two (or three). Its an important purchase.