what to pack for italy

What To Pack for Italy

The most common questions we get from clients about to leave for Italy have to do with packing conundrums. From comfortable shoes to reliable adaptors, packing details seem to take up a lot of bandwidth in the final days before departure—which comes as no surprise, since our custom Italy travel planning services are so comprehensive that clients don’t have anything else to worry about!

That said, just about the only thing we can’t do for clients is pack their bags, so the closest we can get is compiling an A-to-Z guide to what to pack for Italy for a seamless trip, no matter what your itinerary and trip length.

Read on for trip-packing tips, essentials, and an Italy packing list for your next trip!

Italy Packing Tips

Prioritize comfort and versatility

There are a lot of variables when putting together what to pack for Italy, but the two most important features for anything that will eventually make it into your suitcase are comfort and versatility. 

Comfort because regardless of whether you are focusing on Italy’s historic cities, postcard-perfect countryside, or endless coastline, you will be doing a significant amount of walking. Forgiving shoes, loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t bind, and fabrics that both breathe and protect you from the elements are vital for long days of sightseeing and exploring. 

Versatility because packing as light as possible is key, especially if you are getting around by train or rental car and have to manage your bags on your own. You’ll want to pack pieces that can transition from sightseeing to dinner, can be layered to match the weather, and can be worn at least a few times before needing a wash.

That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style when choosing what to pack for Italy, of course. Contrary to popular belief, Italians do wear gym shoes (New Balance and Salomon are particularly popular) and street wear/leisure wear…but be sure all pieces are spotless and in mint condition. Neutral colors that you can mix and match are both versatile and give that trendy “quiet luxury” look that Italians are so adept at. And with just a few accessories, you can elevate your travel look without elevating your suitcase weight. 

Pack light

Even seasoned travelers end up bringing at least a few things they never wear or use on any trip, but you don’t want to be lugging around half a suitcase’s worth of impractical, uncomfortable, or unseasonal clothing. Remember that unless you are getting around exclusively with private drivers (costly, but worth the perks if you’re a heavy packer), you’ll have to be lugging your bags on and off trains and rental cars plus up and down stairs in many train stations, B&Bs, and even destinations like the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, and Venice. When discussing what to pack for Italy with clients, we suggest one medium rolling suitcase and one carry-on (travel backpack or tote) if you are getting around with public transportation. Two rolling suitcases can be too much to handle on your own, so one that you can roll and one that you can carry on your back or shoulder is the most agile way to get around. In addition, bring a cross-body bag for easy access to your documents, phone, and wallet. 

A good way to avoid overpacking is to lay out all of your outfit combinations in the days before you leave, so you have time to adjust and reconsider whether or not you’re REALLY going to wear that cute but uncomfortable dress or warm but bulky sweater. 

In the summer, leave your bulky jeans and other heavy pieces at home and opt for cotton and linen separates that pack both small and light. In winter, wear your bulkiest clothing on your travel days (your flights, train transfers, etc) to keep your bags light

Also keep in mind that Italy has fabulous shopping, from market stalls to designer boutiques. Err toward conservative packing and the worst thing that can happen is that you’re “forced” to shop for a few pieces of clothing while you travel.

Choose stylish but comfortable shoes

Blisters can make or break a day of sightseeing, so don’t risk it! There are so many options now for wearable shoes that don’t scream “tourist”, from trendy tennies (leather in the winter) to classic loafers to sleek Chelsea boots. All of these options are common and easy to spot in Italy, plus tick the boxes of comfort and versatility.

Sturdy sandals are fine for women (men do not tend to wear sandals in Italy) but no flip flops, which are both not good for walking nor acceptable footwear for any location outside the beach or pool in Italy.

If you want to pack heels, opt for wedge heels that are safer on cobblestones; in places like the Amalfi Coast and Capri, even Italian women don’t wear heels but opt for flat bedazzled evening sandals.

Opt for clothing you can layer

The two keys to versatility are neutral colors and layer-able pieces. 

When considering what to pack for Italy, choose a color palette and build your travel wardrobe around it so you can switch out any single element to pair it with another. Not only will this help you avoid getting bored with the same outfits every day, but it makes managing laundry a bit easier. If you get ragù on one shirt, you can simply toss that one in the laundry bag and swap in another top for the same pair of pants or skirt.

Pack separates that you can layer during your trip (or even during any specific day). Italy’s weather can be unpredictable, and the ability to add or lose layers to take on changes in temperature or unexpected showers is a huge advantage. This is especially true in the spring or fall, but you may find cooler evenings in summer and balmy afternoons in winter when layers are ideal. In addition, keep in mind that you must enter churches with shoulders, midriff, and knees covered in Italy, so a light shawl doubles as a modest coverup in the summer. 

Be sure to check the forecast in the days before you depart, and also average temperatures and precipitation for the destinations you’ll be visiting. This will help you calibrate what layering basics you may need and help you from under- or over-packing.

Don’t skip accessories

Make your neutral mix-and-match outfits less monotonous with fun accessories. Italians love to accessorize—from color-pop scarves to chic sunglasses—and these final touches are small and light, so easy to pack. 

Italy packing list

Italy Packing List


What to pack for Italy by season:

Please see our specific packing guides for:

tips for packing for Italy

What to Pack for Italy: Italy Packing List for Women (One Week)

What to Pack for Italy: Italy Packing List for Men (One Week)


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