What to Pack for Italy in Summer
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Italy is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations in Europe, and for good reason. Even though it can get scorching hot there’s something about gelatos and Vespas and pizza that make it a magical travel destination.
Italian women have earned a reputation for looking well put together. No matter the weather you can count on them to step out the door looking effortlessly presentable. It is no secret that Italians like the idea of “la bella figura” which literally translates to “the beautiful figure.” It specifically means to dress well to make a good impression. You don’t need to be fancy, but some effort is required.
Follow my 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing method to avoid overpacking. Whether you’re travelling for one week or four you can build the perfect Italian capsule wardrobe. The general key is five tops, four bottoms, three dresses, three shoes, two bags, two jackets. Feel free to play around with these ratios.
It’s often one of my goals to dress like locals and not stand out as a tourist. So it’s with this in mind that I put together my capsule wardrobe for Italy in summer. Whether you’re visiting Rome, Venice, Positano, or Florence you’ll be comfortable and stylish.
Italy Packing Essentials
In general, you’ll want lightweight summer dresses, something modest (covered shoulders and knees) for religious sites, versatile basics, and swimwear. If you have that covered the rest is a bonus.
You may think dresses are too formal but they’re a favourite travel packing hack of mine. Just one item and you’re ready to go. Plus, you can dress them up or down depending on your activity. Throw on sneakers and a ball cap and you’re ready for the day. Swap out your jewellery, put on some heels, and a classic red lip and you’re ready for a glass of wine and an aperitivo.
Something to Cover Your Shoulders and Knees
If you plan on visiting religious sites like cathedrals or churches while in Italy it’s best to pack something that covers your shoulders and knees. A lightweight scarf over a midi-dress will work or a linen shirt with some wide-legged cropped pants are great options. While a dress code isn’t strictly enforced in many of these places, it’s a sign of respect even if you aren’t religious yourself. The Vatican is one place that will require covered shoulders and knees. If you enter the Sistine Chapel with your shoulders exposed, you will be forced by the Chapel guards to wear a pretty sad-looking disposable cover-up that looks a bit like a hospital gown. Best to plan ahead and avoid that fashion disaster.
I love wearing an oversized button up shirt as a beach cover-up. When an item of clothing can be worn multiple ways it earns a spot in my suitcase. To keep your swimwear looking more upscale, go with solids. Texture is big this year so look for ribbed material. A wide-brimmed straw hat and great sunnies are an absolute must. Pair is with a woven tote for a complete look whether you’re boating on Lake Como or boating the Amalfi Coast.
I normally advocate for just three pairs of shoes on my travel packing guides but I just couldn’t help myself on this one. Besides sneakers for long walks in cities and a classic flat sandal for small town exploring I’ve included a pair of low heeled sandals for evening wear and a pair of white EVA Birkenstocks for beaches and boats. Leave the cheap flip flops at home. That’s a rookie tourist move. These four pairs should cover any event you’ll encounter on your summer vacation in Italy.
Bonuses to Beat the Heat
It’s no secret it gets hot in Italy in the summer months. To beat the heat, pack a few of these extras in your day bag:
- Mega Babe Thigh Rescue
- Blotting sheets
- Water bottle (freeze it overnight if you can and it will stay colder longer into the day as it melts)
- A folding fan
- Cooling face mist
- Small cooling towel
- Claw clip for getting hair off your neck