What to wear in Italy is one of the first things to consider once you plan the basics of your first trip to the country. No need to stress over your trip as packing is simple if you stick with the classics. Italians are stylish, and we recommend dressing smart, so you’re comfortable hanging out with locals.
Packing does come with some difficulties. Appearance is important in Itlay, but you’ll want to balance practicality as cities are best explored on foot. To make it more difficult, the climate across the country and seasons vary a lot.
The best solution is to keep it simple with clothes and prepare for a mixture of activities and social functions. Staple items in your wardrobe can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. When we’re in Italy, we stand at the espresso bar, don’t order cappuccinos after 12:00, and dress to kill.
Tips For Packing For Italy
- Appearance and style are significant to Italians. However, they don’t all look like the inside of a fashion magazine. Instead, staple items are what you’ll find most people wear in Italy.
- Pack light if you plan to travel around Italy on your own. Narrow staircases, cobblestone streets, and uneven sidewalks are very common!
- An amazing outfit is always nice to have in Italy. Ladies can pack that gorgeous cocktail dress and men a stylish suit. Nothing beats a proper night out in Italy!
- Adventure clothes such as hiking footwear and active clothes are great for the activities.
- A conservative outfit is needed if you plan to visit churches. That means both men and women cover their knees and shoulders to enter.
- Linen shirts are common and rarely feel out of place. Men can live in these shirts every day in the summer. Perfect for the Amalfi Coast or Sicily.
- Packing cubes help separate damp and dirty clothes from clean ones.
- Sun protection is always a good idea, whether that is sunblock, hats, or UPF clothing.
- Three pairs of shoes are the max you should pack. A nice shoe, casual/sandal, and athletic shoe for activities or hikes.
The Essential Documents To Pack
- Passport – This is an obvious one, but you won’t make it very far without a passport.
- Credit Cards – We always go with several travel credit cards that offer purchase protection, rewards, and no foreign transaction fees.
- Visa – Make sure you have a visa if you need one. USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all receive a free 90-day visa on arrival to the Schengen Area.
- Debit Cards – It’s good to carry euros in Italy. We never bother with money exchanges that provide awful exchange rates. Instead, we rely on the ATM when we arrive. Charles Schwab, Ally, and Capital One offer low or no foreign transaction fees.
- Driving License – If you plan to rent a car, you will need your driver’s license, plus it never hurts to have a second form of I.D.
- IDP – In addition to a driving license, you may be required to have an IDP. However, this is super subjective to the rental agency. I’ve rented a car numerous times with and without it.
Weather in Italy
Italy enjoys a full four seasons. On top of that, the climate varies a lot from the beaches of Sicily in the south to the Dolomites in the north. Therefore, the season and where you plan to visit will have the largest impact on what you pack for your trip to Italy.
It’s best to check the weather a week before your trip to get an idea of what the temperatures will be like during your trip. Also, make sure to check all of the regions you plan to visit.
- Spring: This is a lovely time of year to visit Italy, but the weather can be a bit fickle with frequent rain showers. Average temperatures vary between 60°F and 75°F (16°C and 24°C).
- Summer: Summer in Italy is hot and humid! Although the mountains in the North can be enjoyable. The average temperatures vary between 77°F and 86°F (25°C and 30°C)
- Fall: This is our favorite time to visit Italy and the easiest to pack for. Warm sunny days and cool evenings. Temperatures vary between 60°F and 75°F (16°C and 24°C).
- Winter: Central Italy has cool days and nights in the winter. In the North, there is some wonderful skiing in the Alpine regions. Rain is common during this season, and temperatures range between 50°F and 55°F (10°C and 13°C). We’ve spent a lot of time in Italy during the winter, and it’s a fantastic time to travel.
What Luggage To Bring For Italy?
I have two bag recommendations for a trip to Italy. You can either opt for a traditional hardshell suitcase that has four wheels or a travel backpack.
Suitcases with four wheels are best as the ability to roll sideways down the aisle of a train or a sidewalk makes life a lot easier. We prefer hardshell as it does a better job at protection and security. Our favorite hardshell suitcase is the Delsey Helium Aero 25″.
Travel backpacks are great for young backpackers or minimalists! If paying for taxis or car rentals makes you hesitant, you’ll either need to book accommodation near public transport or have a backpack. Our favorite is the Peak Design Travel Backpack but read about the best backpacks for Europe if you’d like to learn more.
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What to Wear in Italy: Women
For those Italian summers, it’s a tremendous idea to have a sundress. Choose a classic dress like an exposed shoulder top, slip, maxi, or your favorite summer dress. It will most likely be your most worn outfit in the summer, as Italian summers are far too hot for pants. You can also opt for a more bohemian beach style which I love! Right now, my favorite summer dresses come from Salty Crush.
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In the spring or summer, I love to pack pants that correspond with the warmer weather. That means either some lightweight capris or relaxed, loose pants. Capris tend to feel better in the cities, while a relaxed airy pant is perfect for the Italian coastline. prAna’s Fernie Beach Pant is one of my favorite pants!
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Rompers are probably one of my favorite travel outfits because they’re stylish, comfortable, practical, and keep me cool in the summer. You really can’t go wrong here, and I’d suggest throwing at least one or two rompers in your suitcase for Italy. Great rompers that I love come from prAna, Salty Crush, and Patagonia’s Fleetwith Romper.
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A few comfortable tank tops and shirts are always in my bag, and they’re perfect for Italian summers. I typically pack solid colors so that they can pair with everything. They’re super functional clothes worn under a blouse or alone with a skirt or capris. It’s always best to pick up some new ones before a trip. That way, they look fresh and aren’t pilling.
A pair of black flats is always great to have in a suitcase. They’re stylish comfortable, and they take up minimal space in your luggage. My tip, stay away from heels, many European towns have cobblestone streets, and you don’t want to break an ankle trying to look good. Just let the locals impress you with their skills of walking in heels. Black flats take up minimal room in your luggage and make some of my favorite travel shoes for women.
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It gets sunny in Italy, and unless you’re walking around museums, you will be outside most of the day. Make sure to protect your face with a nice sun hat. Try to keep it a practical size that travels well. If you pack a large hat, it will always be in your way, and you’ll likely ditch it by the end of your trip. I’ve picked up a few hats from Hat Attack and love the way they look! They’re also very fashionable and can make for a great statement piece.
Italians love their accessories, and that does not stop with the handbag. It’s a good idea to bring a medium-sized bag that can hold a few essentials and still have a little room for souvenirs.
There are many churches in Italy, a lot, so a shawl is a great item to have to cover your shoulders when entering a cathedral or church.
What To Wear in Italy: Men
Dress Shirt & Chinos
Italian men are often just as well dressed as women—pack at least one dress shirt for a trip to Italy. I like to stick with a classic color like blue or white that will never go out of style. Pair the dress shirt and chinos for a classic look. For a trip, men only need two pairs of pants, one pair of chinos, and one pair of jeans. Navy or beige is the most versatile color choice for pants.
Bluffworks specializes in men’s travel clothes and makes some awesome pants, shirts, and blazers. Their travel clothes are all comfortable, wrinkle-resistant, and stain-resistant. Amazing for travel!
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T-Shirt or V Neck
A classic tee will never go out of style. We suggest sticking with solid colors like black, white, or grey. There’s also the option of a v-neck for a more stylish look, but it all depends on personal preference. For those who sweat more, grey better as it is super easy to stain white. All that being said, I spend most of my days in a linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
If there ever were a destination that demands a suit, it would be Italy. Whether standing at a cafe bar, tasting Sangiovese, sitting down for a fantastic meal, or catching a show at the Teatro Alla Scala, there is no denying it’s best done in a suit. Just like out of an old Italian film having a suit for those special evenings or days in Italy is a must.
It’s certainly not the easiest thing to travel with, and not every trip warrants packing one. However, it does look pretty great!
Loafers are a good shoe to have in the summer for a more relaxed look by the seaside. It’s perfect for a night out at a local trattoria while you listen to live music. The important thing with footwear is that it looks clean and simple.
Everyone Should Pack This!
There are many outdoor activities in Italy (Dolomites, volcanoes, and hilltop towns) that require some activewear to enjoy. So, when you’re wondering what to wear in Italy, consider packing at least one active outfit. Not to mention all of the carbs you’re going to need to burn off!
Jeans go with anything, and despite the notion, they are “American” casual, the right pair is attractive. Jeans are definitely not just Americans wearing them any longer. You’ll find plenty of Italians in well-cut trendy jeans. However, if it’s going to be a real heatwave during your trip, I’d leave them at home.
Stick with a classic look in jeans. That means fitted jeans that are a dark color. No fades, flares, light blues, or rips! That being said, the youth in Italy are well aware of and wear current trends. That would be the Levi’s 511 for men and 721 for women.
We’re going to start with a comfortable pair of shoes as it’s the one thing everyone needs. Italian cities are meant for walking, so be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet. However, I wouldn’t recommend packing those clunky hiking shoes many tourists like to bring; hiking footwear stands out like a sore thumb in Itlay.
Allbirds make light and airy sneakers that aren’t overly flash, match a wide range of outfits, comfortable for all-day wear, and remain cool in hot weather. We’ve tried various travel shoes over the years and love Allbirds Tree Runner in warm weather.
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Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun since you’ll likely spend a lot of time outside. Italians are big into their name-brand sunglasses. A stylish pair of sunglasses is a great addition to an outfit.
Everyone owns at least one pair of sunglasses. However, it’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes. We love quality polarized sunglasses like SMITH Optics Lowdown 2.
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Italy Packing List for Summer
Dressing well in the summertime isn’t rocket science. We both choose to go for timeless clothing items when traveling around Italy and Europe. I opt for an easy dress with a classic cut in neutral colors.
Combine that with a small handbag, black flats, and a nice pair of sunglasses you’ve got the perfect summer outfit. Men have it easy as Cameron loves to wear either chinos or jeans with a classic white T-shirt or dress shirt and an accessory like a nice watch.
I love the look of linen when traveling around the Mediterranean, and it’s popular with Italians. Linen is as practical as it is stylish. It’s great as it tends to dry faster, feel lighter, and cope with sweat better than its cotton counterparts. The fabric has a long history with Italy and was even worn by the ancient Romans.
Pair a linen shirt with sandals, shorts, jeans, shoes, or even go barefoot. It will always work. A versatile piece of clothing that looks good for both sexes and works at the beach or a restaurant. It’s tough to find decent linen shirts online, but I really love the quality of J. Crew’s linen shirts.
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If you’re heading to the Amalfi Coast, a swimsuit is a must! For women, one of the best brands for swimsuits I’ve found is Andie Swim. They make amazing swimsuits that fit as nicely as they look. Many of their pieces are stylish yet supportive.
Cameron has the new Quicksilver’s Amphibian shorts. The material looks like tough fabric, but they’re super lightweight and durable. Best of all, they look great on the beach or in town.
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Sandals are meant only for the beach in Italy, especially for men. However, with all of the gorgeous beaches in Italy, sandals are acceptable beach attire, and they’re far more comfortable on the sand.
Men should keep the sandals for the beach generally. However, a stylish pair of sandals are great for women when they visit a seaside town. We both travel with Rainbow leather sandals, and they’ve lasted for years. It’s a basic leather sandal that doesn’t look overly cheap and feels stylish enough. They’re super comfortable too!
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If you plan to head to the Italian Alps, it’s never a bad idea to have something with a little warmth. A light windbreaker jacket will help, especially in the summer when it can still be chilly. It may even be a good idea to pack a down jacket and a lightweight hiking jacket. If you plan to go hiking, we have a post on what to wear.
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We always recommend packing a travel towel when you’re on the road. Italy is no exception. If you head to the beach or want to take a hike, it never hurts to have a towel packed away in your day bag. Consider a towel an essential for your Italy packing list. A towel is one of those things you’ll likely regret not packing!
You’ll likely want a beach bag for your beach days. This is to throw in anything like towels, a book, a speaker, sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen. Alternatively, we often use our daypacks for trips to the beach. However, a classic tote that everyone has in their closet also helps for shopping trips at the local market. They also travel well as they can fold flat and lie in your luggage.
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Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF during the summer. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need them underneath the sun. Most of the islands have limited imports and charge high prices.
We highly recommend getting an eco-friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals. They’re mineral-based and usually only cost a few dollars more to help protect our oceans.
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Winter Italy Packing List Items
Sticking to classics is always the best way to tackle the winter climates. We like to bring two coats for the winter because we’re active travelers. That means we both bring our favorite down jacket for hiking or winter activities.
For walking around cities we both like a classic black peacoat, maybe it’s the New Yorker left in us. Other staples like a nice scarf and the right pair of boots can make your outfit and keep you warm.
A sweater can make a great travel outfit. They’re comfortable, stylish, and warm. I have several sweaters, but my favorites are from organic materials like wool or Alpaca. It’s even become my favorite travel souvenir, and I treasure my Scottish wool and Peruvian Alpaca sweaters.
Traveling to pick up a sweater may not be the most practical thing. However, you can still find a great wool sweater at home. I love this recycled one from Patagonia.
Peacoat or Light Trench Coat
It all depends on where you’re traveling, but the further North, the colder Italy is in the winter. A peacoat is great for providing warmth and looking great. In the spring, opt for a light trench coat for the classic European look.
These are great all year round as you can never go wrong with a pair of leather boots. Women can wear them with a pair of chinos and a blouse, while men can pair them with just about anything from jeans, chinos, and even a suit.
Essential for those chilly days. You will want to keep your feet nice and warm as you walk around. We travel with a couple of Darn Tough Merino socks, and our feet have never felt cold. As a bonus, they’re produced in Vermont!
There are only a few travel items I recommend everyone have and one of them is the down jacket. A down jacket is one of those staples and it’s tremendously versatile. We always recommend you always bring a great packable down jacket on just about any extended trip.
This is a travel staple and a great wardrobe choice for both women and men traveling in Italy. They act as an accessory to your outfit, and they’re super comfortable, giving you an added layer of warmth.
Again, when it comes to both fashion and comfort, spring in Italy is all about layering. Scarves are especially great for travelers: They can spice up an outfit that you’ve already worn three days in a row and can be thrown into a bag or purse to pull out when the sun sets, and the weather gets chilly.
Accessories For Italy
We spend enough time attached to our phones in everyday life and planning our trips. Once we reach a destination like Italy we put the phone away and pick up a guidebook to help with our trip.
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Traveling with freshwater in hand is important as it is easy to get dehydrated when out. We like to use insulated stainless steel travel water bottles because they are well insulated and great for the environment reducing plastic waste. The insulated water bottles also handle the hot sun well. Hydro Flask water bottles are some of our favorites!
We’ve suffered through enough red-eye flights to never forget to pack a travel pillow for international flights. My favorite travel pillow is the Cabeau Evolution Pillow, but we break down more of our favorite travel pillows here.
Packing cubes are great for any backpack or suitcase. They keep all of your clothes and toiletries organized. I’ve had these Eagle Creek cubes for three years now and think they were worth the investment to stay organized and create space in my luggage.
For the women, I suggest traveling with a theft-proof purse that is black and stylish to hold belongings. Cameron has a great passport wallet that holds his passport and credit cards so he never leaves it anywhere.
No matter what we recommend traveling with some sort of protection for your passport to save it from wear or any unforeseen accidents.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
It’s always a good idea to keep your toiletries organized and separated from your clothes. So we love always travel with a toiletry bag; however, Italian bathrooms can be cramped and small. If you are limited on counter space a great option is to buy a hanging toiletry bag.
This style of the bag tends to have a better organization system with a variety of sections for storage than the traditional option. Toiletries you’ll want to pack for Italy are body lotion, nail clippers, dental hygiene, UV lip balm, deodorant, razor, cotton swabs, and cosmetics.
You will definitely need an adaptor for your electronics on your packing list for Europe. We always keep one handy in our carry-on bags, that way we can charge electronics on arrival or at the airport. Italian outlets use the Europlug and I would recommend getting one before you land on Amazon.
While I love having a good real book when I travel, sometimes it’s just not practical because of the weight — keep them at home. If you plan to island-hop, you’ll want to pack fairly light.
We switched to a Kindle Paperwhite for travel because it is small and compact, plus it has a backlight for reading at night without a harsh glare. The Paperwhite version is great as they mimic a real book, and you can read them in the sun.
Many of the big tourist sites have self-guided tours. Like the Museums and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I find it’s always nice to have your own personal earbuds to stick into your ear for these tours. No one wants to stick dirty headphones over their head or use disposable ones that you’ll toss away after. They’re small and easy to carry along.
I love traveling with a power bank to make sure my phone never dies. I don’t need to use it on long flights most of the time as some of the nicer airlines provide entertainment systems with USB ports! We also make sure to find a charging point during layovers, but getting to a new city without your hotel reservations and map can be a major pain in the ass.
You Need This To Travel in Italy!
We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. Natasha is a bit of a worrywart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads offers incredible flexibility and great plans!
You never know if the worse could happen while you’re abroad and often your insurance plan at home will not cover medical emergencies abroad. Having the peace of mind that we have a good backup plan helps us sleep at night.
What Not to Pack For Italy
Fanny Pack/Money Belt
This shouldn’t need to be said, but please do not wear a fanny pack. Also, forget about the silly money belts and travel wallets. Pickpockets exist in Itlay, are well aware of travel belts, and easily remove them from a bumbling tourist. It’s much better to practice good habits and avoid making yourself an easy mark.
Silly Travel Accessories
Don’t fall for silly travel accessories that are unnecessary expenses like a neck wallet, jet lag pills, charcoal tablets, or a female urination device. If you do plan on investing in travel accessories, stick with the classics. Useful investments for travel are quality luggage, packing cubes, a toiletry bag, power bank, adapters, or noise-canceling headphones. We use eye masks and earplugs all the time as well!
We touched on this earlier, but athletic clothes are meant for the gym or being active. Italians love their sports and stay active themselves, so they aren’t ignorant to athletic wear. However, spending the day in a pair of athletic shorts, tank top, or running shoes is frowned upon. Don’t get me wrong, you can wear what you want when it’s hot out, but you’ll be pegged as a tourist.
For the most part, you’ll find shorts on very few Italians, as in almost none. That being said, attitudes are changing, and I’m sure they’ll warm up to the idea, pun intended with global warming. For the most part, ditch the shorts unless the heat is truly oppressive. It’s more common for women to wear shorts than men.
Boys – please don’t get caught in a baseball hat in Italy, you will 100% be pegged for as an American tourist – and not in a good way. You’ll see some Europeans and maybe Italians in flat bill hats from the American Hip-Hop culture. However, that is by no means the average Italian or European.
White Athletic Socks
Italians do not wear white socks. Try to wear patterns, black socks, or to match your socks to your pants.
What To Pack for Italy
You don’t need to pack everything on this list! Instead, base the packing list on where you’re headed and what you’ll be doing in Italy. Of course, there are no hard rules here, and packing doesn’t need to be stressful, nor do you need to buy all new stuff. We make suggestions here, and I’m sure you’ve got similar items in your closet at home.
My advice is to pack a few staples and go easy on the luggage. They’re timeless, and with the right selection, you can mix and match clothes. This will keep your luggage light while having a multitude of outfits for different occasions. The key is finding versatile items and having an idea of the season/climate of your trip.
Tips For Visting Italy
Check out a handful of tips for your first trip to Italy or you can catch more on our full blog post for more great tips.