What to wear in Italy in winter? What will the weather be like and what type of jacket do I need? In this post I share my packing list for Italy in winter and expert tips on what to wear in Italy in the winter months, to feel comfortable and stylish.
Deciding what to wear in Italy in winter is often less straightforward than people realize. Italy is know for being blessed by Mediterranean weather and, in general, sees winters that are less harsh than in many other parts of the world.
However, Italy stretches North to South and has cities, mountains and islands, each with distinctive weather.
Packing for Italy in winter needs to take into account these differences and may require versatile clothing to feel comfortable in several situations.
In this post, I share my tips to be ready, comfortable and cute when packing for Italy in winter.
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What to wear in Italy in winter: what to expect
You cannot really talk about winter in Italy without specifying where in Italy we are talking about.
The difference between the temperatures in the North and in the South are significant at this time of the year and if you are planning a trip to the mountains you need special gear for snow.
This is an overview of what to expect.
Mountains: if you are visiting the mountains, especially the Italian Alps, you need to pack for snow and cold temperatures. While the exact conditions change every year and from one locality to the other, on mountains you will need a warm waterproof jacket, warm comfortable shoes, thermal underlays as a bare minimum and full on ski gear if hitting the slopes.
Cities: Between cities in the North and South there can be a considerable difference in temperature. On winter days it can be snowing in Milan (a few degrees below zero, have a look at Milan weather here), well above zero in Rome and properly pleasant in Palermo.
Weather is also very temperamental in individual locations: to our surprise, Taormina in March saw very cold days followed but very summery ones.
Another thing to keep into account when packing for Italy is that the temperature will change significantly between October and February.
In most of Italy October, especially the first part of the month, is still mild and pleasant. In this month you are still able to wear a mid season jacket and while you will not find yourselves in short sleeves in most places, you may find yourself taking a jacket off in the warmest hours of the day.
From mid-November onward things change. November is the first winter month and temperatures drop significantly between then and late February when spring starts filling the air again with milder days and flowers.
What to wear in Italy in October – February: essentials
Layers and versatile clothing are key when packing for a trip to Italy in winter. These are my essentials:
- Warm waterproof winter jacket
- Scarf, hat, gloves
- Short and long sleeve tops for layering
- Warmer jumper
- Long trousers / skirts and winter tights
- Travel adapter for Italy
- Phone charger and charging dock
- Reusable water bottle
- Snow gear if going to sky stations
- Comfortable walking shoes: have a look at our top picks here
Packing list for Italy in winter: my must haves
When planning what to wear in Italy in winter, weather appropriate gear is essentials and it is always wise to bring one extra layer rather than one too few. Many localities in Italy are very humid and this means even temperatures that read as mild on the thermometer may feel properly unpleasant when it comes to real feel.
These are some of my winter must haves for Italy.
Good walking shoes
Good shoes are essential on any trip, but it is important to have the right ones especially in Italy, where you are sure to be doing a lot of walking.
The best shoes to tackle Italy’s medieval cobbled streets are shoes with good rubber soles and water resistant. These are best equipped to protect your feel and ankle from otherwise potentially unpleasant hard stepping.
Italian women are fond of boots for winter, both ankle and full length. If you have a pair of versatile ones you can use for walking and for dinner attire, they might be among the best things you can pack for Italy in winter.
A warm, waterproof jacket
If you are unsure whether to pack your lighter or warmer coat for Italy in winter, go for the warm one! As mentioned above, even cities with mild temperatures can be very humid during the winter months and this is often unexpected.
Rome is notorious to catch people unaware: her sunny December skyes are deceiving and cold can be biting.
Rain is frequent in Italy in the winter as well so while it may be tempting to wear your best coat for style, I suggest you go for a waterproof one instead.
I am personally fond of the Patagonia parkas which are on the warmer side for Italy but super versatile and amazing in the rain.
Scarf and hat
Again, something that may sound overkill for Italy but items you will be happy yo have with you while strolling around the gorgeous Florence city centre or the Roman forum in winter.
Italian women in particular love scarves and mix woolen, large ones with lighter scarves that add warms and colour to their outfits.
A crossbody bag
I love backpacks but I always feel they make me look like a tourist! So, to fit in, I recommend a fashionable crossbody bag.
They are easy to carry, safe against pick pockets and there are so many options to choose from you are sure to find one to suit your taste and style.
Italians have a love affair with sunglasses and won’t part from them no matter the season. Aside from fashion, a pair of sunglasses is always in my purse to visit Italy as light can be very strong even in the middle of winter.
A small umbrella
Umbrellas are handy to have in Italy in winter since the rain usually does not come with strong wind. My favourite ones are the small super-light ones that fit in your bag.
A small dictionary or Italian phrase book
In Italy, especially in the most popular tourist destination, you will find people with at least a basic understanding of English but this is not the case in all establishments and some familiarity with Italian can be handy.
Even just a book you can show them with the sentence you’d like to say will be a lifesaver. A good Italian phrasebook can go a long way.
The lovely thing about Italy is that we usually speak terrible English so we do appreciate when we see a foreigner making an effort as we know how hard it is to make yourself understood!
The fastest way to feel like an Italian is to embellish your look with colourful necklaces. Italian women are fond of them and I am myself partial to them.
They dress up even a simple outfit adding colour and texture, they are cheap and they pack light, basically the best friend of the stylish traveller. In winter, favour bigger ones that can act as a decoration on polo necks or wear small golden or silver chains to peek out from larger, fluffier necks.
Slippers / House socks
I don’t usually look at slippers as a travel essential unless I am going to Italy in the winter!
Carpet is not very common in Italy and floor of rental apartments are often tiled which means that are wonderful but very cold.
A pair of slippers or even just thick indoor socks can go a long way to keep you cozy after sightseeing.
I do not recommend carrying around large sums of cash when travelling anywhere but in Italy, it is handy to have some on you in small notes (smaller than 50).
While credit cards are widely accepted in hotels and restaurants, this is not the case in many smaller establishments and they are not usually accepted for small purchases. If you are worried about carrying any cash, it may be worth investing in a safety belt where you can also hide your passport: please be advised that on Italy it is compulsory to have documentation on you at all times.
I hope I answered your questions about what to wear in Italy in winter! Safe travels!
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