Updated on October 8, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
Everywhere you go in Italy, you’re surrounded by history, friendly smiles, and the sights and smells of some of the most delicious food you’ll ever taste. It’s truly a destination you’ll always remember!
Many travelers don’t know what to wear in Italy and tend to over or under pack. With that in mind I’ve created a list of 17 must-have items for your Italian adventure – enjoy, and buon viaggio!
What to Pack for Italy – 17 Essentials
#1 – Homeopathic Jet Lag relief pills
The trip to Italy can be a long and exhausting one with a big change from your local timezone. I’ve found that these natural jet lag pills work surprisingly well and they don’t have any negative side effects! Any frequent traveler understands the importance of minimizing jet lag because otherwise you lose multiple days due to debilitating tiredness both on the way there and the way home.
#2 – Italy Power Adapter
Standard US electronic cords do not fit into Italian outlets, so in order to keep your phone and other electronics charged you’ll need a power adapter specifically designed for Italian outlets. It’s crucial to get a decent adapter, as the risk of frying electronic devices with a faulty adapter is one most of us would rather not take.
#3 – Gorgeous Outfit:
Italy’s nightlife scene can be a wonderful experience. Whether you’re going to restaurants or bars you will want a very stylish outfit. Even if you’ll mostly be casual on your Italy trip, you will want to have at least one killer outfit that you feel good in. This jumpsuit is lightweight, doesn’t wrinkle easily and looks great on many body types.
#4 – Lipstick-sized USB charger
While in Italy you’ll likely be away from a power source for extended periods of time. This nifty little external USB power bank solves the problem. It means that you can charge your phone, camera, iPad or any USB device while you’re out and about. And it’s literally the size of lipstick. I can’t tell you how many times it saved me when I needed to check Google Maps at the end of the day to get back to my hotel when my phone was almost out of power!
#5 – HERO Packing Cubes
It’s hard to simultaneously pack light and ensure that you have everything you need for a destination like Italy. These packing cubes (pictured) make that task immeasurably easier, and will provide you with an excellent way of compartmentalizing your items while still keeping them super accessible.
Use the coupon code “HERO” to get an exclusive 10% discount.
#6 – Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Italy has been known to censor parts of the Internet. This means that certain websites that you might want to visit won’t be accessible unless you have a good VPN like NordVPN.
Although, what I’ve found to be the most important feature of a VPN is the security it delivers. My family and I learned this the hard way when we were in Europe where I had my credit card number stolen after using the Internet at our Airbnb apartment.
If you go on anyone’s WiFi network while traveling such as at a restaurant, hotel or airport etc you’re potentially putting all your important information at risk of being hijacked. But with a VPN you are protecting your passwords, credit cards and identity with just one click. Plus, it works on all devices and it’s really inexpensive!
#7 – Pashmina Shawl Wrap
Many travelers have been turned away from religious sites or more conservative attractions due to being improperly or immodestly dressed, and a simple lightweight shawl can help prevent that. This item is easy to pack, lightweight, comfortable, and fashionable, and can help you avoid be turned away from such sites. As an added bonus, a shawl like this can give you an easy extra layer to ward off an evening chill, cover your eyes while napping on a train, or quickly dress up a simple outfit if you decide to go to a nicer restaurant and feel under-dressed.
#8 – Italian Phrasebook and Dictionary
Italians love their colloquial phrases and idioms, and they’re generally pretty welcoming to friendly and respectful tourists. This means you’ll likely hear a lot of local Italian phrases, and you don’t want to be caught off-guard when someone uses a less-common local saying. Phrasebooks like this one are specifically formatted to be useful for travelers, with chapters of helpful every-day phrases and a translation dictionary included.
#9 – Neck Wallet
Italian pickpockets are masters at pinching your valuables when you least expect it. With a neck wallet you can keep your passport, cash, credit cards, and even a cellphone concealed under your clothing so that there is no chance of them being stolen.
Note: My wife and I personally designed this neck wallet based on years of experience and have recently launched it on Amazon. It also comes with a helpful guide on “How to Avoid Pickpockets & Other Travel Scams”. And to celebrate our launch, we’re offering an exclusive 15% discount to our readers! Use this coupon “4EWNMVQ8” at checkout. Only available in the USA.
#10 – Travel Insurance for Italy
Travel insurance is essential for Italy travel. Just like you can’t drive a car without car insurance or have a home without home insurance, you shouldn’t travel overseas without travel insurance. You certainly don’t want to have to foot the bill for any stolen items, and getting home in case of a health issue is much easier to swallow when insurance is paying for it. I highly recommend using World Nomads as they’re designed for travelers by travelers and cover just about anything that can go wrong.
#11 – Filtered Water Bottle
In much of Italy, the water can be amazing and in many villages, towns and cities they have quaint public drinking water fountains which offer a free way to fill up your water for the day. With this said, there are some places that may heavily chlorinate the water and other locations where it might not be so safe to drink from the tap. For this reason, we always recommend bringing a Brita filtered water bottle to bring peace-of-mind and to save buying bottled water in plastic which is a big environmental pollutant.
#12 – Windproof Travel Umbrella
This may seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning: it rains quite a bit in many parts of Italy. The climate in most regions is Mediterranean or subtropical, and the rainy season typically lasts from September through April, though summer rains are not uncommon. I’ve used this umbrella in strong wind and it rarely flips inside-out and it’s very lightweight. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
#13 – Comfortable, attractive flats
Italy is a place of fashion, especially in the cities and you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking. Wearing sneakers is a sure giveaway that you’re a tourist, so opt for something like these flats that are more fashionable but still comfortable. These ones offer a nice balance, and are comfortable enough to walk around all day in.
#14 – Lightweight Day Pack
With so many wondrous sites to explore, you’ll certainly be doing some day trips in Italy. I’ve found this Venture Pal backpack is the ideal sized bag for a successful day trip and it’s VERY affordable too. It is lightweight and has a lot of little compartments for all your needs.
#15 – Mosquito Repellent Bracelets
Mosquitoes can be the bane of Italy’s otherwise lovely summers. Places like Florence, Rome, and Milan are often swarming with the little blood suckers, not to mention the locations directly on the coast! I’ve found that these wristbands are a very effective way to avoid getting bitten and they last for a very long time. You may also want to bring some extra spray on repellent as well in case it’s really bad where you are.
#16 – Travel Toilet Paper
Italy is not an unclean place in general, but tourists are often surprised to find that bathrooms are not quite as well-equipped as they are at home. Travel toilet paper is an experienced-traveler’s best friend, and can really save you if you are staying in hostels, traveling by train or bus, or backpacking often.
#17 – Solid shampoo
On your flight to Italy and on shorter local flights, you’ll have to measure your liquids carefully. So having a bar or two of solid shampoo is convenient way to cut down your liquids and it minimizes the chance of a mess throughout your suitcase too. I was skeptical at first but a friend assured me it works as well as regular shampoo and I’ve been hooked ever since. This brand takes special care to be eco-friendly, as well!
Other items you shouldn’t forget when traveling to Italy:
Headphones and/or Earplugs
Soap Travel Tin
Travel First Aid Kit
Women’s and Men’s Flip Flops
Stain Remover Wipes
Italy power adapter
Women’s and Men’s Sunglasses
Travel Sheet and Travel Pillow
Journal or Notebook
What should I wear in Italy?
When going out to dinner it doesn’t hurt to dress up a little, and when you’re out for the day you’ll want to look decent and feel comfortable.
Bear in mind that the climate in most parts of the country is a mix of subtropical and warm-temperate (Mediterranean climate), and that Italy experiences seasons like much of the US.
SPRING – March, April, May:
Spring is a fantastic time in Italy – flowers are blooming, temperatures and weather are mild, and most of the winter’s chill has gone. You’re not safe from precipitation in this season, though – you will see some rain in most parts of the country, and you’ll need to pack accordingly.
Bonus tip: brightly-colored umbrellas are often carried by tour guides as beacons for their tour groups to follow, so try to choose one for yourself that’s not ostentatious, unless you feel like being mistakenly followed by a gaggle of tourists on St. Mark’s Square! Temperatures average between 60°F and 75°F (16°C and 24°C).
SUMMER – June, July, August:
Plan to bring a swim suit if you plan to spend any time near water – this is the season for beach activities, after all. If you have the opportunity for a dip in any of the seas that border Italy, you won’t want to miss it!
A sun hat, sunscreen, and light layers are very necessary regardless of where you are. Cute linen pants are ideal, as are comfortable and cute walking sandals. Temperatures average between 77°F and 86°F (25°C and 30°C).
FALL – September, October, November:
Autumn in Italy is an easy-to-love shoulder season. Vines hang heavy with ripe grapes, foliage is thick, the air is sweet, and the heat abates and gives way to soft breezes in most parts of the country. Nights are cooler, so you’ll want to bring layers and a shawl to ward off any chills.
WINTER – December, January, February:
You will absolutely need a fleece or a good jacket for warmth. Also plan to bring a hat, gloves, and scarves to keep you warm while you’re out and about. Good, warm boots and walking shoes are crucial! Temperatures average between 50°F and 55°F (10°C and 13°C).
What NOT to take to Italy
1) DON’T PACK an overly full suitcase: If you plan on bringing home any souvenirs, you’ll definitely need to leave space for them in your bags. There’s also the fact that a packed suitcase tends to be a heavy one. This can lead to fatigue from carting the bags around and it can cause problems with picky airline officials. Just leave the extra stuff like shoes, clothes, heavy books, computers, and guitars at home. Your wallet and your back/arms will thank you.
2) DON’T BRING hairdryers: Most hotel/hostels have them so there’s really no need to heft around the extra weight and bulk.
3) DON’T TRAVEL WITH expensive or irreplaceable items: It’s never a good idea to bring expensive belongings along for the ride. These things tend to either be lost or stolen with alarming regularity, but most travel insurance has a limit on how much you can claim in personal damages if they will even allow you to do that. The best way to avoid a hassle is to simply leave anything at home that can’t be replaced.
4) DON’T BRING extremely short shorts/skirts: Italian churches don’t let people in that are improperly covered. This means that any skirts and shorts you plan on wearing must reach at least to your knees. Your shoulders likewise should be kept under wraps if you plan on visiting the country’s many religious sites. Italy tends to air on the more conservatively-dressed side anyway, so you won’t regret dressing accordingly.
5) AVOID typical “Tourist” wear: If you want to blend in with the locals avoid filling your suitcase with questionable fashion choices like fanny packs, white sneakers, camouflage clothes, Hawaiian print garments, and so on. After all, people who look like tourists tend to be among the favorite targets of pickpockets everywhere.
6) DON’T PACK extremely high heels or other uncomfortable shoes: These aren’t going to mix well with the cobblestone streets that can be found in many Italian cities, particularly if you are a clumsy individual, and may severely limit the amount of exploring you can do.
FAQs about travel in Italy
#1 – What is a good, basic daily budget for Italy?
#2 Do I need to tip in restaurants in Italy?
No. Most places will include a service charge on the bill anyway. While leaving up to 2 euros in change will certainly be appreciated by the wait staff, it’s not required at all.
#3 – What are some interesting places that I might want to add to my itinerary for Italy?
#4 – What is the best time of year to visit Italy?
The country is naturally at its coldest and wettest during the winter. However, it is almost always slightly warmer in the southernmost portions of Italy than it is in the far north. Even so, the low season can be a godsend for budget travelers who don’t mind bad weather or working around attractions with reduced hours.
#5 – What are some good Italian movies to watch before my trip?
We have compiled a list of the best Italian movies of all time which will give you plenty of great options. We’ve selected numerous movies set in Italy which will definitely get you excited about your vacation and we also list romance, mafia, horror and many more. Honestly, watching Italian films with English subtitles is one of the best ways to learn the language and get the Italian vibe flowing!
#6 – What’s the best way to get from Rome to Venice and vice versa?
#7 – How much will a traditional cooking class cost me in Italy?
Naturally, it varies. The cost is usually dependent on how long the class lasts and what’s included. You may nonetheless luck out and find a highly rated experience that runs between $30 and $50 per person. These classes typically cover one or two basic dishes and don’t last very long, which is probably just fine for some travelers. However, most lesson prices start around $80 and go up to about $160. These normally last longer and cover more dishes. Just be sure to adjust your trip budget accordingly if this is an activity that you plan on doing during your stay.
#8 – What are Italy’s major airports?
#9 – What are the main ferry ports in Italy and where do the ferries go?
The ones that will be of most interest to travelers leave from places on the country’s eastern coast such as Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, and Venice. These boats typically head across the Adriatic Sea to countries on the other side like Greece, Croatia, Albania, and Montenegro. Ferries also leave from places on the Tyrrhenian Coast such as Genoa, Civitavecchia, and Livorno. They head for destinations such as Barcelona and Naples as well as nearby islands like Corsica and Sicily. Of course, there are far more ferry services available than just those listed here.
#10 – Is it safe for women to travel alone in Italy?
Absolutely! Women travel around Italy on solo trips frequently, and seldom have any issues. Most troubles can be avoided with basic travel-sense and standard precautions. Don’t walk alone at night, keep your valuables to a minimum and wear them close to you in a passport pouch. If you’re concerned about travel safety, it’s best to research current travel warnings before you finalize your plans.
Italy Travel Packing List
As a summary, here’s our recommended 10-day packing list for Italy (including what to wear):
- 1 carry-on suitcase
- 1 regular suitcase or rolling duffle
- 1 cute rain jacket
- 2 pairs of dark pants or jeans
- 2 sweaters or cardigans
- 1 killer going-out outfit
- Several modest but fashionable tops
- 4 or 5 T-shirts
- Underwear and socks
- 1 Scarf or shawl
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 swimsuit cover-up
- 1 or 2 pairs of shorts for warm weather
- 1 sundress
- Bugspray and/or mosquito wristbands
- Cute walking flats
- Boots if visiting during colder season
- 1 or 2 pairs Sunglasses
- 1 portable lipstick-sized charger
- 1 windproof umbrella
- 1 concealable passport holder
- 1 pocket Italian/English dictionary
- Packing cubes
- 1 or 2 Power Adapters for Italy
- Virtual Private Network
- Cute Daybag
- 1 RFID-blocking wallet
- 1 Water Bottle
- Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
- Personal Travel Safe
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Italy guidebook
- 1 eReader or Kindle
- 1 hanging toiletry bag
- Waterproof camera
- Flexible Tripod
- Travel insurance
- Credit cards (ideally with zero transaction fees)
- Visa (if applicable)
- Small amount of cash
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