Admittedly, it is a bit of a misnomer to write a story about deals to Italy's coastline and islands -- the country is one giant peninsula after all, surrounded by the Adriatic in the northeast and Ligurian, Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas to the west and south. But it's a travel experience that perhaps many travelers from the United States overlook as a possibility, beyond maybe the much-touted and increasingly promoted Amalfi Coast. If you're looking for an escape to an Italy that is probably less likely to be cluttered with tourists -- you're more likely to hear English than Italian when visiting Florence's main attractions, for example -- aim for an island or coastline.
For some fly-drive, fare sales and other promotions, 1-800-Fly-Europe (tel. 800/359-3876; www.1800flyeurope.com) has some winter fly-drive packages that include round-trip airfare, car rentals for three days, call center support and airline fuel surcharges. Although Rome is a bit of a haul from the Amalfi Coast, for example -- about 145 miles -- you could pick a fly-drive package like this and customize the rest of your vacation accordingly. From New York the packages start from $499 to Rome, but you can choose among various departures at various prices. It's valid for departures through March 31 and you must book by March 15. The packages are available for spring travel, for April 1 through May 25 with the same booking deadline, but the price jumps considerably. Of course, the weather is better, which somewhat accounts for the price change, but this package includes three nights at a three-star hotel instead of a three-day car rental. From New York, the package is priced from $769.
Donna Franca Tours (tel. 800/225-6290; www.donnafranca.com) specializes trips in to Italy, including one to the Aeolian Islands that's a five-night excursion priced from $1,159 for land only. This string of seven small volcanic islands is located off the coast of Sicily. It's a first-class operation, with hotels with private pools, sea view rooms and round-trip private transfers from airport to hotels. The price is valid for travel May 1 through October 31.
Donna Franca has another land-only trip to the Italian Riviera's protected Portofino Coast priced from $779 valid for travel April 1 through October 31. It is a five-night stay at the four-star Regina Elena, in Santa Margherita Ligure, close to the town of Portofino, Camogli, Rapallo (resort towns) and the city of Genoa. The price includes buffet breakfast daily, welcome drink, complimentary fruit basket, car rental, hotel taxes and services, and transfers.
Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has an Amalfi Coast getaway priced from $1,209, valid for travel April 1 through May 17 and based on travel from Boston. You must purchase by March 22. You must act quickly though because some of the properties that are included in the special already are booked. The trip involves choosing either three nights in Sorrento or Positano with a car rental for three days. Round-trip airfare is included along with continental breakfast, hotel taxes and service charges and airline fuel surcharges.
If you are flying from Miami to Italy, you are in luck, as Orbitz (tel. 888/656-4546; www.orbitz.com) is offering a comprehensive sale on destinations in conjunction with Alitalia, as long as you book by March 12 and travel by April 30. There are no blackout dates and round-trip fares start at about $510 round-trip, plus taxes and fees, to destinations such as Genoa, Rome, Venice, Verona, Ancona, Bologna and Bolzano, among others.
Picasso Tours (tel. 800/995-7997; www.picassotours.com) is offering a highlights of Sicily tour priced from $1,269 per person based on double occupancy for departures March 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28; and dates thereafter, through October. The price includes seven nights accommodations, welcome cocktail, motor coach escort, local guides, entrance fees for sightseeing and porterage at hotels. Airfare is not included, so look for flights into Palermo, where the trip begins, for this eight-day tour.
Tour Crafters (tel. 800/621-2259; www.tourcrafters.com) is offering a trip called Ravello Special to southern Italy -- specifically, the Amalfi Coast for four nights for $879. The price includes airfare from New York to Naples, four-day car rental, four nights' accommodations in Hotel Villa Maria in the village of Ravello, a property with sea views, daily breakfast and hotel service charges and daily taxes. Other departures are available for additional cost. It's best to book this as soon as possible, as you must depart by March 31.
Travelocity (tel. 888/872-8356; www.travelocity.com) has a deal for round-trip travel on Alitalia from $419 round-trip, but for different dates and different departure cities than the one offered through Orbitz. You must book by March 15, a Saturday night stay is required, and there is a maximum one-month stay. You can fly from Boston or Chicago to Naples from $445, or to Palermo from $595, among others.
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