How to pack for Italy: Italy travel planning

How to Pack for Italy: A Comprehensive Guide to Packing for Italy in 2023

Are you travelling to Italy in 2023?

Make sure you’re ready to pack with my essential guide!

Whether it’s the perfect Italian dress, the ultimate Italy packing list, or what you must leave behind, this guide has you covered.

With the right items, you are guaranteed an unforgettable Italian experience!

If you need help with planning your trip, join the free Italia Like A Local group on Facebook for advice and top tips, or browse my selection of guides like my Trip Planning Guide or Best Tips for Visiting Italy.

How to pack for Italy

Italy is a captivating country, adorned with a plethora of picturesque cities and charming villages eagerly awaiting exploration.

However, before you begin your adventure, you must prepare properly and pack your bag accordingly.

Given the diverse landscapes, temperatures vary between the northern and southern regions, thereby bringing forth contrasting weather conditions from one place to another.

For this reason, it’s important to bring clothing suitable for the weather and your chosen destination.

For example, if you’re visiting the city in the summer months, be sure to pack light, airy clothing.

Another point to consider is the culture and customs of Italy.

Italy is a country that follows fashion, so it’s worth packing smart clothes for evening outings.

And don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes, as you’ll probably be walking a lot.

All in all, packing for Italy in 2023 doesn’t have to be stressful.

Don’t forget to pack according to time, culture, and planned activities.

Essential Documents for Travelling to Italy

How to pack for Italy: Check Passport and Visa

Of course, you need to get set with all the necessary documents before you hit the road. 

The last thing you want is to face trouble or be denied entry to the airport due to insufficient documents.

A valid passport with at least 6 months left until expiration is a must; remember to photocopy it and keep one copy with you while leaving another at home with a trusted friend or family member.

Then, depending on your nationality, you should also check if you need a  Visa to enter Italy.

Starting in 2024, you’ll most likely need to apply for an ETIAS permit to travel to Italy.

This new rule also applies to those who can now travel to Italy without a visa, such as U.S. citizens, who will also be required to apply for the new electronic authorization. Fear not, you can apply online in minutes.

To make sure if you need to apply for a visa and what documents are required, check out the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, answer a couple of questions and instantly get all the information you need.

More than ever, I strongly recommend that you consider getting travel insurance.

Besides covering the costs of cancellations and theft, the main reason to insure your trip to Italy is for financial protection in the event of a medical emergency or the need  to repatriate after an accident or illness.

Get a quick quote by visiting Visitor Coverage, which offers a number of specialized cover products for travelers.

Furthermore, double up on credit cards – bring one credit card as a backup and put it in your hotel safe, while bringing an extra one (if possible) for ATM withdrawal.

Make sure to call your bank before you leave to ensure that they know of your travels so that there are no purchasing hassles later on during your trip. And, if you plan to  drive  in Italy, you will need an International Driving Permit, which can be obtained from your local car company.

Remember to bring all necessary medical documents, such as prescriptions or proof of vaccinations.

Choosing the Right Luggage for Italy

Whether you’re travelling to Italy for a short city break or a longer holiday, choosing the right luggage is essential. 

You’ve got two choices: either take just a carry-on bag or go with a checked medium-sized suitcase.

A big suitcase may give you more space to get you covered with the bases or for having some extra room to bring some Italian goodies back home, but it can be a real nightmare dragging it around with you.

Instead, opt for a carry-on sized bag that’s lightweight and easy to lift and wheel on your own.

This will save you time and energy when navigating between airports and train stations as well as through busy streets!

And remember that you can always buy another luggage on your return journey if necessary.

Packing light is also important; try capsule packing or rolling your clothes to maximize space and make sure everything fits in one bag – trust me, I learnt from experience on my trips!

And, when it comes to carrying your essentials, you may consider a “hands-free” option.

This can be achieved with either a shoulder-worn crossbody or backpack. Both options have their own benefits and drawbacks which you must keep in mind while choosing.

Moving on, here is a comparison table for your ease of understanding:

Cross-body bagBackpack
Carrying CapacityMedium – SmallMedium – Large
ComfortabilityUneven weight distribution, can strain shoulders and back after prolonged use.Even weight distribution, doesn’t put as much strain on shoulders or back even with long use.
AccessibilityEasy access only to the main compartment and immediate items like phone/wallet. Takes time to retrieve items found deeper inside the bag.Easy access to all compartments and takes less time to retrieve items because of more zoning options available.

Clothing and footwear for every season

When packing for Italy, consider the weather and pack accordingly. 

Italy has different temperatures throughout the year, from hot summers to cold winters.

To ensure comfort and style, you must bring proper clothing and shoes for each season.

Light and airy fabrics like cotton and linen are great for the warmer months.

Layers are essential during the colder months.

They are a great option, as they help to keep you warm and allow for easy removal when indoors or if the temperature suddenly rises.

Waterproof boots or shoes are also useful during the rainy season.

Whatever time of year you visit Italy, dressing appropriately will allow you to fully enjoy all the country’s attractions without feeling unsafe or unprepared.

Don’t forget to pack comfortable walking shoes, as exploring Italy’s beautiful towns and villages often involves long walks.

Footwear Recommendations for Italian Streets

Comfortable footwear is essential when exploring Italy’s cities and cobblestone streets.

For women, a pair of comfortable but stylish flats or sandals with cushioning is a must.

It’s also a good idea to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes for longer days of sightseeing.

If heading out in the evening, pick a sophisticated pair that will fit perfectly with your look – flats, low heels or sandals are great options.

For men, a pair of comfortable but stylish shoes or sneakers is recommended.

Flip flops or thongs can be ideal at home base when you need something comfortable and light for the beach or hotel.

How to pack for Italy

Here are some essential tips to help you pack effectively for your exciting trip to Italy.

Consider the days you’ll be staying in Italy, the places you’ll be visiting, and the activities you have planned or are planning to do on your trip.

This will help you create a well-rounded wardrobe capsule that perfectly suits your ideal vacation.

For a one-week vacation, consider bringing:

Tops: Bring four versatile tops that can be easily mixed and matched with your bottoms. This will give you plenty of outfit options throughout your trip.

Bottoms: Pack three bottom pieces, such as shorts, skirts, or trousers, that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and your personal style.

Dresses: Include two dresses in your suitcase, perfect for those lovely afternoon jaunts or evening outings. Choose styles that make you feel comfortable and confident.

Undergarments: Don’t forget to pack seven sets of undergarments to keep you feeling fresh and comfortable throughout your trip.

Shoes: Two pairs of shoes should be sufficient for your Italian adventure. Opt for stylish yet comfortable footwear like loafers or block-heeled sandals to effortlessly explore the beautiful streets of Italy.

Accessories: Complete your outfits with a few carefully selected accessories.

Choose pieces that can be easily mixed and matched, such as statement necklaces, scarves, or sunglasses.

Remember to keep the color palette neutral and consider adding up to two similar colors to add some variety to your looks.

How to pack for Italy: Summer

Now that you have an idea of the essentials, let’s talk about the crucial garments that will make your Italian summer sojourn even more delightful:

A refined pair of trousers or a midi skirt: These versatile pieces will help you create elegant and sophisticated outfits for both daytime and evening events.

One or two summer dresses: These breezy dresses will be perfect for your afternoon adventures, allowing you to stay stylish and comfortable in the Italian heat.

A tailored blazer or light sweater: Bring a blazer or light sweater that can be easily layered over your tops or dresses when the temperature cools down in the evening or when visiting religious sites that require modest attire.

A scarf or shawl: This will come in handy for any occasion, a stylish addition to your outfit, or a cover-up for religious sites.

1-2 pairs of shorts: if you’re planning to go hiking or visiting the beach.

Lightweight, breathable fabrics: Choose garments made from lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or silk.

These materials will keep you cool and comfortable as you explore the picturesque Italian cities.

Don’t forget to pack 1-2 swimsuits: Having an extra swimsuit allows you to wear one while the other dries from your previous swim.

For beach vacations in Italy, flip-flops are a must.

They’re essential for comfortable strolls along the sandy shores.

Additionally, if you’re planning to visit rocky beaches or engage in cliff-jumping activities, consider packing water shoes for better traction.

I recommend durable Havaianas flip-flops and Teva water sandals for men and women, as they can be used at the beach or for short hikes.

Sunscreen is a necessity. While you can find it readily available at beach stalls, supermarkets, and stores, it’s often challenging to find a sun protection that suits your needs. So make sure to pack your preferred sunscreen for optimal skin care.

If you plan on boating or swimming in grottoes, it’s wise to have a waterproof phone pouch and/or waterproof camera to protect your devices.

Many travelers opt for GoPro cameras for capturing underwater moments.

An extra bag always comes in handy, and even a canvas tote can serve the purpose.

For beach days, consider a mesh bag specifically designed for that purpose.

It offers ample space while taking up minimal room in your luggage and it can also double as an overflow bag for souvenirs.

Don’t forget to pack a beach towel, most hotels prefer you not to use their bath towels for the beach, so having your own towel avoids any inconvenience.

Look for a quick-drying Turkish beach towel that folds up easily in your suitcase.

Alternatively, you can simply tuck an unfolded regular beach towel around the items inside your suitcase for added convenience.

How to pack for Italy: Spring 

If you plan to visit Italy between March and May, consider adding the following items to your basic packing list:

Pack a light or waterproof jacket.

Bringing along 1 or 2 scarves is a smart move.

No need to bring out your bulkiest scarf; instead, consider opting for a warm and lightweight wool or silk scarf to keep you cosy.

It’s a thoughtful choice for those breezy days.

And don’t forget to include a travel umbrella.

It ensures you’re prepared for any unexpected downpour while exploring the enchanting streets of Italy.

How to pack for Italy: Fall (Autumn)

If you plan to visit Italy between late September and December, start with the basics and consider adding the following items to your packing list.

Remember that southern Italy may still experience warm weather until early October, while northern Italy begins to cool off during early autumn.

In late October, northern Italy can become chilly, and a hat will help keep you cosy.

Scarves are always a fantastic idea, especially during the middle to late autumn.

For colder mornings and evenings, consider bringing additional layers.

A long-sleeved shirt or button-up shirt layered with a tank or t-shirt is a great combination to stay comfortable in varying temperatures.

Since autumn is the rainiest season after spring, it’s essential to have an umbrella for your travels.

If you’re visiting in November or December, be prepared for wet days.

Having an umbrella on hand will ensure you stay dry while exploring the captivating cities of Italy.

Fall and winter are ideal seasons for packing a pair of boots.

Opt for boots with a rubber sole, as they are perfect for navigating rain-slicked cobblestones.

If you plan to visit Venice during November or December, it’s advisable to carry a pair of rubber boots in case of acqua alta flooding.

Here’s a handy packing tip: to save space in your suitcase, stuff your socks, scarves, and other small items inside your boots.

This not only maximizes space but also helps keep your items organized. 

How to pack for Italy: Winter

If you plan to visit Italy between December and February, wrap yourself in a cosy and warm wool coat.

The temperatures can range from cool to cold, and in the northern Alpine regions, they can even plummet to freezing levels.

Even in southern regions like Sicily, winters can be bitterly cold.

Don’t forget to pack extra layers, including a toasty hat and scarf.

These items will provide additional insulation against the cold temperatures. When the weather is cold, having a pair of warm gloves is crucial.

Opt for gloves that offer touchscreen compatibility so that you can use your phone without exposing your hands to the cold.

Alternatively, fingerless gloves are a fantastic option that combines warmth with practicality.

Consider swapping your ballet flats for long boots or adding a second pair of ankle boots to your footwear collection.

This way, you’ll be prepared for any weather condition or activity.

Don’t forget to tick off these essentials from your winter packing list:

Bonus pointers for ultimate fashion finesse

Want to elevate your look? Consider these extra tips to create an exceptional Italian ensemble:

Choose muted colors, like grey, navy, and beige, or embrace vibrant hues such as orange, pink, and green. When in doubt, opt for the understated in chic clothing over the trendy and flashy.

Toiletries and Health

Bring a compact toiletry bag with travel-sized items.

Add a first-aid kit with essentials like pain killers, insect repellent, band-aids, and sickness pills.

If you plan to be outdoors for long periods, add some sunscreen.

Do not forget items like feminine hygiene products and prescription medications.

We have pharmacies in Italy, where you can get medications and other hygiene items if you run out of supplies.

These pharmacies are called “Farmacia” and have a green cross sign outside them.

Travel-sized shampoo and conditioner

When it comes to maintaining personal hygiene while traveling, compact toiletries play a vital role in saving space and keeping the luggage lighter.

A convenient and popular option is travel-sized shampoo and conditioner.

These mini-sized bottles are easy to pack and carry around.

They come in handy for short trips or as a backup if you run out of your regular products.

Most major brands offer these travel-sized options, ensuring you don’t have to compromise on quality while traveling.

In addition to saving space, using travel-sized shampoo and conditioner can also help reduce plastic waste as they use less packaging.

It’s important to note that despite being smaller than the regular ones, these travel-sized bottles contain enough product for several uses.

Therefore, it’s essential to pack them judiciously based on the duration of your trip.

Tourist Attractions in Italy

How to pack for Italy: A street in the historic centre os Ostuni with people dressed in Summer dress.

Italy has a variety of tourist attractions each with its own peculiarities, so make sure you’re prepared for the location you’ll be visiting.

For example, if you are planning to visit the coastal towns of the Cinque Terre, you will need comfortable walking shoes and breathable clothing for the warm season.

If you plan to visit Milan, the fashion capital, pack your smartest clothes.

And when visiting the Vatican, it’s best to dress modestly.

So don’t forget to pack your camera to capture the breathtaking architecture and landscape of Italy.

With the right packaging essentials, you can enjoy all that Italy has to offer and create lasting memories.

Everyday Essentials

As you pack for a trip to Italy, think about the things you must have every day.

Above all, a pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential for exploring the ancient cities and cobblestone streets.

A light and versatile jacket is also essential, as the weather can be unpredictable.

Don’t forget to pack a refillable bottle to stay hydrated and avoid waste.

In addition, a portable charger for electronic devices ensures that you never miss a photo opportunity.

Packing a small shoulder bag or backpack is handy for carrying essentials while keeping your hands free.

Finally, a universal adapter for charging electronic devices is essential for international travel.

How to stay connected on Your Trip to Italy

When travelling in Italy in 2023, staying connected is important, especially if you’re travelling alone.

You don’t want to become disoriented in a different country with no way of communicating.

Get an international data plan for your phone, and bring a portable modem with you as wifi can be spotty in some places.

Also, download important apps such as Google Maps, WhatsApp, and Skype to communicate with your family and friends back home.

Bring a power bank to keep your phone charged throughout the day.

Smart Gadgets and Travel Apps

Smart gadgets and travel apps can enhance your experience in Italy.

For a hassle-free Italy trip, bring a two-prong continental European adaptor for any electronics and a power converter if it’s not dual voltage.

Consider downloading apps such as Google Translate to help with language barriers, and Citymapper to navigate public transportation.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Packing Options

Sustainability is becoming a top priority for travelers, and Italy is no exception.

When packing for your trip, consider bringing reusable water bottles and shopping bags to reduce waste.

Additionally, eco-friendly toiletries such as shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes are great options to reduce plastic waste.

Packing like a Pro for your Trip to Italy

If you want to be a pro-packer, remember to bring along these handy items:

a day bag, packing cubes, a folding garment bag and some empty space. The day bag will feel comfortable enough to carry all-day, while the packing cubes keep everything organised and can be compressed for saving space. A folding garment bag is essential if you’re allergic to wrinkles and ensures that your clothes are prepared for every situation.

Crucially, make sure you leave yourself some room by packing lightly – this way there’s lots of space for any special treasures you might pick up on your travels.

What NOT To Pack For Italy

As someone who doesn’t consider herself a light traveler, I’ve learned over the years to leave certain items behind.

These are typically products I rarely use, items that are heavy, or things that can be easily found at your destination.

Leave your valuable jewelry at home.

Doing so helps minimize the risk of becoming a target for pickpockets.

As previously stated bring travel-sized versions of toiletries, such as shampoo and conditioner, and leave the full-sized at home, or purchase these items upon arrival.

They add up weight and take up valuable space in your luggage.

Hairdryers and heat styling tools are another category of items that can be left at home.

Most hotels provide hairdryers for their guests’ convenience.

And if you’re an American travelling to Italy, your 110-volt appliances won’t work without a power converter.

In such cases, it’s best to leave them behind and rely on the provided amenities.

An adaptor alone won’t suffice.

Before your trip, make sure to read guidebooks and take notes or capture essential pages using your phone.

This way, you’ll have the necessary information readily available without the need to carry bulky guidebooks.

When it comes to entertainment, novels can be quite heavy.

Instead of packing physical books, consider getting a Kindle or downloading e-books onto your iPad or phone.

This way, you can have a variety of reading materials at your fingertips without the added weight.

Don’t bring your children’s toys.

There are plenty of opportunities for them to explore and discover new experiences while in Italy.

Packing fewer toys will not only lighten your load but also give them a chance to embrace the local culture and surroundings.

Budget-Friendly Tips for Shopping in Italy

If you’re going on a trip to Italy in 2023, you should absolutely go shopping.

There are many inexpensive locations to shop in Italy, and with a little planning, you may find some fantastic deals.

A tip is to avoid the touristy areas and instead visit the local markets and small shops.

Another tip is to shop during the sale periods, which usually happen in January and July.

You can also look for stores that offer discounts on designer brands.

And don’t forget to bargain!

Price negotiations are common in markets and smaller shops.

These handy shopping tips will help you bring home great souvenirs without breaking the bank.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Italy: In A Nutshell

Preparing for a trip to Italy involves more than just packing.

Here are some essential items to include on your checklist:

Travel documents: Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, and flight tickets.

Adapters: There are three associated plug types for Italy: C, F, and L.

Plug type C is a plug with two round pins;

plug type F is a plug with two round pins and two earth clips on the side;

and plug type L is a plug with three round pins.

Italy uses a 230V supply voltage and a frequency of 50 Hz. so be sure to pack the appropriate adapter.

Medication: Pack any necessary medication, as well as a copy of your prescription.

Learn basic Italian phrases: Knowing a few basic Italian phrases can enhance your interactions with locals and make your trip more enjoyable.

Research local customs: Understanding local customs such as dress codes and tipping practices can help you blend in and avoid any cultural faux pas.

Research transportation options and attractions: Researching transportation options and popular attractions in advance can save you time and money.

Check out my comprehensive guide on train travelling in Italy.

Concluding Tips for Packing for Italy in 2023

In summary, packing your bags for Italy in 2023 doesn’t have to be a difficult task.

With the right essentials, you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Pack suitable walking shoes for all walks, as well as a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.

A light jacket or sweater is also essential, as the weather can be unpredictable.

It’s also important to pack a money belt or secure handbag to keep your valuables safe.

Don’t forget your camera to capture the most beautiful places and moments of your trip.

By following this guide, you will be well prepared for your Italy vacation and will be able to really focus on all of the wonderful things that this country has to offer.

So, get your free Italy packing checklist, pack your bags, grab your passport, and get ready to make lasting memories in Italy.

Ciao e Buon Viaggio!

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I'm a freelance travel designer and writer, and I absolutely love what I do. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and traveling is the ultimate source of inspiration for me. In fact, I became particularly drawn to planning travel experiences in Italy back in 2015, and I've been hooked ever since! I'm what you might call a "slow traveler" - someone who likes to take their time exploring new places and soaking up different cultures. And when I started writing about my travels a few years ago, I was blown away by the incredible opportunity it gave me to share my experiences with others and learn from them in turn. It's truly an amazing thing!