The ultimate Italy packing guide
Ah, Italy. Home to one of the first major empires, the Renaissance greats, Etruscan architecture, cutting-edge fashion, and—of course—pizza. From its quaint towns to the coastal villages and the modern metropolises, a trip to Italy has so much to offer.
But with so many things to do comes even more that you have to plan for. We’ve got the best tips for packing for a trip to Italy, so you can focus on having a primo time on tour.
How to prepare for a trip to Italy
You already know all roads lead to Rome. But what happens if you’re not even there yet?
- Do your research. Before you book a trip, figure out where you want to go. Do you prefer the history of Rome, or the art of Florence? Do you want to lay on the beach in Cinque Terre, or walk through the ruins of Pompeii on tour? Here are some tips for finding where to go on your first trip to Italy.
- Go guided. When you go on a guided tour, an expert will escort you to all of the top destinations and tell you everything you want to know. Plus, you won’t have to plan a thing.
- Know what to pack. Knowing what to pack for Italy is going to be your best way to make the most of your trip. After all, that’s what this whole guide is about!
Looking for more Italy travel advice? Read what one of our Tour Directors has to say.
Italy packing list essentials
No matter when you visit, these items are a must for any Italy packing guide.
- Your passport. You (quite literally) cannot travel to Italy without it! Be sure you know where it is before you leave, and double-check to make sure it’s valid for at least six months after the tour’s return and has at least three blank pages.
- Travel adaptor. One of the most important things to buy before going to Italy is a plug adaptor. Italy uses three plug types: C, F and L. Type C plugs have two round pins, type F has two round pins with clips on the top and bottom, and type L has three round pins in a row. Most hotel rooms have a mixture of type F (used throughout Europe) and L (Italian only), but know that you can use a type F in a type C outlet and type C in a type L outlet (confusing, we know). As long as you have one of these power adapters, you’ll be absolutely fine.
- A small day bag. Many churches and museums will not allow you to bring in large backpacks for security purposes—you’ll need to check them at the door. However, you can wear a small day bag, like a cross-body travel bag or stylish mini backpack, on your front.
- RFID money belt or wallet. Italy’s city streets can get busy, and like in any country with a lot of tourists, you’ll want to be wary of pickpockets. RFID can protect your credit card info from electronic theft, and a money belt will conceal your cash without ruining your outfit.
- Portable charger. As you float along Venice’s canals, take in the Renaissance mastery of Florence, or walk along ancient streets in Rome, you’re going to snap a bunch of gorgeous photos of Italy. That means you’ll need a phone battery that can keep up. Pack a small portable charger, and you won’t have to worry at all!
- Reusable water bottle. This isn’t just one of our eco-friendly travel essentials. It’ll also save you money—see ya, pricey plastic water bottles. Italy’s tap water is safe to drink, and you can fill your bottle with fresh, cold water at Roman aqueducts built thousands of years ago—so it’s an authentic experience, too. Just try not to ask bars or restaurants to refill it for you, as this isn’t common practice in Italy.
- A stylish pair of walking shoes. Italy is famous for its fashionable footwear. But it’s also known for its cobblestones streets and steps. So, while you may be tempted to dress as fashionably as the locals, we recommend erring on the side of comfort to save yourself from blisters. There are all kinds of walking shoes that will look and feel great as you’re climbing the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo in Florence or exploring Rome’s more than 2,000 fountains.
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What to pack for Italy in the spring and summer
Because Italy has four seasons, just like we do back at home, your Italy packing list for summer is going to look a bit different than your list for the winter. If you’re visiting Rome in the spring, temperatures range between 60°F and 75°F. In the summer, they can reach around 86°F with high humidity. So, here are the things to buy before going to Italy during the sunnier seasons.
- Stylish, yet conservative clothing. Shorts and tank tops aren’t very common throughout Italy, but that doesn’t mean the locals aren’t fashionable. Italians tend to dress on the more professional side and look down on items like athletic leggings, shorts, and crop tops. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in shorts unless you’re spending the day on the water, like Lake Como and the Italian Riviera. A breezy blouse or button down and a pair of light pants will be your best friend for keeping cool while looking cool, too.
- Shawl or pashmina. If you’re going into any churches like St. Mark’s Basilica or the Vatican, expect to cover up. You won’t be allowed in with bare shoulders or knees. Plus, your shawl will also protect you from the hot Italian sun.
- Light jacket. While spring and summer can be pretty sweltering, one of the best packing tips for Italy is to pack a light jacket—even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Nights can get a little chilly, especially if you’re by the coast.
- Sandals with support. Just like athletic gear, wearing flip flops will be a surefire way to stand out as a tourist. Locals just don’t wear them. So, if you choose to pack sandals for your trip to Italy, make sure they’re stylish ones that are comfortable enough to do a lot of walking in.
- Bathing suit. No Italy packing guide for a summer trip would be complete without one—especially if you’re planning a tour to Cinque Terre!
- Mosquito repellent. Italy’s summers are so lovely that even mosquitoes can’t resist the urge to see the sites with you. The major cities, like Florence and Rome, can get pretty buggy, as can many spots in Southern Italy. A simple mosquito bracelet or little bottle of spray can keep you itch-free and feeling fabulous.
What to pack for Italy in the fall and winter
In the fall, Italian days are a sunny 65°F to 75°F, and in the winter, they get as low as 50°F. Nights get even cooler, and it rains a bit more during these seasons, too. So, if you’re seeking tips for packing for a trip to Italy in the cooler months, keep reading.
- Umbrella and raincoat. Italy tends to see the majority of its rainfall in late-October and early November. “I personally always bring a small umbrella or disposable poncho in my cross-body bag when traveling no matter the time of year,” says Go Ahead staffer Wesley. “Luck tends to favor the prepared.”
- Puffy coat. These are so easy to pack because they’re light and compact, and they keep you nice and toasty.
- Scarf. You’ll have an extra layer of warmth, while always having something with you to cover up in the more conservative churches.
- Wool hat. While Italy’s weather doesn’t get terribly cold, it can feel colder when combined with the wind—especially as you explore the epic coastlines of Northern Italy. Add a fashionable hat to your Italy travel packing list, and you’ll be all set.
- Lightweight boots. A good pair of lightweight boots will keep you warm, while making sure you look as stylish as all the locals do.
What not to pack
We’ve told you about all the different things to buy before going to Italy. Now, we’re sharing a few things you may want to leave at home.
- Sunscreen. Skip the risk of your sunscreen leaking all over your luggage, and pick some up at a local farmacia (or pharmacy), instead. It’s only a few euro!
- Leather jackets or boots. Speaking of practical souvenirs, leave your leather at home because Italy is known for theirs. Leather jackets and boots are very affordable, and very fashionable, too.
- Shorts. We touched upon this above, but we’re going to say it again: Italians don’t wear shorts, unless they’re at the beach. It’s culturally inappropriate to wear them in the cities and on tours.
- Athletic clothing. Similarly, leave your athletic clothes, like leggings, yoga pants, or sports tanks at home. They’ll just make you stand out as a tourist.
- Big backpacks or totes. If you bring one of these, you’ll be forced to check it at the entrance of most big museums. It’s best to opt for a shoulder bag, instead—or a small bag you can carry in front of you.
- Traveler’s checks. Italians primarily use cash, and traveler’s checks can be a bit of a nuisance. Street-side exchange kiosks come with big fees, and waiting in long lines at banks can be a big waste of time. Instead, make sure you have cash on-hand (or in your money belt), and be sure to pack a debit card, just in case.
And one last tip: leave space for souvenirs! Italy is the ultimate souvenir destination. Even if you don’t bring home the traditional souvenirs, like intricately painted ceramics, clothing, or leather accessories, you’ll probably end up bringing home some of the incredible food. Whether that’s wine, olive oil, truffles, cookies, pastas, or cheeses, these souvenirs are worth leaving space in your suitcase to bring home.
Interested in booking a trip to Italy? Check out our Italy tours!