Image: Siena, Italy
Mike Hewitt  /  Getty Images
With the Florence and the Heart of Tuscany package you'll visit the city of Siena famous for the Palio—a horse race held each August in its oval-shaped Piazza del Campo—and retains its medieval character.
updated 3/31/2008 11:45:31 AM ET 2008-03-31T15:45:31

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, seven nights' accommodations, and a four-day car rental from $979—plus taxes and fees of $310.

When: April 1-May 15, 2008

Gateways: Boston, Chicago, New York City; add $20 for D.C.; $65 for Charlotte; $99 for Philadelphia; $240 for Houston, L.A., San Francisco.

The fine print: Hotel taxes, car insurance, and breakfast daily are included. Airport taxes and fuel surcharges are $310 per person. Based on travel Monday through Thursday; weekend supplement is $30 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $350. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: April 15, 2008

Contact: TourCrafters, 800/482-5995, tourcrafters.com

Why it's a deal: A recent search on Kayak yielded lowest round-trip airfares to Florence in early May of $883 from New York City (Alitalia), $947 from Boston (multiple carriers), and $948 from Chicago (Air France), including all taxes and fees. For an additional $341 to $406 per person, TourCrafters includes the airfare as well as seven nights' accommodations and a car rental—and the added convenience of having the details planned for you.

Trip details: The Florence and the Heart of Tuscany package includes round-trip airfare on either Alitalia or Delta, arriving in either Florence or Pisa, depending on the U.S. gateway city and the travel dates. Note that if you arrive in Pisa, you'll have to pay extra for the hourlong train ride to Florence.

You'll spend three nights in Florence at the Hotel Roma, a converted 18th-century palace. The 57-room hotel faces the Santa Maria Novella church, just a few blocks away from the Duomo, which looms over the city's compact historic center. You can divide your time in Florence between its most famous cultural sights, like the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio, and shopping on posh via Tornabuoni and at the Mercato Nuovo.

Next, you'll pick up a rental car and drive to La Canonica di Fungaia, a five-room bed-and-breakfast outside the Tuscan town of Siena, about an hour from Florence. There's a large flower garden and a 2.5-acre park with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

Siena is famous for the Palio—a horse race held each August in its oval-shaped Piazza del Campo—and retains its medieval character. The city has a lovely Duomo of its own as well as many Gothic palaces and the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, a hospital that operated for over 1,000 years.

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With the car, you can easily explore other nearby towns such as the walled village of Monteriggioni, the Etruscan town of Volterra, and the wine-producing towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino.

Hotel upgrades in Florence and Tuscany start at an additional $19 per person. Hotel combinations that include an extra night in Florence start at an additional $196 per person.

The rental car is a compact (Fiat Panda or similar) provided by Maggiore; it has a manual transmission, which is well suited to Tuscany's hilly terrain and its towns' narrow streets. An upgrade to an automatic costs $450. The package includes unlimited mileage.

For more information on what to see and do, visit Tuscany's official tourism Web site.

Daytime temperatures in Tuscany in April and May are typically around 65 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the weather forecast, the latest exchange rate, and the local time at BudgetTravel.com before you go.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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