It's not too late to start planning your summer vacation to Italy, but for real savings, look ahead to the fall and winter to reap the benefits of lower airfares and discounted package deals.
Gate1 Travel's (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) 12-day "Tuscany and Amalfi Coast" escorted package starts from $1,999. The trip features airfare from New York to Florence and from Naples back to New York, airline fuel surcharges, 10 nights' first-class accommodations (five at the Tuscany Inn in Montecatini and five at either the Michelangelo or Central Hotel in Sorrento), all transfers, 15 meals (10 buffet breakfasts ands five dinners with wine), sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned motor coach, local guides in all major cities and entrance fees. Itinerary highlights include a visit to the Accademia delle Belle Arti, home to Michelangelo's David in Florence, a tour of Lucca, an excursion to Pompeii, the scenic Amalfi Coast and a panoramic tour of Naples. The $1,999 price is for departures on November 16 and 23, 2006; and February 8 and March 1, 2007.
Tourcrafters (tel. 800/621-2259; www.tourcrafters.com) has a "Rome Citybreak" package priced from $755 per person for travel on October 28 or November 4, 2006 (other dates are available in September and October for additional cost). The deal includes round-trip airfare to Rome from New York on Eurofly, five nights' accommodations at the three-star Brasile Hotel, breakfast daily and hotel taxes and service charges.
Their "Rome and Countryside Umbria" package is priced from $786 for departures on October 28 and November 4 & 11, 2006. It includes round-trip airfare to Rome from New York on Eurofly, three nights' accommodationS at the three-star Brasile Hotel in Rome and three-nights at the four-star Villa Valentini Hotel in Umbria, A three-day car rental, breakfast daily and hotel taxes and service charges.
The "Italian Riviera in Primavera" trip is meant to be obviously taken in the spring but is available for travel from September 7 to October 31, 2006. It's priced from $799 per person and includes round-trip airfare from New York to Milan, four nights' accommodations at either the four-star Europe Hotel in Rapallo or the four-star Continental Hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure, a five-day car rental, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges.
European Destinations (tel. 877/267-2247; www.europeandestinations.com) has some low priced deals for fall travel to Italy. Their eight-day/six-night "Venice, Verona and Milan with Eurostar Italia" trip includes round-trip airfare, two nights' hotel accommodations in Venice, one-night in a Verona and two in Milan, second-class Eurostar Italia train tickets between Venice and Verona, and Verona and Milan, breakfast daily and hotel taxes. From New York, this package is priced from $678, $701 from Miami, $815 from Houston or Chicago and $872 from Los Angeles.
Travel between September and December 2006, and their "Rome and Florence with Eurostar Italia" package starts as low as $560 from New York including round-trip airfare to Rome, Hotel for two nights in Rome and two-nights in Florence, train between Rome and Florence, breakfast daily and hotel taxes. From Miami the trip is priced from $621, $780 from Houston and $905 from Los Angeles.
Italiatours (tel. 201/216-0024; www.italiatours.com) offers packages and escorted tours at reasonable prices, even during the summer season. Their "Sicily Deluxe" package is priced at $2590 per person and includes round-trip airfare from New York to Palermo with Eurofly in business class, seven nights' accommodations (two nights at the five-star Villa Igiea Hotel in Palermo, two nights at the four-star Dioscuri Bay Palace Hotel in Agrigento, one night at the four-star Venus Sea Garden Hotel in Siracusa, and two nights at the four-star Parco degli Aragonesi Hotel in Catania), seven-day car rental, buffet breakfast daily (except in Palermo), hotel service charges and taxes daily. Valid for Saturday departures from June 19 to August 31, 2006.
Their "Lake Como" special is priced at $949 per person for departures on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the month of October, 2006. The package includes round-trip airfare from New York flying Eurofly or from Philadelphia on Delta or Air France, four nights' accommodations at the four-star Hotel Barchetta Excelsior in Como, a four-day car rental, Italian buffet breakfast daily and hotel service charges and taxes.
The "Florence Summer Special" is priced at $999 for travel on August 7, 14 and 21, 2006 (other summer dates in June, July and early September are available from $,1029 to $1,196). The trip features round-trip airfare from New York to Bologna with Eurofly, four nights' accommodations in Florence at the four-star Hotel Diana Park, round-trip train tickets from Bologna to Florence and breakfast daily.
Get away from it all with Foreign Independent Tours' (tel. 800/248-3487; www.fittours.com) eight-day "Rolling Green Hills of Siena" package. It includes round-trip airfare from New York to Rome on Eurofly, six nights' accommodations in Cetona (Sienna) at the Arco Naturale Country House, a wine tour at the Podere Case al Vento, breakfast daily, two days of cooking classes and 10% discount at the hotel restaurant and a nearby spa. The trip is priced from $999 for Friday, Saturday or Sunday departures from October 28 to November 12, 2006. Rates peak at $1,629 during the month of August.
The nine-day "Discovery of Northern ItalyÂ Bologna, Tuscany, PisaÂ and Cinque Terre" trip is priced from $1,499 (for departures November 7 to 12, 2006) and includes round-trip airfare from New York to Bologna, three-nights at the four-star Bologna Arts Hotel Orologio, Commercianti, Novecento orÂ Coronad'Oro, four-nights at Tenuta La Bandita, Sassetta (Livorno), buffet breakfast daily, four-days car rental, a dinner and jazz show at Cantine Bentivolgio, round-trip airport transfers in Bologna, bus tour of Bologna, free entrance to downtown historical museums, free bicycle rental, hotel taxes and service charges. This trip goes up to $2298 during the months of July and August, 2006.
If you are planning an Italy trip this fall, 1800 Fly Europe (tel. 800/359-3876; www.1800flyeurope.com) can fly you to Milan or Venice for less. Following is a sample of round-trip fares (including fuel surcharges, but before taxes) to Milan or Venice valid for travel from September 6 to October 31, 2006:
- New York: $512
- Philadelphia/Boston: $537
- Washington, D.C.: $571
- Chicago/Miami: $643
- Houston: $666
- San Francisco: $724/$725
- Seattle: $748/$749