17 Top Italy Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2017 Update)

What should I bring on my Italy trip?

Italy is a highly sought-after destination for tourists, and for good reason: 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!

One of the most common questions I get asked about Italy is what to pack, and I’m always excited to give tips because so many travelers tend to over or under pack, and end up unprepared. With that in mind I’ve created a list of 17 must-have items for your Italian adventure – enjoy, and buon viaggio!

1) Universal Waterproof Phone Case – This phone case is an absolute must for anyone traveling anywhere. Its universal fit means that your phone will be protected from scratches, sand, water, dirt, and most other damage while you explore the Italian coasts and countryside. With tons of amazing reviews and a price under $10, this really can’t be beat!
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2) Activated Charcoal – Travelers use these amazingly handy capsules for a variety of stomach issues, the most common being Travelers Diarrhea – this issue can happen to anyone, especially if you’re eating new food or are in a new climate. Europe is much safer than places like India or Mexico but it’s still common for travelers to get a bout of diarrhea typically lasting for 24 hrs. I recommend packing some activated charcoal to be prepared just in case of emergency. These capsules quickly absorb whatever toxins are in your system, stopping the stomach trouble at its source and quickly getting you back to normal.
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3) Travel Adapter for Italy 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.
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4) Travel insurance – While it’s definitely not fun to think about anything bad happening on your trip, it’s better to plan ahead than to be caught off-guard and unprotected by some sort of emergency. 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 when you have insurance on your side. Italy certainly a safe place in most respects, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! I highly recommend using World Nomads insurance and they’re a really popular company among frequent travelers.
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5) Toiletries and 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. Some other great items to consider are things like or baby wipes and hand sanitizer, washcloths/loofa, bar soap, hand lotion, deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, and so on. Make sure you bring along whatever you need to stay squeaky clean and presentable during your travels.
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6) Shawl – 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.
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7) 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 make that task immeasurably easier, and provide travelers with an excellent way of compartmentalizing their travel items while still keeping them accessible, and they ensure that you’ll be packing to the right dimensions of your suitcase or bag. They’re made of a tough, water-resistant Nylon that should keep your items safe and your packing cubes in good shape through many adventures.
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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 useful every-day phrases and a translation dictionary included.
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9) Italy Guidebook – While it’s never a good idea to mark yourself an obvious tourist by wandering around with a guidebook out all the time, there are certainly times when the maps and tips provided by good guidebooks can really help you navigate, and other times when you will find that the anecdotes and informational tidbits within your guide may deepen your enjoyment of what Italy has to offer. Guidebooks are also excellent ways to pass the time when you’re en route to your travel destination and aren’t worried about looking like a tourist.
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10) Travel Water Bottle – This item is absolutely crucial if you want to avoid spending tons of extra money on bottled water or relying on restaurants for it, especially if you’re going to Rome. Rome’s water is still supplied by ancient aqueducts, and has always been drinkable and delicious. Water spouts and fountains are located throughout the city for regular use, and are the easiest way to stay hydrated and refreshed. Tap water throughout Italy is seldom as drinkable, so a bottle to refill when you can is a great idea.
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11) Small Tote Bag – This item works great for holding important documents, money, credit cards, passports, tickets, snacks, and perhaps even your water bottle if it’s large enough. The tote in question gets bonus points for being big enough to hold anything you purchase when you’re shopping. After all, most places in Europe charge a small fee for giving customers the plastic bags that we take for granted in America.
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12) First Aid Supplies – I’ve survived entire vacations without towels and swimwear but I never leave home without at least a basic set of first aid supplies. Having to waste several hours on vacation hunting for a store that sells Band-Aids, when I typically buy them in bulk at home, is a waste of both time and money. The same can be said of things like antihistamine tablets, antibiotic cream, nausea medicines, and so on. Whatever you need to stay healthy and happy on the road is well worth the luggage space it’s going to take up. Just make sure that all of your gels, creams, and liquid medicines arestored in accordance with current TSA regulations.
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13) Passport Pouch – Of course you’ll be taking your passport to Italy, so it’s a good idea to bring a holder to keep it and other valuables safe and organized. When you’re in crowded places, like attractions and train or bus stations, it’s an especially good idea to avoid carrying valuables in your pockets. This pouch can hold a passport, cash, credit cards, and even a cell phone, and it’s much less likely to get stolen than a regular wallet.
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14) Flashlight and extra batteries – While I’m sure there’s a flashlight app for your phone, it’s also true that the battery for it won’t last forever. If your phone is anything like mine, it’s always dying at the absolute worst moment, and there are certain places that you just don’t want to be left in the dark. Taking along your own flashlight and some extra batteries won’t use up much space in your luggage. But it can nonetheless prevent you from having to hike up a hill in the dark using an alarm clock that rotates through every color in the rainbow as a guide. (I speak from experience.)
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15) 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.
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16) Lightweight Blanket and Pillow – These items are great for long rides, particularly if you’ll end up sleeping on the night train or you’ll be trying to get some rest on a long-haul flight from the States. Bringing your own small pillow and blanket also means that you don’t have to worry about when the ones you’re given were last washed. Even if you’re not germophobic, you still might want to sprinkle some essential oils (like lavender) on your pillow to help you sleep in an unfamiliar place, but that’s probably not something you want to have to explain to your flight attendant.
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17) Comfortable, dark colored shoes: Men and Women – These should be stylish enough to wear in restaurants so that you don’t end up with another pair taking up valuable luggage space. Just make sure that the shoes in question have already been well worn in before you depart, otherwise your feet could easily suffer the consequences.
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Other items to consider packing for to Italy


What to wear in Italy

1) Seasonally appropriate clothes that are both stylish and comfortable. When going out to dinner it doesn’t hurt to dress up a little so take a few items to cover this contingency. You’ll want to opt for lightweight clothes in summer, heavier gear in the winter, and layers during the months in between. Bear in mind that the climate in most parts of the country is a mix of subtropical and warm-temperate (Mediterranean climate). It snows in the winter but seldom drops below freezing, and the summers are very warm and humid but do not often reach upward of 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Comfortable walking shoes that have good traction and are suitable as restaurant wear. Leather boots or nice sandals are a good choice. The objective here is to wear flat shoes whenever possible, and to avoid having to pack too many pairs. However, selecting shoes with a low heel might be your best bet if you want to go somewhere nice for dinner since flats might not work otherwise. However, you’ll only want to wear flip-flops in places like the hostel showers or to the hotel swimming pool.

3) A cover-up of some sort. As touched on in the packing list above, travelers who don’t follow the standards of modest dress have been turned away at some religious sites, and that would certainly ruin some of your sight-seeing! Having a lightweight sweater or a shawl on hand during the warmer months will prevent this from happening, and will keep you comfortable in buildings with strong air conditioning. These items also double as a way to for you to keep if the temperature drops. In the winter, jackets and heavier sweaters naturally work quite well for both keeping you warm and completely under wraps.

4) Swimwear is a must if you plan on heading to the beach or spending time at the hotel pool. Just be aware that one-piece bathing suits aren’t seen on the local beaches so ladies may want to pack a bikini instead. Beach goers will probably want to bring along their own bottle of sunscreen, since it tends to be more costly in Europe.

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?

Travelers who don’t mind staying in hostel dorms, doing some self-catering, seeing a few paid attractions, and taking public transport should be able to get by on a basic daily budget of $75 in most spots. However, you might nonetheless want to add a bit more money to that tally if you plan on visiting Venice because the city is not known for its affordability. Your money naturally will go further in smaller towns than it will in large metropolises. Even so, it’s always a good idea to have a monetary buffer of a few hundred dollars or a decent percentage of the overall trip budget set aside in case of emergencies.

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?

Places that everyone has probably already heard about and no doubt made you plan a trip might have included fan favorites like the Vatican Museums, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Amalfi Coast, the Coliseum, Pompeii, Venice, Tuscany, the Cinque Terre, and the island of Capri. However, towns that are less popular with tourists such as Bologna, Siena, San Gimignano, Milan, Ravenna, Naples, Padua, and Lucca are all well worth a stop. Intriguing sites like the Castel de Monte near Bari and the geothermal waterfalls near Saturnia are likewise great places to spend some time.
Travelers to Rome should certainly check out less popular sites nearby such as the Villa d’Este, Herculaneum, and Ponza Island along with obligatory stops like the Coliseum and the Vatican Museums. Other places that travelers might want to investigate further include the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, the Lake Como area, the Ligurian coast, the Italian Alps (the Dolomites), and Sicily.

4) What is the best time of year to visit Italy?

The early spring and late fall are widely considered the best time of the year to stop by since they provide travelers with a good compromise when it comes to important factors like crowds, weather, and overall prices. During these months, most attractions aren’t operating at max capacity, hotels prices are reasonable, and the Italian weather tends to be reliably pleasant. Of course, as mentioned before, rain is likely at any time of the year so you’ll want to plan accordingly. Chilly evenings are certainly possible during the shoulder season and, as a result, these months might not be your best option if you’re looking to spend a lot of time at the beach.

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’s the best way to get from Rome to Venice and vice versa?

The train is probably your best bet. It’s not much more expensive than the bus but it’s a whole lot faster. In fact, it should save you several hours. There is even an overnight train that runs between the two cities. This could be a good way to maximize your time at both places and likely save some money, but you should probably only consider this option if you don’t mind arriving very early in the morning, can live without air conditioning, and are able to sleep on moving trains. Low-priced, direct flights between the two cities might be a viable option for some travelers. However, getting to the
airport and back from either place will take additional time and money so be sure to factor that into your calculations before making your choice – it all depends on your travel and comfort priorities.

6) 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.

7) What are Italy’s major airports?

The airports that international travelers will probably be arriving are the ones near major cities like Rome (FCO and CIA), Venice (VCE), and Milan (MXP, LIN, and BGY). Other important airports can be found near Bologna (BLQ), Naples (NAP), Pisa (PSA), and Bari (BRI). There are also ones at Palermo (PMO) and Catania (CIA) on the island of Sicily. Some these are very busy during the tourist season but are relatively quiet at other times of the year.

8) 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.

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