One of the things you need to consider when traveling to Italy is the clothes you’ll wear. I thought of writing this article because Rick is at his happiest when he’s in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops, and I’m happier in heavy pants, a shirt and sweater; so, it’s important to know what to bring when visiting Italy.
Italy is a big country with lots to see and do in varying environments, after all. Plus, it’s known for its clothing and style, with Milan officially named the world’s fashion capital. So it’s understandable that some people want to look stylish for their Italian excursion, while others simply want to travel and be comfortable while doing it.
We’ve been around the country a lot, and we’re not stingy with our travel tips (as evidenced by the website you’re on right now, which is chock-full of information about Italy and its many places to visit.)
Planning and preparing for your trip is important (even though Rick let’s me do all the planning) when you travel to Italy and everywhere else.
So get your backpacks ready, and let’s jump straight into it.
Considerations when packing for your trip to Italy
It’s important to plan accordingly when deciding what to wear for your trip to Italy. Here are some of the most important factors you need to consider.
The weather and season
When will you visit Italy, and what’s the weather like there? You need to consider the time of the year when planning your wardrobe. Italy during the summer (especially during July and August) can be uncomfortably hot, with temperatures reaching up to 42 °C (107.6 °F). Certain regions, like cities in southern Italy, can have higher temperatures.
The temperature during winter in Italy can go as low as -5°C (23°F) in northern Italy. Italy’s weather has also been fickle, especially during spring. You’ll want to wear suitable clothing for each season.
What to wear or pack during the different seasons in Italy?
Wear breathable, comfortable, and light-colored clothes during summer to stave off the heat. Try to avoid tight clothes and dark colors.
For winter and autumn, bring warm clothes like sweaters and thick jackets. The nights can be chilly during these months. We like to bring long socks for more comfortable travel and sleep.
Spring is known for unpredictable weather, so you’ll have to vary your wardrobe a bit, although you cannot go wrong with light jackets as they can help with the windy and cold weather. We also suggest that you bring clothes that you can layer in case the temperature drops.
Once you decide it’s time to visit Italy, the next thing you need to consider is where you’re going. Are you going to have a lot of walking to do on cobblestone streets like in some parts of Italy? Or is it more of a beach excursion? This is especially important when it comes to footwear, as wearing comfortable shoes like sneakers is better for old city streets, and sandals fit more on the sandy beaches of the Amalfi Coast.
Your planned activities
So you have a destination firmly in mind. Next to consider is what you’re going to do when you get there. Places in southern Italy like the Amalfi Coast or the beaches in Sardinia offer tourists the chance to take a dip in the waves, making them perfect for summer clothes like swimsuits and tank tops. You’ll probably not wear a suit there, so packing one would be a waste of precious luggage space.
Italy packing list tips for a comfortable journey
Do you want to travel to Italy in comfort? Remember these important tips, and you’ll get through your journey without any hitch.
This is sage advice, good for any occasion, any destination, and any circumstances. Bringing a lot of luggage can be a lot of hassle for a trip. You’re a lot less mobile when you have a lot of stuff; getting on planes or trains may result in additional charges, and you’re a lot less flexible when it comes to sudden changes in the itinerary, and lugging a lot of bags can be physically and mentally demanding. Your best option is to plan, consider everything you need, and prepare accordingly. You want to make sure that your Italy packing list is complete and that you bring enough to wear. You can also use things like packing cubes or watch travel hacks videos to save on space.
Linen is your best friend
Summer in Italy can get really hot, so bringing highly breathable clothing like linen shirts and dresses can go a long way in making your experience more comfortable. Aside from that, linen clothing is also moisture-resistant (which is particularly sought after in humid climates) and hypoallergenic, helping minimize sweat and discomfort as you walk along the beaches and streets of il bel paese. There’s also a cultural factor, as linen is a favored fabric by most Mediterranean countries for its comfort and versatility in style.
Consider packing at least two pairs of shoes: your walking shoes and your dress shoes
Some of the old and venerated cities in Italy, like Rome, Venice, Sorrento, and Milan, tend to favor pedestrians better than cars, so you’ll be expected to do a lot of walking. For that reason, you’ll need to put comfort over style, and I suggest taking the pair of shoes you usually wear when walking around, preferably ones that are somewhat waterproof for the winter and late spring rains.
Indeed, the photo above was taken one evening in Venice during “Aqua Alta.” Rick decided to take off his shoes and walk barefoot through the water – of course, this was after dinner and a couple glasses of wine 🙂
Of course, if you’re headed to a fancy restaurant for the evening, which usually requires patrons to dress up. This is where your dress shoes come in.
Leave high heels and stilettos at home / Leave flip-flops and other loose footwear in the hotel room
Italians are proud of their cultural heritage. Some places around the country, especially in central Italy, have kept their streets in conditions reminiscent of their appearances during the Renaissance — meaning they are mostly narrow cobblestone streets.
Pointed heels — uncomfortable to use on any other occasion — may get stuck between the paving stones and snap off, possibly causing inconvenience and, if unlucky, personal injury.
The same goes for us men. Don’t bring footwear like flip-flops (Rick is slowly making progress here) or loose sandals. Streets can be uneven, especially in older cities, and you might be more prone to slips and falls when the stones get slippery.
What else to pack for Italy if you want a comfortable journey
Here are a few more essential things to add to your backpack when exploring Italy. Most of these are available in drugstores and other places, but going out to get stuff will take precious time out of your travel.
- Sunscreen – We’ve seen a lot of tourists walking around with sunburn, and we don’t want you to get added to their number.
- Umbrella – Pack a lightweight, foldable umbrella in your backpack for those surprise rain showers
- Hats – It’s a great way to protect yourself from sunlight while being fashionable. A quick tip for men: bring comfortable caps in neutral colors.
- Sunglasses – All that bright sunlight reflecting off white facades will not do your eyesight any favors. Remember to bring a pair or two for your trip.
- Device chargers – You don’t want to be stuck in the middle of Piazza San Marco with a 1% charge on your phone and no alternative way to contact your travel buddies. Remember to bring all necessary accessories for your devices to avoid inconveniences.
- Medication – Remember to bring maintenance medication. I like to pack extras if anything gets delayed, plus a few more stuff for travel-related issues like dizziness.
Tips on packing for a fashionable tour
There is no better place to apply the saying “When in Rome…” than when you arrive here, especially if you’re actually planning to go to Rome. In any case, if you want to look as fashionable as possible when going to Italy, we have a few tips for preparing your wardrobe.
What do people wear in Italy?
If there’s one thing that we can tell you for sure, it’s that Italians like to dress up and look great. Style is important to both men and women, and you’ll see a lot of the natives wearing the latest in Italian fashion for their trips outside. People all around the country, especially in cities like Rome and Milan, like to show off in their high-quality dresses and suits in neutral colors. This is why most tourists, in their casual graphic shirts and shorts, tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t get me wrong; those are perfectly fine to wear, and if you’re comfortable with them, then by all means. But if you want to enjoy your trip while dressing as fashionably as you can, then you can do no wrong in emulating Italian fashion.
Italian concepts in fashion
Do you want to make a good impression with your fashionable Italian friends? Familiarize yourself with these terms and their concept so that you can apply them to your style and wardrobe choices.
Sprezzatura is a term that entered public consciousness during the Renaissance period, originating from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, published in 1528. The term ostensibly means “effortless mastery” or “studied nonchalance.” This concept involves pulling off activities in the best and most stylish way possible while making them appear effortless. It can be applied to conversations, tasks, behavior, and how people dress.
For a relevant example, some Italians prefer to dress in unconventional combinations. They like to mix and match styles that fit together and wear accessories that showcase subdued elegance over opulent flash to give their outfit an air of confidence and a touch of personal flair.
Fare Bella Figura
Another core concept of Italian fashion (or Italian culture) is Fare Bella Figura, or “the beautiful figure.” This concept emphasizes the importance of making a great impression by way of presenting a clean, polished image on any occasion. Of course, this involves dressing appropriately, comporting one’s self in an appropriate but elegant manner, and focusing on clean grooming and good personal hygiene.
This concept can be seen in practice with Italians’ preference for good, solidly tailored clothes of fine materials. The people in Italy like wearing clothes with timeless designs like classic suits for men and elegant dresses for women.
Guide for dressing like a fashionable local
If you don’t want to look like a tourist (which, again, is not a bad thing and is completely up to preference,) consider these time-tested pieces of advice for a more fashionable Italian excursion.
Pack clothes that fit you well
Fitted shirts, contoured pants, and streamlined blouses are the go-to clothes for casual Italian fashion. There’s very little room for frumpy, oversized shirts if you’re swinging for a fashionable look.
Classic colors are the king of fashion
Italians prefer wearing muted, neutral colors for a more chic look. You won’t see many people walking around with loud, printed shirts in various colors, and the ones that do, like tourists, usually tend to look out of place.
Tips for men
Arming yourself with a wardrobe filled with neutral color palettes is a great start here. Italian men don’t usually bend to current and flashy fashion trends; they stick with classic combinations for a more fancy yet understated look.
You can usually spot them out and about with their tailored shirts, blazers, light jackets, polo shirts, and fitted trousers. Chino pants are a good alternative to heavier bottom wear like jeans. However, your chinos should be fitted to the contours of your body. The pant legs should also fall between your ankles and the tops of your shoes without socks.
Men often wear leather watches to accompany their ensemble, but you can take it further with rings, bracelets, or hats. Just remember not to overaccessorize.
Tips for women
Finding the right balance between being stylish and not being too flashy is important. As with men, women in Italy tend to choose more muted colors to wear. They also have more options for clothing. Italians like to dress appropriately for the occasion, so be sure to bring at least one piece of formal wear when packing (you can’t go wrong with packing a black dress.) Use accessories like scarves, belts, jewelry, and handbags to enhance your look.
Other questions about your packing list for Italy
For the most part, many places in Italy do not enforce a dress code. However, places like churches, museums, and performance venues like opera houses and theaters do not let tourists wear shorts, open footwear, or clothes that reveal too much skin. Women can wear dresses to these places as long their shoulders and knees are covered. Men are sometimes denied entrance to these places when trying to enter while wearing flip-flops or sleeveless undershirts.
Yes! If you want to wear the latest fashion in Italy, there’s no better place to get new clothing than in Milan, Rome, and other major cities. Even if you’re not looking to buy clothes, you might want to get souvenirs and other trinkets.
Once you’re done packing, what else is there to do?
Last tip: always, always double-check your things before going on any trip. Forgetting something like sunscreen is easily rectified, but forgetting your wallet isn’t something you want to go through.
Leave a comment for any questions or if you want us to cover any topic. We’ll see you in the next article!