Creating a packing list for Italy can be a daunting task.
Over 1000 Km long, and with a huge variety of places to see, Italy has a varied climate ranging from high mountains, to coastal areas and urban centers.
It knows 4 different seasons, it requires the visitors to do a lot of walking and it is known for being one of the most stylish countries in the world, meaning you usually want to wear something nicer than tracksuits bottoms and sneakers.
Last but not last, Italy ha many religious sites requiring a specific dress code!
All this makes deciding what to pack for Italy the perfect packing storm. However, help is at hand!
I have packed for Italy more times than I can remember (I go there about 5 times a year) and since I grew up in Italy, I know exactly what Italian style is and what to wear in Italy to feel you belong.
In this packing list for Italy, I am going to share all the must have items you will want to have on you when visiting Italy.
I will share info on Italian weather and style that will help you decide what to pack for Italy and what to leave home.
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Packing for Italy: the weather in each season
Considering how varied Italy is, the first consideration when making a packing list for Italy is where you are going and in what season.
Italy in spring – the most popular and one of the most pleasant times for visiting Italy, the spring in il Bel Paese usually brings bright days, blues sky and the occasional bout of rain.
Packing for Italy in spring calls for layers: at this time, you are most likely to find yourself in short sleeves in the middle of the day and reach out for a jacket (sometimes even a coat) in the evening.
Italy in summer – Italy in summer is sunny and hot. If you are going to the Dolomites or the Alps in general, you are going to have cooler climates that will require light cardigans and windbreakers while in the rest of the country you will need light summer clothing and possibly beachwear (our top picks for a beach vacation are here)
Italy in autumn – Italy in autumn is a delight but what weather you actually experience here depends largely on where in Italy you are going.
In general, the end of September and the beginning of October are still reasonably warm, requiring a light cardigan or jacket at most. As you step into November you may want to be more covered up and bring a coat.
The North gets cold and grey before the South and it is not unheard of to have people with jackets in Milan and people on the beach in Sicily. If visiting in this season, checking he local weather is paramount
Italy in winter – Italy in winter gets surprisingly cold and this leaves many visitors unprepared. At this time, you want to have a proper winter coat, ideally waterproof, scarf glove hat and proper walking winter shoes.
As a general rule, winter in the North is colder than in Sicily but don’t let this fool you not thinking the south of Italy has perennial summer: everywhere in Italy gets cold in winter!
Top things to pack for Italy in any season
Season specific items aside (see below for those), these are your essentials for Italy.
Rules about documents necessary to travel to Italy vary depending on your country of origin and you can check requirements here.
Before leaving, make sure you have them all in good standing and make a copy of each, so you can quickly retrieve them should the originals get lost, stolen or damaged on the road.
Cash and credit cards
I highly recommend you bring both credit cards and cash to Italy, cash being useful for smaller transactions and tips.
Make sure you tell your bank before leaving to make sure your credit card is accepted in Europe and so it doesn’t get blocked when operating from a new location
You don’t need specific medications for Italy (water and food are safe) but do bring any prescription medications you may need and make sure you get a translated copy of your prescription for the pharmacist, should you need to top up on the road
Good walking shoes
In Italy you will walk a lot and you want your feet to be comfortable and, why not, look cute!
Church appropriate outfits
Visiting churches in Italy requires being dressed a certain way and this might differ from what it acceptable back home.
As a general rule, in churches in Italy you want to cover knees and shoulders. You can read more info especially about the dress code for the Vatican here.
The most useful type of bag in Italy and when traveling in general. Chose one that is not to big too weight you down but that can comfortably hold all you need during the day. You can find a selection of my favorite cross body purses here.
Tech, charger, travel adapter
I am very easy going when it comes to technology: I only bring my phone that doubles up as my camera and map reading device.
Make sure you bring its charger, a travel adapter for Italy and and an extra power bank to recharge it on the go.
If you want your tech to be kinder on the environment, check some of our top eco-friendly choices here
You don’t need to speak Italian to enjoy Italy but a little of Italian goes a long way. A pocket Italian phrasebook and dictionary will help you cover all the basics
Reusable water bottle
Italy, especially Rome, has lovely water and it is free! Bring your own bottle to make the most of it and help the environment: Italy has some bad garbage problems and everything we can keep and reuse, goes a long way to help
I am a fan of light packing but also of looking good on travel photos!
I do that stocking up on cute sunglasses, colorful scarves and necklaces, which can dress any outfit up and down and immediately give that ‘together’ look tourists often lack
Detailed Italy packing list
Travel documents and money
When it comes to documents and essentials, check you have with you
- Passport for each traveler
- Travel insurance
- Child birth certificate / guardianship document (if traveling alone with a minor / if relevant)
- Driving licence / international driving permit if planning on driving
- Copy of documents
- Print out of booking confirmations and ticket attractions (many will not accept electronic tickets)
- Credit card
Luggage and bags
You don’t need special luggage to go to Italy but its cobbled street can be hard on cheap wheeled bags so in this case, quality is paramount.
When packing, I recommend you bring:
- Main bag, may it be with wheels or a backpack (checked or carry on)
- Cross body bag for daily essentials
- Small rucksack for men: make sure it is small enough to enter museums – anything bulky will have to be left at the cloakroom available or you may be refused entrance
- Money belt – make is small and easy to hide like this one so you don’t stand out as a tourist
- Packing cubes
- Toiletry bag
Clothes – Italian style tips to look like a local
Italians are known to be very stylish. To dress like and Italian and not stand out as a tourist the easiest way is to think of a smart casual dress code.
Some easy tips to make sure you match this style:
- Choose well fitting clothes in neutral colors such as black, grey, cream.
- Opt for good quality materials, ideally with a tailored look. Long sleeve shirts and polo shirts are common and so are tailored trousers (for men and women)
- Avoid running shoes and opt for fashion sneakers instead
- Choose sun hats other than baseball caps
- Avoid shorts (men and women)
- Leave flip flops for the beach and opt for good quality sandals instead
- Choose a slightly more conservative look, avoiding excessively revealing clothing especially in cities (beachwear is Ok on the coast)
Italy packing list essentials
- All your basics (all seasons) – goes without saying but these are the things we all often leave behind! Bring underwear, socks, nightwear etc but leave some room in tour bag for the lovely Italian stuff you will want to buy Italy does undergarments exceptionally well
- Long sleeve tops (all seasons, except summer)
- Short sleeve tops (all seasons, in winter you’ll use them for layering)
- Warm Jumpers and sweaters (all seasons except summer)
- Light sweater (spring and summer on the coast)
- Tights (all seasons except summer and possibly late spring)
- Skirts / dresses Opt for knee length of below to visit churches
- Trousers and / or jeans
- Winter coat, gloves, hat, scarf (winter)
- Mid season jacket (autumn and spring)
- Light shawl (all seasons)
- Walking shoes
Shoes packing list for Italy
When packing for Italy picking the right shoes is paramount. Depending on the seasons, you may want to pack:
Ankle boots – ideally with rubber sole, for stylish yet comfortable walking in winter and cold days
Ballerina flats – with cushioned soles for spring and autumn
Walking sandals – with rubber sole and cushioned step for summer
Fashion sneakers – don’t believe the web and those who tell you Italians don’t wear sneakers! We do, we just don’t use running ones in the city, we opt for fashion sneakers like Superga, converse or new balance instead
Flip flops – for the beach
Wedges / moccasins (woman / men)– for a nice night out without running the risk of hurting your ankles on cobbled streets
Italy packing list for specific destinations
Depending where in Italy you are going, you may also want to pack something more.
Italy packing list for Amalfi coast, Capri or Tuscan Riviera – if you are going to one of the chic-est parts of Italy, you may want to look the part.
This can be part of the fun! For these destinations, opt for big diva sunglasses, larger sunhat, Capri pants and cute sandals. Polo necks, shirts and skip on shoes for men.
Italy packing list for Rome, Milan and the main cities – In the main cities, the main thing you want to avoid is to look like a tourist and be inappropriate for churches.
To do so, avoid shorts and heavy runners and keep knees and shoulders covered for churches. Opt for a cross-body bag rather than a rucksack and avoid fanny packs.
Italy packing list for Cinque Terre – Cinque Terre recently introduced a fine for people tackling their hiking trails in inappropriate footwear and while this may seem excessive, those trails do require proper shoes.
If planning on hiking, make sure you have good walking shoes for hiking terrains. You do not need them should you only want to stay in the villages
Italy packing list for the beach – if going to the beach, make sure you bring swimsuits, sundresses and flip flops.
Many establishments will require you to wear a sundress on top of your swimsuit for instance to go for lunch, make sure you are prepared.
Italy packing list for the Dolomites and the Alps – if going to the mountains, you will need specific gear depending on the season and your plans for the holiday.
In summer, you will need hiking gear and shoes while in winter you will need your ski gear
Useful technology you may want to pack for Italy
Accessories and nice to have
Toiletries and make up
- Body wash and moisturizer
- Face wash and moisturizer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Razor and shaving essentials
- Feminine hygiene products
- Sun cream / after sun
- Make up
- Make up removing wipes
- Nail clipper
First aid kit and medications
- Plasters, blister plasters and bandages
- Skin disinfecting wipes
- Burn remedy
- Insect repellent
- After bite ointment
- Anti histamine cream
- Motion sickness medication
- Pain killers (paracetamol etc)
- Re-hydrating salts
- Prescription medications
- Medical gloves
Packing list for Italy with baby and toddlers
- Baby carrier
- Travel stroller (find great ones for Italy here)
- Diaper Bag (find my picks here)
- Nappy cream and baby changing essentials
- Travel high chair (good portable ones are here)
- Travel bed for baby (some nice options here)
- Water shoes for beach / lakes / pools
- Car seat or booster seat for car journeys
I hope you found this Italy packing list useful/ safe travels!
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