What to Wear in Italy & Italy Packing List for All Seasons

What to Wear in Italy: Procida Island, Italy
What to Wear in Italy: Procida Island, Italy

If you are planning a trip to the Mediterranean, no doubt the question of what to wear in Italy will cross your mind. In all honesty, the answer really depends on the activities that you plan on doing during your trip, and the time of year during which you are travelling. In any case, this guide and Italy Packing List ought to help you plan your trip to Italy

How Do Italians Dress? 

It’s no secret that Italians are world-renowned for being stylish and fashion-conscious. This is a stereotype though and it really does depend on where you go. In Milan, Veneto, and other northern parts of the country a lot of the people are so chic that I felt like a homeless bag lady in comparison.

In Southern Italy and Sicily, the general attitude to clothing is more laid back and relaxed, with people opting for casual attire like shirts and shorts, jeans, etc. Here I felt that my homeless bag lady flex was more accepted. Homeless bag ladies welcome in the south. 

Jokes aside though, Italy is a very liberal country. Although I’ll make recommendations on what to wear in Italy here, they are more for practicality rather than attempts to fit in or look a certain way. Rest assured you won’t receive any frosty reception if you choose to wear simple casual clothes wherever you go. I always recommend that you should opt to wear whatever you are most comfortable in. Italians are warm and friendly people, regardless of what you look like. 

What to Wear in Italy by Season

Any mention of Italy may conjure up images of a Meditteranean paradise, and of beautiful people strolling along cobbled promenades beneath the lemon groves in their floral sun dresses all year round. The important thing to note though, is that Italy can get relatively chilly in the winter. Italian winters are milder than most, but you are going to want to layer up if travelling during this time. 

A suggested packing list for both Spring/Summer, and Fall/Winter in Italy is detailed below for your reference. 

What to Wear in Italy:
Italy Packing List for Spring and Summer 

What to Wear in Italy: Glamorous Capri
What to Wear in Italy: Glamorous Capri
  • A comfortable pair of walking shoes/hiking sandals  
  • Cute sandals for day to evening wear 
  • A comfy pair of flip flops for being at the hotel/Airbnb 
  • A small backpack for city exploration 
  • A small handbag for going out at night 
  • 2-3 pairs of comfortable shorts 
  • 3-4 casual tops or shirts 
  • 2-3 summer dresses
  • 2-3 stylish dresses or evening outfits 
  • 2 light cardigans or jackets for the evenings 
  • 2-3 bikinis or swimsuits (depending on the location) 
  • A sarong for beach cover-up 
  • A small beach towel 
  • Bras and pants 
  • Light pyjamas/nightwear 
  • An umbrella or light rain cover 

Comfortable Hiking/Walking Shoes 

Chances are that you are going to be on your feet all day, for most days of your Italian adventure. Cities like Rome, Florence and Venice are perfect for exploring on foot, but you should not underestimate the value of a really comfy walking shoe. 

I have some North Face hiking sandals that I take everywhere. Admittedly they are not the most stylish shoes in the world, but if you’ve just spent eight hours of your day exploring, queuing, and visiting museums, I’ll bet that you will be really thankful that you invest them. Cute sandals are not so cute if they damage your feet or have you hobbling after a few hours. 

These shoes come in especially handy for doing longer walks and hikes like the Path of the Gods hike at the Amalfi Coast.

Cute Sandals/Evening Wear Shoes

Pack a stylish pair of sandals, heels or dress shoes for evenings in Italy, going out for dinner, etc. One word of wisdom though: avoid thin stilettos if you can! Many Italian city streets are paved with small cobblestones that are a nightmare to navigate in heels and make walking from one bar to another feel like you are participating in an assault course.

A Comfy Pair of Flip Flops for Being at the Hotel/Airbnb 

Pack a comfy pair of flip flops for wandering around your hotel. Unless you are staying somewhere rather luxurious, your accommodation may not provide slippers. Packing your own is much better than going barefoot! 

A Small Backpack for City Exploration 

A cute little backpack of 5L or so in size is perfect to take with you when out sightseeing during the day. A bag of this size will be big enough to fit all of your essential travel items – camera, powerbank, snacks and drinks, etc, without it being too clunky to carry around. 

A Small Handbag for Evenings Out 

As practical as little day rucksacks are, they are not quite the stylish accessory for pairing with an evening dress. Pack a small handbag that is big enough for all of the essentials, that you can take with you for meals and evenings out.  

2-3 Pairs of Comfortable Shorts 

If you are travelling to Italy during the summer months, keep in mind that it can get incredibly hot and humid. This is especially the case if you are travelling anywhere south of Rome and central Italy. Since temperatures upwards of 35 degrees Celsius are not unheard of, you can’t go wrong with a few pairs of comfy shorts. 

I also like to pack a pair of more stylish, fitted shorts that can be paired with a nice top and are perfect for eating at restaurants while remaining comfy. 

3-4 Tops and Shirts 

Pack 3-4 light tops and t-shirts so that you can mix and match them with your various shorts and bottoms. You can pack a few casual tees, and a few classier alternatives.

3-4 Summer Dresses

While shorts and t-shirts are both comfy and practical, sometimes you also want something a little “cuter”. Light cotton summer dresses are both stylish and light, perfect for the heat and humidity of the Italian summer. 

2-3 Stylish Evening Outfits 

A beautiful part of Italian culture is the fact that people tend to go all out and dress to impress when they go out for evening dinners and drinks. While dressing fancy is definitely not compulsory, it is a nice part of the experience.

I’d recommend packing at least a couple of “nice” clothes for going out in the evenings – whether those are stylish jumpsuits, smart dresses, or a combination of culottes and shirts – whatever you feel most comfortable in! 

2 Light Cardigans or Jackets for the Evenings 

Particularly if you are travelling to Italy during the spring or the tail end of summer, it is worth packing a light cardigan for the evenings where it can get a little breezy. 

2-3 Bikinis or Swimsuits 

When travelling to coastal regions of Italy, consider packing a couple of swimsuit options. That way, you have another for use while one is drying. 

A Sarong/Beach Cover 

A cute sarong or beach kaftan is perfect for a little added modesty when you are strolling along the beach at sunset after a day of swimming and relaxing. 

A Small Beach Towel 

Most hotels do not allow you to take their towels for use at the beach. If you are travelling to a coastal location, don’t forget to pack a light beach towel (or pick one up locally and it can double up as a souvenir!)

Underwear 

For obvious reasons! Pack a pair of pants for each day of your trip, and 2-3 bras. 

A Light Umbrella or Rain Mac 

Although summers in Italy are generally very hot and sunny, do not underestimate the force of rainfall, especially during freak tropical-style storms. When I lived in Catania, Sicily, we had powerful storms almost every other day during the summer. Packing an umbrella is very worthwhile. 

What to Wear in Italy:
Italy Packing List for Autumn and Winter 

In most parts of Italy, the weather stays relatively warm up until mid October, when the temperatures drop to around 25 degrees celsius. Despite the warm temperatures though, you can expect to see the majority of Italians donning their stylish Fall wardrobes as soon as the seasons turn.  

Winters in Italy are relatively mild, but check the expected weather conditions before your departure. Suggestions on what to wear in Italy during the Autumn and Winter months are summarised below.

  • A comfortable pair of walking shoes/closed toed sneakers  
  • Cute shoes/ankle boots for day to evening wear 
  • A comfy pair of slippers for being at the hotel/Airbnb 
  • A small backpack for city exploration 
  • A small handbag for going out at night 
  • 2-3 pairs of bottoms – either stylish knee-length skirts, culottes, or jeans. 
  • 3-4 tops (mix of long sleeves and t-shirts)
  • 2-3 stylish dresses or evening outfits 
  • One long sleeved dress
  • 2 light sweaters
  • A warm coat or outer layer 
  • A thick fluffy scarf
  • Cosy thermal socks (particularly if visiting Northern Italy) 
  • Bras and pants 
  • Pyjamas 
  • An umbrella or light rain mac

What to Wear in Italy:
Additional Things to Consider 

What to wear in Italy: Puglia
What to wear in Italy: Puglia

There are a few things that you should keep in mind when you are packing for Italy, as summarised below. 

Be Mindful of Clothes That Are Too Revealing 

Let’s be clear here, Italy is not Dubai and it is not somewhere where you need to be worried about causing offence. At the same time though, Italians do not generally walk around wearing clothes that are incredibly revealing so be mindful of your outfit choices. This is especially the case if you visit churches and religious sites where you should cover your shoulders and your knees as a general rule of thumb. 

Beachwear Stays at the Beach! 

If you are visiting beaches and coastal regions of Italy, always change from your swimsuit before venturing into the stores and restaurants along the coastline. Nobody wants to see your tatas on display when they’re enjoying a plate of pasta by the sea. 

Don’t Fret if You Forget Something 

I completely understand how stressful it can be when you are packing for a vacation and you want to make sure that you don’t forget anything important. Don’t fret though, as you are going to Italy not rural Mongolia. In the worst case scenario where you do forget something from your Italy packing list, you are in a place where you can easily pick it up locally. 

Italian clothes are renowned for being stylish and high quality. The added bonus is that they don’t always come accompanied by an exorbitant price tag either. Many local designers and independent stores sell beautiful, well made garments at reasonable prices. 

Safety Considerations 

Pickpocketing and petty theft can be a real concern in Italy, as it is in a lot of major European cities. You could consider buying a fanny pack to carry your cash and valuables (I can hear you exhaling in disgust but some of them are actually quite stylish these days!). 

When exploring the cities with your daypack, consider carrying it in front of you when walking through crowded markets in order to avoid opportunists unzipping your bag. You should also be mindful to have your backpack strapped over both shoulders, rather than having it dangling off one. Far too many backpacks have gone speeding away on the back of vespas as a result of this. 

Italy Packing List:
Non-Clothing Items 

The non-apparel items that you should include on your Italy packing list are detailed below. 

  • Passport 
  • Visa (if applicable) 
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Hotel/tour reservation information 
  • Driving license and International Driving Permit (If renting a car in Italy
  • Camera 
  • Spare memory cards for camera 
  • Selfie stick/camera tripod/camera accessories (e.g. camera bags for women)
  • Powerbank 
  • Travel adaptors (Europe uses circular two-pronged plugs) 
  • Chargers for all devices 
  • Packing cubes (helps you to organise your luggage) 
  • Toiletries bag 
  • Sunblock and aftersun lotion 

Have any further questions about what to wear in Italy, crafting an Italy packing list, organising an Italy itinerary, or Italian travel in general? I lived in Naples for a year and have travelled the country extensively so I am happy to discuss any queries that you may have. Safe travels! Melissa xo

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