Operators Offer Freedom of Fly-Drives in Italy

Reed Travel Feature

NEW YORK -- Travelers looking to book a fly-drive program to Italy this year have a number of options, including the following:

* Distinctive Journeys International. The company, which specializes in scheduled and FIT tours, also offers self-drive options in conjunction with Avis Rent a Car. Rates include unlimited mileage, collision damage waiver, theft protection and applicable taxes. A minimum rental period of three days is required. Customized self-drive itineraries also are available. Air travel is via British Airways. For additional information, call (800) 922-2060.

* Donatello Tours Inc. offers fly-drive options that include air fare via Alitalia and car rentals with Hertz. Prices range from $54 for three to six days in a Ford Fiesta to $174 in a Ford Transit or Fiat Uglisse. Prices include unlimited mileage, VAT, collision damage waiver and theft protection insurance, free airport pickup and drop-off and 24-hour emergency road assistance. For additional information, call Donatello Tours at (800) 775-7553.

* EC Tours Inc. Agents can mix Italy hotel packages with car rentals and bulk-air options to create a customized itinerary. Two- and three-night stays in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan are available at properties that range from three to five stars. Such secondary cities as Bari, Bologna, Genoa, Perugia, Pisa, Ravenna, Siena and Sicily are available. Car add-ons range from $315 a week for a Fiat Panda to $940 a week for a Chrysler Voyager with air conditioning. City tours and excursions in Rome, Florence and Venice are available. Cars driven by English-speaking chauffeurs also can be booked. For additional information, call EC Tours at (800) 388-0877; fax (818) 755-0999.

* Italiatour. The company's Italy on Wheels program features air aboard Alitalia and car rentals in conjunction with Avis. Prices range from $42 per day for three days to 13 days in a three-door Opel Corsa to $151 for a BMW 525. Rates include unlimited mileage, VAT, 24-hour emergency road assistance, CDW, theft and personal accident insurance and free airport pick-up and drop-off. For additional information, call (800) 237-0517 or use the firm's fax-on-demand line at (800) 252-ITALY. The Web site address is http://www.italiatour.com.

* TourCrafters. The Italy by Car rental prices range from $341 per day for five to seven days in a Renault Twingo, for example, to $603 in an Opel Astra Station Wagon.

Independent hotel stays also are available. For additional information, call TourCrafters at (800) 621-2259 or (847) 816-6510; fax (847) 816-6717. The firm's e-mail address is [email protected]

* TourItalia offers a Discover the Treasures of Italy by Car program that includes unlimited mileage, VAT, insurance, free airport drop-off and pick-up and last-minute bookings. Rental rates range from $300 for five days to seven days for a Ford Fiesta to $1,199 for a BMW 520. For additional information, call TourItalia at (800) 848-6276, (312) 664-5757; fax (312) 664-0088.

* US Airways Vacations. In addition to inclusive packages, the company offers fly-drive options with air via US Airways to Rome from several U.S. gateways. For information, the number is (800) 455-0123.

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