Subject: Airfare to Italy
Dear Marcy, Of course you are right to remind us of the financial considerations, which are present for everyone. And Sally is correct that it can be done for the $4000 you mentioned, but you would need a good travel agent. Airfare of $1400 for two (say), and then hotels of $100 to $150 a night will eat up most of your budget. And a $100 per night hotel in Italy is sadly not always a comfortable place. Then a reasonable budget (in Italy) of $125 per day for food and admissions would put you close to the limit.

If you want to explore an independent tour, work with a good travel agent who KNOWS Italy. This is crucial since they will know the better hotels which are well-located and may be offering deals, which are very common even at the 4 and 5 star hotels. My agent, who lives part of the year in Umbria, has often found special deals at luxurious hotels for under $150/night.

On the other hand, someone else mentioned that we weren't really forbidding (!) you from taking an organized tour, just the one that you described. I'm sure there is another one out there with a better itinerary and better logistics, which would still be close to the budget. Hopefully helpfully, Joel