What to wear in Italy in summer: packing list and style guide

What to wear in Italy in summer? What will the weather be like, can I wear shorts? In this post I share my expert tips on what to pack for Italy summer, must have gear when packing for Italy and style tips to feel comfortable and stylish while travelling in ItalyUpdated 2020

Deciding what to wear in Italy in summer is often less straightforward than people realise.

First, Italy has cities, beaches and mountains, each requiring slightly different gear for type of holiday and weather patterns.

Secondly, some locations in Italy require a specific dress code, which you need to be aware of to avoid embarrassment or disappointment.

The Vatican is well known for being one of these locations (you can read about the specific dress code here), but similar rules apply to most churches.

In this post, I share my tips to be ready, comfortable and cute when packing for Italy in summer.

Do you have the right luggage for your trip? We have a guide to the best luggage for Italy here!

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What to wear in Italy in summer: overview

Italy is blessed by gorgeous Mediterranean weather and overall, you can expect summers to be sunny, dry and hot.

In general, summer in Italy sees average temperatures in  the high 20 degrees Celsius with some cities and the hottest hours of the day often climbing up to a feel of almost 40.

However, Italy spans for a significant length North to South and has several micro climates, so it is worth being prepared for different locations.

Mountains: if you are visiting the mountains, especially the Italian Alps, you will encounter significantly lower temperatures that in cities or the South.

If visiting this area, pack for layers and be prepared for the occasional rain shower, especially in the second half of the day and evening.

If planning on hiking, gear up with proper boots and appropriate technical gear.

The islands If visiting Italian islands, make sure you are ready for high temperatures and moderate winds.

Pack sunscreen, sun hats and maxi dresses to protect yourself from the heat and don’t let the nice breeze catch you unprepared: the sun is scorching!

If planning on city sightseeing, make sure you include items to cover up legs and shoulders for church visits.

Most smaller churches will not demand you to cover up but some of the bigger ones or those that are manned may take exception to shorts and tank tops and ask you to leave.

The rules are very strict in the Vatican when a full on dress code is enforced and less so in smaller churches, where a shawl around your waste to cover you up to the knees is usually enough. 

You can read details info about what to wear in Rome in summer here

Trying to decide what to pack for Italy? We can help! In this guide we share practical and style tips on what to wear in Italy in summer to be comfortable, stylish and appropriate when visiting religious sites

What to wear in Italy in June, July, August

I adore visiting Italy in summer because despite the sometimes excessive heat it is the time when you can have fun with summer clothes and accessories. My must have packing list for Italy in summer includes:

  • Sandals
  • Not too short skirts
  • Maxi dress
  • Long summery skirt
  • Shorts (not to be worn when visiting the Vatican or Rome churches)
  • Linen/cotton trousers
  • Short sleeve tops
  • Strappy tops  (not to be worn when visiting the Vatican or Rome churches)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sun screen
  • Bottle (for water)
  • Underwear/Pajama etc
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip Flops
  • Watershoes for the kids (you can find a selection here)

Packing list for Italy in summer: 10 must haves

When planning what to wear in Italy in summer, don’t forget your less glamorous but must have travel essentials!

Good walking shoes/sandals

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 and sandals with good rubber soles: these are best equipped to protect your feel and ankle from otherwise potentially unpleasant hard stepping.

You can find a selection of our favourite shoes for Italy here 

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.

For summer, I like light coloured ones made of breathable material so you don’t sweat under their weight.

You can find a selection of my favorite cross body bags for travel here

Sunglasses

Italians have a love affair with sunglasses and in summer they are more than just a fashion statement.

The sun in Italy is strong in summer and you need good quality sunglasses to protect your eyes pretty much no matter where you are, may it be a city, the sea or the mountains.

A wrap/shawl for visiting churches

As I mentioned above, some churches in Italy require you to abide their dress code to allow you in.

This is the case in the Vatican, which has strict rules that are always implemented, but can be the case in smaller churches too, where checks are more sporadic.

As a general rule, when entering a church or sacred space you should avoid showing too much of your legs (no short shorts, or micro skirts), shoulder or cleavage.

In Italy, I always carry a shawl in my bag to be prepared in case I stumble upon a church I want to explore while dressed for the heat.

A sun hat

Sun is relentless in Italy in summer and you need a sunhat for going sightseeing.

Locals do not tend to wear sunhats but this is one of those cases when looking like a local is less important than staying safe: sunstroke is frequent among visitors to Italy so please be careful!

I am overly fond of large hats that shade your eyes and face as well as the top if your head.

They look really fun and stylish and go well with the Italian fascination for accessories: we are an accessory crazy country!

A maxi dress or maxi skirt

Maxi dresses and maxi skirts are amongn my favourite must have items for Italy in summer.

They are easily fashionable, they are church appropriate and they can go day to night easily, making packing light a breeze.

My favourite ones are of natural materials and are flowy and light, to allow the breeze to keep you cool.

Make sure you pick one for your shape for the most flattering look.

Swimwear

Italy has over 7000 KM of coastline, most of it easily accessible, therefore packing swimwear is definitely a good idea!

You can find many styles available in local shops in Italy, but sizes are often tricky (my friends always complaint Italian sizes fits to small and they need to buy 2 sizes up for it it fit!) so I always recommend to bring at least one swimsuit you are sure will suit your shape.

I always stock up on new swimwear before I go, just to be sure, and love checking out styles and colours like those  here, suitable for all shapes.

Wet bags

I started packing wet bags like these when my kids arrived and now I am hooked!

I absolutely love them and they are a life saver if you find yourself stuck with a wet swimsuit just at the time when you need to pack

A small dictionary or Italian phrase book

In Rome, especially in the city centre, 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.

Mosquito repellent

Italy in summer is full of mosquitoes and they are a pain.

The special type you have in Italy is active day and night and while usually not dangerous as such, their bites are really itchy and make create swollen, sore bumps.

Usually you do not need DEET strength repellents and natural repellents tend to work well.

In Italy, you find them in big supermarkets and pharmacies but please note that English is not necessarily spoken so if you have allergies or special products you are used to, it is safer to pack them from home.

Colourful necklaces

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!

I hope I answered your questions about what to wear in Italy in summer! Safe travels!

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