The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, six nights' accommodations, most meals, ground transportation by bus, and tours, from $1,099 per person — plus an estimated $345 in taxes.
Departing: Oct. 31, Nov. 7, 14, 21, Dec. 5, 2008; Feb. 15, March 6, 13, 20, 2009.
Gateways: New York City.
The fine print: Does not include airport taxes and fees of $75, a $270 fuel surcharge, or incidental gratuities. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $260. Round-trip airfare, six nights' accommodations, ground transportation, most meals, entrance fees, and hotel taxes and transfers are included. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Based on availability; July 31.
Contact: Celtic Tours World Vacations, 800/833-4373, celtictours.com.
Why it's a deal: A recent Kayak search produced a $718 flight (including taxes) on Iberia from New York City to Rome in early November. For $726 more (including taxes), this package includes not just your flight, but six nights in a hotel, tours and entrance fees, and most meals — all in one stop. Consider that the price breaks down to about $240 per day. You'll be on Eurofly, which has lower-quality in-flight services and perks compared with Iberia, but has a record of being just as safe and efficient.
Trip details: The Southern Italian Odyssey package will fly you overnight from New York City to Rome via Eurofly. You'll be picked up and then head to Formia, on the Mediterranean coast. It's about halfway between Naples and Rome, so be prepared for a two-hour trip via bus. When you arrive at the 100-room Grand Hotel Fagiano, which will be your base for the six-night stay, you'll be treated to a welcome dinner and drinks. Steeped in Roman mythology, the region is also called "Ulysses' Coast." Named for the hero of "The Odyssey," this area was where Ulysses moored his ship.
Hop on the bus and take a guided tour of Sperlonga, a classic Mediterranean city with white buildings, narrow streets, and steps leading to the sea. You'll visit the National Archaeological Museum, which houses marble statues from the adjacent villa of the emperor Tiberius. Finally, stop at a mozzarella factory for a tasting.
Your afternoon will be spent touring Gaeta, about 15 minutes from the hotel. The ancient town is now a harbor for fishing; view the church of Santissima Annunziata and other cathedrals and sanctuaries. You'll also see the 14th-century Montagna Spaccata, a grotto that, according to legend, opened when Jesus died. You'll have dinner back at the hotel.
The next day will be devoted to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. The two-hour bus drive on a twisting road along the Sorrentine Peninsula passes rugged coastlines. You'll make several stops along the way: first in Sorrento, which sits on a hillside overlooking the Bay of Naples and is known for its shopping; then in Positano, where you'll see the buildings and shops clinging to the rock face in tiers. You can shop a little more for leather goods, shoes, and other items. Finally, you'll arrive in Amalfi, which is a resort-friendly town and perfect for pictures.
The next day is free to enjoy Formia on your own, or you can take an optional tour of Capri, an island off the Sorrentine Peninsula, for $220 per person. Formia has its own charms: four ancient districts with temple ruins and plenty of beaches.
Next is a tour to the province of Naples and the city of Pompeii, about an hour and a half from the hotel. Pompeii is an ancient town that fell victim to Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., was covered in ash, and then was rediscovered in the 1700s. The preserved ruins (including wall art and houses) provide insight into ancient Roman life.
Your next day is also free. One option: See the Montecassino Abbey on a guided tour for $49 per person. You'll be treated to a farewell dinner at the hotel, and then the next day, take your return flight back to the U.S.
These trips are during the off-season in Italy, but the weather will still be pleasant. Expect temperatures between 45 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, with some drizzle and fog in the mornings.
For more tips on what to do, visit the country's and see the U.S. State Department's .