Let’s jump right into it- packing for a trip to Italy can be a daunting task! You may be wondering if there are cultural norms you need to follow, if the weather will be similar to what you have at home, or if you’ll really have the courage to wear those heels on cobblestone!
I have taken long trips to Italy numerous times and I’m only now getting really good at packing. I’ve noticed that I tend to get anxious about the trip and the only way I feel like I’m “preparing” is to buy a bunch of stuff that seems necessary but isn’t. So let me save you a few bucks and a lot of time with these words of advice..
Beating the chill in the air on a sunny day in mid-May in Tuscany.
Consider the Actual Weather
A spring trip to Tuscany makes you imagine the warm, sunny days you’ve been craving for the past several months. But Spring in Italy can still be chilly! I’ve made this mistake before and spent weeks wearing the same ONE “warmer” outfit I had packed. Be aware that there may be warm days but there will certainly be chillier days, too. In general, early April to mid-May can still be quite chilly, but as you get into June, you’re more likely to have warm or even hot days.
Here is a site where you can see the average rainfall and weather for your destination which will give you a better idea of what to expect.
Keep Cultural Norms in Mind
Some churches don’t allow women to enter if your shoulders or thighs are showing. For this reason, I recommend bringing a scarf/shawl that you can tie around your waist or throw over your shoulders. It also doubles as a light blanket! For guys, there’s no rule you have to follow really, but be aware that most Italian men put effort into looking sharp on the daily (stylish, color coordinated, & hip). As a tourist doing a lot of walking, comfort takes precedence over style!
Dressing Up is Casual
Unless you’re going to some kind of prestigious event, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to have a really dressy, elegant outfit. A sundress with flat sandals is totally fine! I would discourage you from bringing any type of heels as you’d maybe wear them once and when you do, you’re putting yourself at risk for a twisted ankle! (Italian women should teach classes on how they wear spiked heels on cobblestone without so much as a stubbed toe!)
Men, it’d be nice for you to bring a button up shirt and nice pants/jeans for dinners, but you are free to dress how you normally would at home!
How Much to Pack
For your sake, do not be like my older brother and bring TWO suitcases to roll around in each hand, plus a backpack! One suitcase and a small backpack is all you really need. A jumbo suitcase if you’re staying for months (and mostly in one place), or a medium / carry on suitcase for up to 2 weeks. Imagine yourself carrying it all up several flights of stairs and I guarantee you’ll throw out a few things.
(Of course on our trips we can help carry your things if you’re elderly or injured!)
How to Pack
There are lots of packing methods, such as bundling, rolling, or the capsule wardrobe. I think the most important thing is to start with a list of the things you’ll need rather than pulling everything you like out of your closet! My current goal is to acquire a wardrobe of basics with a few key patterned/colorful pieces to make packing and getting dressed easier (similar to the capsule method).
Here’s a great packing list for women and here’s another for men, but let’s face it- packing for men is a bit more straightforward. Just please don’t forget one cozy jacket like a fleece..my secret weapon is a super packable, ultra light down jacket you can wear under your lighter jacket when needed. Similarly, leggings to wear under skirts on chilly days will save you! Now that you know what to pack, check out this blog post on how to organize your suitcase.
Space for Gifts
Leave space for buying gifts (everything I buy in Italy is edible!). One of my favorite travel hacks is to pack an extra bag that folds down small and light. When you start packing up to head home, you can whip out this extra bag to house the overflow if needed, or if you get to the airport and your suitcase is overweight, you can put things in this extra bag instead of throwing them out altogether.
I hope the above tips help you feel more prepared for bringing everything you’ll need for an unforgettable trip to “the boot”!
Have more tips to share? Leave them in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
Creative Edge Travel offers small group and custom trips to the lesser-known areas of Italy. Visit our Upcoming Trips page to see where we’re headed next!