It’s time to get hold of my packing list and get the bags ready for my spring trip to Italy!
Or rather, this time last week was the time to get hold of my packing list for Italy… Now it’s time for me to unpack. I am just back from a great week in Rome and I am currently taken by the very ‘interesting’ task of sorting out my stuff: what goes in the laundry? What did I actually wear? Do the things I bought there still look as good as they did in the shop?
You know yourself: a soul destroying exercise that seems made to remind you that your holiday is over.
Still, while my stuff lies piled up in my room, I decided to make use of this moment and write a post about packing. I think this is the best moment to do it, because as well as providing me with an excuse (‘I can’t unpack now, I am working at my blog!’), this is the moment when I have very clear ideas on what I used/didn’t use during my week in Rome, which I hope can make for good advice for everyone else. Or even for my next trip.
I have always been a light packer and this time my skills were really put to the test: I was travelling alone with two kids, the weather in Rome was described as ‘changeable’ and I was only bringing my carry on. This is how I went about it.
DISCLAIMER: This is inevitably a personal packing list, but I’d love to make it useful for everybody so please leave a comment with your advice and I’ll be happy to make a new, collaborative list!
The packing list
For me, the first rule about light packing is versatility and few things are as versatile as a good pair of jeans. A good quality, clean, well fitted pair jeans to be precise.
Italians have a real love affair with jeans and a good pair will go a long way, being out of place only in obviously dressy situations like the opera, a ceremony or a really posh restaurant. In most other occasions jeans are perfectly acceptable: just make sure, as I said before, that they fit well, are not ripped (unless you go for that look but then versatility is gone) and they are paired up with a nice top and some nice shoes.
This time I brought:
- two pairs of skinny jeans, in two different colours If you don’t wear jeans, nice trousers will also do
- A selection of tops, in different but complementary colours, both short and long sleeved. Probably an obvious point, but I find the best way to dress in spring in with layers. If you bring a good selection of tops that go together, you can mix and match and have different looks without having to carry all of your wardrobe. I usually bring one top per day up t a maximum of 7: if I stay longer, I just do laundry
I always make sure to include at least one top who can bring me from day to night. I always notice that in Italy people show a little less skin than in many other countries (surely much less than if you go out in in Ireland) so my rule of thumb for something versatile is to choose a nice top for the day that I can dress up with accessories for the night.
- A little black dress, to dress up or down with accessories
- A light jacket or a trench. I know Rome is warm in spring if compared with many other places, but Italians seem to disagree (I sure do) and so you’ll see most people sporting some form of spring jackets even in mild temperatures. I do genuinely think it is worth bringing some form of jacket with you: especially in the evening, the temperatures in spring can drop. I brought with me a light leather jacket and wore it… pretty much non stop.
- The same goes for a light jumper. I wore one to travel and had two in the bag.
- Scarves. Scarves are maybe the one thing Italians love more than jeans. Both men and women use them extensively to keep warm and as a fashion accessory. Also, if you are a woman scarves can come in handy when visiting churches as you can wrap them around your shoulders and disguise your strappy top. This time, I brought 3 scarves with me: a wholly one and two lighter, colourful ones.
- Shoes: always the most space-consuming thing of all but one that in Italy can make or break an outfit. This time, I brought a pair of comfortable shoes for walking that I wore when travelling and a pair of heels. Italians are funny about fashion: they will not necessarily turn you away from a restaurant or a bar if you’re wearing runners, but you are likely to feel out of place, so depending on your level of comfort with that and the space in your luggage, the extra pair could be worth the effort.
- Sunglasses. Do I need to elaborate on the fact that Italians are obsessed with sunglasses and wear them pretty much even in the dark? I personally do not wear shades extensively and find ridiculous who wears them in the evening or on an obviously dark day, but they are useful in the sun I and definitely brought one pair with me, which did help especially in the bright midday Roman light.
- Necklaces: this is something that might sound funny when trying to pack only essentials, but necklaces can change up a look and are a good way to make a simple outfit look dressier for a nigh out.
So, this is it, my packing list!
As well as the above of course I had my basics, my travel documents, a swimsuit and flip flops (I always bring both as they don’t take up space and may come in handy) and a lightweight towel. Oh, and two smaller bags with kids clothes, crackers and toys that I put my 4 year old in charge of!
And yes, we survived and even had space in the bag to bring back some nice new purchases.
How do YOU pack when travelling? Is there any item that you always bring and you consider a life saver?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
For additional ideas on what to pack for Rome, you might want to have a look at my previous post about packing, which you can find here