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We've often featured the independent, customizable trips from European Destinations (tel. 877/267-2247; www.europeandestinations.com), and this week's smart deal again shows us why. Six nights in Madrid and Rome from $818 after taxes and fees, if you depart from New York-JFK -- is a great price for mid-winter travel.

The suggested itinerary includes roundtrip international airfare along with flights between Madrid and Rome, three nights apiece in each destination, daily breakfast if it's included in the hotel, and hotel taxes. The pricing is pretty fluid though and changes depending on when you book and your departure city. You'll also get different prices depending on where you stay; the company offers hundreds of options between the two cities. One very straightforward and honest feature of European Destinations's booking is the fact that travelers can easily view a two-week price history for each itinerary offered. So, for this Madrid-Rome package, you can see that a six-night trip departing from Austin, Texas, for example, fetched a price of $945 with taxes, and another one, departing from Boston for six nights, came in at $843 with taxes.

It's possible to extend this trip, of course, and with two big culturally rich cities to explore, it's understandable. Madrid's museums offer the opportunity to look at Picasso, Dali, MirĂ³ and more; the restaurants will fill you up into the late hours of the night. Rome? Those who go often can't stop talking about slurping down a different gelato every day amidst ancient architecture and preserved monuments. And then there are charming cafes, great food, people watching and the shopping.