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What you Need to Pack for your Vacation to Italy

Things I'm glad I had -or wished I had!- on my first visit to Italy.

Piazza Navona in Rome

Benvenuto a Italia! Italy is a bucket list destination for so many people across the globe. And for good reason! The history, the culture, the Mediterranean climate, the FOOD...

When I first visited Italy, there were a few things I'm very glad that I prepared for, and a few things that took me by surprise! Here's all the things I'm really very extra glad I had with me on my Italian vacation, plus a few things I really wish I had brought!

Your Best Walking Shoes

Think about your best vacation shoes. Now make them better. Those are the shoes you want to bring. I live and die by my comfortable travel slip-ons. In Rome, my go-to vacation shoes completely and utterly failed me.

You will be walking a lot. Both car traffic and public transit in Italy can be chaotic, especially in Rome. More often than not, the most effective way to get wherever you’re going will be on your own two feet. And 90% of that walking will be on uneven cobblestone streets. Yes even on the main thoroughfares! Pack shoes that will give you support and power you through 20,000 step days. And bring band-aids for when you inevitably get blisters anyway.

a redhead in front of a fountain in Piazza Navona Rome

Lighter Clothing Than you Think you Need

This can vary a little depending on what part of Italy you’re in, but when I visited Rome and Florence, I packed a little too heavy when it came to clothing weight. I saw forecasted temperatures in the 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit range, and came armed with plenty of long pants options and several different weights of jackets and cardigans. I threw a single pair of shorts in my luggage almost as an afterthought “just in case” and I’m SO glad I did.

Italian cities are made of stone. Stone streets. Stone sidewalks. Stone bridges. Stone buildings. Stone absorbs and radiates heat whenever the sun hits it. Walking in Italy on a 70-degree day is HOT. Think about all that sunbaked stone when you’re doing your packing and thank me later!

interior of a Roman church with a painted ceiling

A Scarf

No matter what season you’re visiting, a scarf is a must-have accessory in Italy. 

Italy is covered in beautiful churches. They’re constructed with mind-blowingly beautiful architecture, and packed with amazing art, from frescoes to statues to gilded ceilings. No matter what your religious affiliation is (or isn’t) the churches of Rome are an unmissable sight. 

They’re also EVERYWHERE. No matter where you’re walking, odds are you’ll walk past a church that will be begging you to duck inside and explore.

The catch? These churches usually have dress codes. There may not be a sign at the door (though there will be at the Vatican!), but you’ll at best get dirty looks if you go into a church with uncovered shoulders or in short shorts. Having a scarf in your bag that you can throw over your shoulders, or tie around your waist like a skirt, means you’re always prepared to explore the beautiful cathedrals you happen across in your travels.

a public water fountain in Rome

A Reusable Water Bottle

Many cities in Italy, Rome especially, will be covered with these:

These are spring-fed water fountains that are nearly always running, and the water that comes out of them is 100% potable. Make like the locals do and stop at these gorgeous babies frequently to clean your hands, splash some water on the back of your neck, and fill up your water bottles. You’ll stay hydrated, and save tons of money on bottled water. I saw fewer of these around in Florence, but they’re everywhere in Rome, and I even spotted one in the Cinque Terre!

Some Basic Italian Phrases

This is just good manners anytime you’re visiting a foreign country, but I found it especially helpful in Italy. My Italian is actually pretty decent, but even in the moments where I stumbled over my words or had to switch to English, I got significantly better service, especially at quick-stop places like cafes, souvenir shops, and pharmacies. 

Plus, if you plan to do any market shopping where the prices may not be printed on the items, if you ask for the price in Italian, you’ll usually get quoted a lower price. This happened to me twice at the leather markets in Florence! “Conto constano?” means “How much do they cost?” in Italian, or “conto costa?” if you’re referring to a singular item. Learn these phrases, and brush up on the words for numbers so you can understand the response!

Click here for my full list of essential foreign phrases to pick up before you travel!

Your Patience

Italy is beyond beautiful. It’s also chaotic and FULL of tourists. Check out this photo of the tourism crowd at the Trevi Fountain!

a crowd of tourists around the Trevi Fountain

You’ll be happier in Italy if you can adopt a mindset of not rushing. There’s a lot to see, but you’ll get there when you get these. Be willing to take a slow walk to your next destination when the bus is late, or when the tram doesn’t arrive at all. Be prepared to wait in line for a few minutes before you toss your coin into the Trevi Fountain. Buy tickets in advance to any landmarks you want to see, but still plan to wait in an entry line (albeit a much smaller one) before you actually get to see all the cool ancient stuff. Going to Italy prepared to be mentally flexible will serve you well.

And That's What to Pack for Italy!

And now you're ready! La dolce vida Italiana awaits! Enjoy!

Need some assistance fitting all these Italian essentials into your luggage? Want more Arts and Adventures? Subscribe today and you'll receive a FREE Packing Light List: the ultimate guide to packing everything you need and nothing you don't!

Love and Shenanigans,


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