Alitalia (800-223-5730, www.alitalia.com) flies nonstop to Rome from JFK and Newark for about $790. From Rome, Alitalia has several daily flights to Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, and Sicily; Europcar (877-940-6900, www.europcar.com) offers rentals in all four regions. Late spring and early fall, when the weather is still warm but the vacationing Italians have thinned, are ideal times to visit. The online Italy Traveller Hotel and Restaurant Guide (www.italytraveller.com) offers good regional information on lodging and dining. If you're overnighting in Rome before a flight, try the elegant Hotel Barocco (doubles from $264; 011-39-0648-72-001, www.hotelbarocco.it), tucked off Piazza Barberini. Maccheroni is a bustling ristorante serving a mean gnocchi with pear and gorgonzola; next-door is Vinoteca Novecento, a snug new wine bar.
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