|Subject: Re: Getting to Palermo, Italy|
I took a few minutes to play with your itinerary--what can I say, the idea of going to Sicily and the challenge of finding economical travel arrangements were far more appealing than doing laundry!
http://www.itasoftware.com is a great air search engine that doesn't sell tix. It turned up fares from $845 for an open jaw configuration SEA-PMO and FCO-SEA flying each leg midweek in May. What I like about this interface is your ability to tweak the results based on the factors important to you--trip duration, time of day to depart, preferred airline, etc. More, if you have any flexibility in scheduling, it will show you the cheapest dates to make your trip.
The simple RT SEA-FCO yielded fares from $767, so there doesn't seem to be much reason to look at the Rome-Palermo leg separately ... unless maybe you are flying during summer peak, which explains the high rates you discovered? In that case, or if for some other reason you want to look at that leg standing alone, Air One is a discount carrier that makes the Rome-Palermo link. Using the arbitrary summer date July 13 for that one-way trip, ITA shows a fare of $137USD (vs. $240 Alitalia), and the Air One site itself shows a fare of $76.54E, which oanda.com says = $98.52USD. There is always europebyair.com at $99USD per leg.
Hope this gives you some ideas. Sounds like a great trip!
Diana Ball near Houston, TX