Rome air/car rental, 6 nights, from $889
The Italy Fly & Drive package allows you to travel at your own pace and determine your own itinerary. It covers round-trip airfare to Rome on Alitalia, Lufthansa or American; a six-night economy-class rental car with manual transmission; unlimited mileage; and a road map. Upgrade to an automatic transmission for $40 per person. You can stay in local hotels or B&Bs of your choosing.
Book by: Sept. 8, 2008.
When: Oct. 27-Dec. 11, 2008; Jan. 7-March 19, 2009.
Details: Does not include departure taxes and fees of $139 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $180. Note that drivers in Italy must have an international driving permit. You can obtain one online through AAA ; it'll cost about $15.
Gateways: New York City; add $50 for D.C., San Francisco; $70 for Dallas; $150 for Seattle; $260 for St. Louis; additional cities available.
Contact: EuropeASAP, 415/750-5449, europeasap.com.
Taormina lodging/tours, 7 nights, $1,125
The Discovering Taormina package includes seven nights' accommodations at the elegant three-star Hotel Isabella , with 32 rooms and a rooftop terrace, plus guided sightseeing excursions. You'll visit looming Mount Etna (the highest active volcano in Europe), Siracusa (a province of Sicily with 5th-century Greek ruins and 14th-century palaces), Agrigento, and Piazza Armerina (both known for archaeological ruins and mosaics). The package also includes breakfast daily, one dinner, and transfers to and from the Catania airport.
Book by: Based on availability.
When: Daily departures through Oct. 31, 2008.
Details: All taxes included. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy; no single bookings.
Getting there: A recent search on Kayak found a round-trip flight in late September between New York City and Catania starting at about $1,094 (Alitalia).
Contact: TourCrafters, 800/621-2259, tourcrafters.com.
Rome alternative: If you prefer do-it-yourself sightseeing, consider TourCrafters' Early Bird Special, which covers the basics: four nights in Rome and round-trip airfare, starting at $575.
Rome, Florence a Venice air/hotel, 9 nights, from $1,129
See three of Italy's most popular cities with the Italian Adventure whirlwind package. After your flight on Lufthansa, United, Delta, or British Airways, you'll spend three nights in Rome at Hotel Taormina, then three in Florence at Hotel Palazzuolo, and three in Venice at Hotel Pantalon. Second-class rail tickets for travel between cities, breakfast daily, and hotel taxes and fuel surcharges are also included.
Book by: Aug. 27, 2008, for the lowest rate.
When: Nov. 1-Dec. 11, 2008; Jan. 7-Feb. 2, 2009. Add $100 for Dec. 12-19, 2008; $120 for March 3-22, 2009; $270 for Feb. 3-18; $390 for Sept. 1-Oct. 31, 2008; $520 for Dec. 20-Jan. 6, 2009.
Details: Does not include departure taxes and fees of $160 per person. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy; single supplement is $200. A $35 surcharge applies to travel Thursday through Sunday. Additional nights start at $63 per person per night in Rome, $44 per person per night in Florence, and $61 per person per night in Venice. There's no fee for changing your departure date.
Gateways: New York City; add $30 for Boston, Philadelphia; $40 for D.C.; $60 for Atlanta, Chicago; $220 for Buffalo, Manchester; $240 for Miami, Pittsburgh; $270 for Asheville, L.A., Phoenix, Savannah, Seattle; additional cities available.
Contact: Go-today, 800/227-3235, go-today.com.
U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; no visa is required. For more ideas on what to do, see Italy's official tourism site.
If you choose to travel in the fall, you'll benefit from thinning crowds and mild weather that's pleasant for sightseeing; average temperatures range from the upper 50s to the mid-70s.
Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.