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Packing light has become one of the obsessions of modern travelers. There are many advantages to not checking in a bag when flying and many people prefer to pack only the bare basics, only to be able to take their bag with them in the cabin. This is how the need for smart travel packing lists was born.

I’m one of these travelers. When I buy luggage, I always choose a bag to suit the maximum admissible size of all low cost airlines in Europe. The problem arises when I try to fit all my stuff inside, particularly during winter time, when clothes need to be thicker and heavier. This is a guide on what to wear in Italy, a travel packing list that works for any season, with only minor tweaks.

What To Pack for Italy?

If you’re on a longer journey across Europe and you fly in straight from the U.S., you may not be able to travel with a carry on only. This means that you’ll be able to pack more clothing and stuff than those who travel within Europe using low cost airlines such as Ryanair, Wizz Air and Easy Jet.

The season and the type of vacation will also influence your travel packing list for Italy. A beach vacation in Sicily will require different essentials than a ski vacation in the Dolomites or a Northern Italy urban exploration itinerary. Regardless of all these, there will always be a basic packing list to consider. I’m not talking here about your passport, the travel insurance and the visa (if required). This Italy packing list is about clothing and travel accessories that make your trip more pleasurable. What to wear in Italy depends on the season, on your personal style, but also on the type of trip you’re taking. You can’t wear the same outfits on hiking trips as on urban vacations and city breaks.

1. Shoes – Comfortable & Cute Shoes To Pack for Your Italy Vacation

Shoes are arguably the most important when it comes to traveling to Europe. Not only are your flip-flops out of fashion on the old continent, but they are also impractical. Wearing flip-flops or ballet flats in Rome, for instance, is a very bad idea, as you’ll need to walk for hours on cobblestone streets, and that’s never comfortable.

Ideally, you should pack the following: one pair of walking shoes (depending on the season, they can be hiking boots, sneakers, or walking sandals), one pair of cute and comfy flats to dress up, one pair of ankle boots (if you’ll be in Italy during spring or fall) and one pair of flip-flops. If you prefer to stay in five-star luxury hotels, you can give up the flip-flops, as you’ll find hotel slippers in your room, so you’ll be able to use those to walk around.

Some people hate the idea of walking barefoot in the hotel shower or bath tub. If you’re one of them,. pack your flip-flops by all means.

Regardless of your destination in Italy, a good pair of walking shoes is an absolute must. Sketchers, Merrell and Columbia have some interesting choices of shoes to wear during your urban explorations and on your mountain adventures alike.

Choose your favorite model of travel shoes to wear in Italy:

Shoes to wear in Italy during spring and summer:

Shoes and boots to pack for Italy in the winter:

 

2. Pants – For the Flight, for Walking & for Going Out

If you have to put up with a long flight, make sure you wear your most comfortable travel pants. A pair of leggings or a comfy pair of trainers would probably be best.

Also, pack some lightweight hiking pants – I’m a big fan of The Northern Face – they have some unbelievably lightweight fabrics that can make you feel comfortable in a wide array of temperature and humidity conditions.

Get one pair of such pants for late spring and summer trips. If you travel to Italy in winter, pack thermal underwear to wear beneath these hiking pants. Dressing in layers is the best method to pack light without having to suffer from cold or excessive heat.

If you only intend to visit big cities in Italy such as Rome, Milan, or Florence, and the weather won’t be cold, you may give up the hiking pants in favor of a pair of sheer yoga pants or other comfortable city pants you may like. Wrinkle-free fabrics are a great idea if you want to look good even when dressing out of a backpack.

Here are a few ideas of pants to pack for Italy:

3. Shirts – T-Shorts, Dress-Shirts, Casual Shirts

If you don’t know what to wear in Rome, you can rest assured that you’re going to be fine with jeans or other types of pants and some cute shirts. That’s my favorite outfit for most urban trips within Europe. I find jeans to be comfortable, as you can sit on anything you want without the fear that you’ll ruin them.

When I travel light, I usually pack three T-shirts and two casual shirts made from a sheer fabric. This should be enough for most of my 3-10 day trips. I can pair these shirts with a pair of jeans, hiking pants, shorts, or even skirts, if I want. This should provide me with enough flexibility to properly dress for any occasion.

4. Dresses – Maxi Dress for Instagram, Casual Dress, Cocktail Dress

Your Instagram account will thank you for packing a flowy dress for your Italy travel photos. If you only intend to wear it during your photo sessions, the season and the outdoor temperature won’t matter much. Just pack the lightest dress and you’ll be fine. Here are a few ideas of dresses to pack for Italy.

In most of my summer trips to Italy, I only packed one casual dress I could wear with sport shoes, sandals or flats. During my Rome vacation, in June, I was lucky to wear my casual dress made from cotton on my day trip from Rome to Ostia. After I visited the archeological site of Ostia Antica, I went to Ostia, to the beach. As I had no beach towel with me, I was happy to use my dress a a towel.

5. Luggage, Bags & Purses

I like soft shell carry-on luggage, because it has the front pockets where I can keep my phone and my passport while passing through check-in and customs. In addition, I use these front pockets to put my Kindle, my reading glasses and any magazines I might want to read on the plane. Once on board, I can remove all these very quickly from the pocket to have them handy during the flight.

Here are a few ideas of carry-on luggage you might like:

While an anti theft backpack can be a great idea, I have to admit I’ve never used one. I don’t feel comfortable wearing a backpack during urban trips, particularly in cities like Rome or Milan, where you can easily get robbed without having any idea about it.

The bags I’d wear in Italy are rather cross-body bags. I’d never remove the bag from around my body and I’d keep one hand on it at all times. This is what I’ve done during my Caravaggio paintings tour in Rome and in my self guided tour of Milan.

I’d say that a cross body bag with hidden RFID pocket should be the best bag to wear in Italy. Here’s an example you might like:

 

6. Gear & Accessories

I wouldn’t travel to Italy without my favorite mirrorless camera. In addition, I’d make sure I also pack my wide angle prime lens, as that works best for taking photos of large buildings, squares and monuments. If you go to Rome, you’ll be happy to have such a lens on your camera.

Although you won’t have too much time to read books, you should consider taking your e-book reader to Italy. You’ll use it while waiting in the airport and during the flight.

The standard voltage in Italy is 230 V. You’ll be able to use your appliances, provided that they are built to work at 220V – 240V. Power outlets accommodate plugs with two pins (three pins, if there’s also grounding). This is the standard in Europe. If your country’s standard is different, you’ll need adapters. If you travel to a lot of countries, you may want to buy a universal adapter like this one, here.

You’ll be able to pay with your credit cards almost anywhere. However, you should probably have some cash for emergency situations. I don’t know if all taxi drivers take cards. If you want to buy fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s markets, you might also need cash. As a general rule, avoid changing money in the airport, as exchange rates are usually bad.

Travel packing list for Italy

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Violeta Matei

Violeta writes for people who want to design, research and plan their own travel experiences. After two decades of working in advertising and marketing, she decided to pursue her two passions, to travel the world and to write about it. Since 2012, she authors and administrates a network of travel blogs.