Photos: Italian dreams

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  1. Torino

    Street scenes of Torino, or Turin, the capital of Piedmont. This sub alpine territory is famous for the shroud of Turin, its cafes and cars. (Mike Hewitt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Sicily

    The ancient Greek Temple of Juno, located in the medieval city of Agrigento, on Sicily's southern coast. The Temple of Juno was built in the mid-5th century BC. It was dedicated to the goddess Hera (Greek name), or Juno (Roman name). (Alessandro Fucarini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Milan

    Cyclists pedal in downtown Milan's Duomo Square, renowned Milan's gothic cathedral in the background. Milanese were forced to renounce to their cars by local authorities calling for a car less day to fight pollution and encourage citizens to take public transportation. Some 150 cities all over Italy declared a car less day on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2000. (Luca Bruno / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Pisa

    Tourists visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Cathedral in the "Square of Miracle" Aug. 24, 2002 in Pisa, Italy. The Tower of Pisa is the bell tower of the Cathedral. Its construction began in August, 1173 and continued for approximately two hundred years. The tower began to lean due to interaction with the soil on which it was built. The tower reopened in December, 2001 after 10 years of stabilization work. (Franco Origlia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Pompei

    Aerial view from a mongolfiere (hot air balloon) as it flies over the ruins of the antic Pompei city, near Naples, May 27, 2005. (Mario Laporta / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Florence

    Michelangelo's famous marble statue of "David" (left) is bathed in natural light streaming through the dome of Florence's Accademia Gallery May 24, 2004, next to the "Pieta", another Michelangelo sculpture. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Rome

    Tourists visit the Foro Romano in Rome. The Roman Forum was the city's political and economic center during the Republican era and maintained its position into the Imperial age. It was mostly abandoned at the end of the 4th century. (Gabriel Bouys / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Turin

    Turin's Mole Antonelliana dome stands out on Turin's skyline, northern Italy. The building was originally designed as a synagogue, but been restored into the National Museum of Cinema. (Massimo Pinca / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Venice

    Gondolas wait for tourists near Saint Marks Square Sept. 12, 2005 in Venice, Italy. The city stretches across 117 small islands, is linked by over 150 canals and 400 bridges. G ondolas, water taxis and water buses are the only modes of transportation around this unique, vehicle free city. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Village in the mist

    Italy's cities, villages and capitals offer a plethora of adventures. (Tino Soriano / National Geographic via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 12/29/2008 1:22:48 PM ET 2008-12-29T18:22:48

Florence and Rome, air/hotel/train, 5 nights, from $849 per person
The real deal:
Round-trip airfare on a major carrier, five nights accommodations, breakfast daily, first-class rail tickets between Florence and Rome, and fuel surcharges, from $849 per person — plus about $90 in taxes.

When: Departs Jan. 16, 23, 30, Feb. 6, 20, 2009; add $100 for Jan. 9, Feb. 13; $200 for Feb. 27, Mar. 6, 13, 20; $400 for Jan. 2.

Gateways: New York City; add $28 for Chicago, $37 for Miami, $94 for D.C., $95 for Houston, $161 for L.A., $197 for Seattle, and $202 for Denver; additional gateways available.

The fine print: Does not include taxes of about $90 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement from $200.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Gate 1 Travel, 800/682-3333, gate1travel.com.

Why it's a deal: Looking for the convenience and value of a travel package, but don't want a scheduled group itinerary? The Florence & Rome by Rail package arranges all the transportation and lodging for a visit to two favorite Italian cities and leaves you to explore on your own. For comparison purposes, we did a Kayak search and found a $559 round-trip flight between New York City and Rome in mid-January (Continental). For $380 more per person, Gate 1 covers airfare as well as five nights of accommodations and the train trip, all in one click.

Lodging: The elegant 331-room Grand Hotel Mediterraneo in Florence, along the Arno River near Santa Croce, and the Hotel Portamaggiore in Rome, which has a roof garden and is named for the ancient arched city gate it faces.

More: Add tours from $45 per person. There are also upgrade options for hotels from $30 per person. Other two city combinations (among Rome, Florence and Venice) are available.

Slideshow: The Eternal City

Rome, air/hotel, 5 nights, from $956

The real deal: Round-trip airfare on American, five nights' accommodations, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and a half-day sightseeing tour of Rome, from $956 per person — plus about $30 in taxes.

When: Departs daily Jan. 3 to March 31, 2009.

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Gateways: New York City; add $54 from D.C., $99 from Chicago, $121 from Dallas, and $204 from L.A.; additional cities available.

The fine print: Does not include airport taxes of about $30 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $225. Note that these rates are based on a March 2, 2009 departure and that rates may fluctuate.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: American Airlines Vacations, 800/321-2121, aavacations.com.

Why it’s a deal: If you want time to really begin getting to know Rome, on your own and with the help of a guide, try this package. A five-night stay at the hotel would cost about $427 per person including taxes; add that to the sample Kayak airfare of $559, and you could expect to pay about $986 when booking independently. That's exactly what you'll pay for this American Airlines package, which also includes a sightseeing tour of Rome.

Lodging: The Hotel Diana in Rome near Termini Station and the Teatro dell'Opera. One year-round perk: a roof garden and restaurant.

Included highlights: On your included tour, you'll see monuments such as the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum.

More: There are a few hotel upgrade options: Add $20 per person for the Hotel Oxford, $48 for Hotel Regno, $58 for the River Palace Hotel, $220 for Hotel delle Nazioni, and $764 for Parco dei Principi.

Rome, air/hotel/guided tours, 6 nights, from $1,799 per person
The real deal:
Round-trip airfare on Alitalia, six nights' accommodations, hotel transfers, most meals, sightseeing tours by bus and the services of an English-speaking guide, from $1,799 per person — plus about $95 in taxes.

When: Daily departures Jan. 3 through Feb. 13, 2009; add $60 for March 16-31; $100 for Feb. 14 through March 15.

Gateways: New York City and Boston; add $60 for Chicago and Miami; additional cities available.

The fine print: Does not include airport taxes and fees of about $95 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement varies depending on departure date.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: Sceptre Tours, 800/221-0924, sceptretours.com.

Why it’s a deal: This package is best for those who want a guided trip with lots of sightseeing arranged for them. The trip price breaks down to $316 per person per night, and for that, all the details are arranged for you, including transfers, sightseeing tours and all meals, except for two lunches.

Lodging: The Hotel Diana (also used in the American Airlines package described above).

Included highlights: Three bus tours of the city (one focusing on imperial Rome, one on classic Rome, and one on Rome at night) and a visit to the Vatican Museum. You'll also take excursions to Florence on one day and to Naples and Pompeii on another. See the full itinerary.

Before you go: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is not required. The temperatures in Rome will range between the mid-30s and mid-50s Fahrenheit in February.

Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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