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What To Wear In Italy

Ultimately, the clothes that end up on your Italy packing list should be those that make you most comfortable–ensuring that you enjoy your trip should always be a higher priority than passing as a local (which you probably won’t, anyway).

That being said, here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding what clothes should end up on your packing list for Italy.

Running shoes and baseball caps are unmistakable signs of an American tourist.

… And shorts are pretty high up on that list too.

Is that a huge problem? Nah. Stick with what you like–if you don’t mind looking like a tourist (I often don’t, and definitely wear a baseball cap on occasion), don’t sweat it.

But, since many people tend to like to blend in as much as they can, it’s worth mentioning!

Comfortable shoes that you can walk for miles in are the highest priority.

Seriously, if there is one clothing item that will make or break your Italy packing list, it’s having shoes that you’re comfortable walking around all day in. Trust me–I once broke in a pair of new boots by walking around Florence for several days, and it was painful.

I’d recommend sticking with no more than 2 pairs of shoes (possibly 3 if you include a pair of flip-flops for the beach).

I love simple leather boots like these for fall and winter in Italy, and tend to opt for comfortable, well-broken-in flats or boat shoes during the spring and summer. I wore these casual shoes during last spring in Italy, and while they are a bit better suited for the coast than more formal cities, I loved being able to walk around comfortably and didn’t feel like they stuck out.

Bring at least a couple church-appropriate outfits.

Don’t end up being turned away from visiting a church (yes, it has happened to me in Italy, and no, it’s not even a little bit fun): bring at least a couple of outfits that cover both your shoulders and knees, or at the very least, outfits that cover your knees and a scarf to throw over your shoulders. Maxi dresses are perfect for this kind of thing–I have this one and love how comfortable and photogenic it is while also being church-appropriate (just pull the sleeves up onto your shoulders).

This does tend to apply more to women than men (sigh), but men will still be turned away for wearing a tank top, and from a particularly conservative church, possibly for wearing shorts above the knee.

If you like to dress up a bit, this is the time to do it.

Italy is a fashionable place, so if you’d like to dress to the nines every day, go for it! You won’t look out of place, especially in cities like Milan and Rome.

When the weather cooperates, I tend to almost exclusively wear casual dresses similar to this one and this one while in Italy–they’re easy to pack, easy to throw on, comfortable for me to wear, and manage to make me look reasonably put together with little effort.

Check the weather before you go.

Italy’s weather varies dramatically depending on where and when you visit–Sicily in July is worlds away from Bolzano in December.

Be sure to check the weather before finalizing your packing list for Italy, as it’ll be the most effective way to ensure your Italy packing list is suited to your trip.

Bring a jacket, even in the summer.

When the air conditioning turns on in Italy, it really turns on–especially on trains. You’ll be much more comfortable if you have a jacket with you during longer journeys!

I generally bring something simple like this for travel days in Italy, along with my trusty fleece pullover. Jeremy loves this jacket and always packs it for Italy (and basically everywhere else, too).

When we visit Italy in the winter, we tend to wear peacoats like this one and this one–Italians tend to dress for the season, not the weather, so if you want to fit in, bring a coat during the winter even if it will be fairly warm!