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Fashion is one of the defining aspects of Italian culture. Keeping a sense of style in mind while deciding on what to pack for a summer in Italy is actually more important than you may think. Dressing stylishly not only prevents you from standing out as a tourist, and potential tourist scams, but it can also help to ensure a more culturally immersive experience. Not to say that you need to sport the hottest fashion while wandering the streets of Rome. But staying mindful of Italian style and seasonal trends will help you to feel more integrated with local, city life and culture.
Italians emphasize dressing appropriately for the season, destination and occasion. For this reason, I have specified this packing guide for summer in Italy specifically for trips to noncoastal cities and towns. This could be charming adventures in Venice or a countryside villa escape in Tuscany. One of the biggest takeaways you should get from this Italian packing guide is that just because it’s summer, does not mean beachwear is permitted in an urban setting. Though, if you are visiting beach destinations in Italy, reference the Beach & Resort Style Guide here.
Italian Cities & Towns Style Guide
Linen & Loose Fitting Pants – Italy can be incredibly hot in the summer, so breathable fabrics are a must. Linen pants not only are extremely comfortable and breathable but are also stylish. I especially love that they are easily dressed up or down, making them a versatile piece that can transition from day to night with the simple change in footwear and accessories.
Flirty Dresses – Dresses are always my go-to packing pieces because they make putting an outfit together so simple. The last thing that I want to be doing on vacation is to waste time styling a look. The key with dresses is that they make something so effortless look incredibly put together.
Tailored Shorts – Leave the jean cut-offs at home, and go for a more Italian, tailored look that also accommodates the blazing summer heat.
Light Sweaters – Summer temperatures stay considerably warm throughout the evening and into the night. But it’s never a bad idea to pack a layering piece, or two, for those unexpected, chilly evenings. Typically, lightweight cotton sweaters or linen scarves are your best bet.
Basic Tops – There is something about just keeping it simple. Basic layering pieces are always a must while traveling. Pair these with a styled pant or skirt, trendy sneakers, a few accessories, and you’re ready for your next Italian adventure.
Knit Tanks – To dress up any pant or short, knit tank tops are the perfect piece. A bonus is that they hardly wrinkle.
Comfortable & Stylish Sneakers – Walking is going to be your primary mode of transport when visiting any Italian city or town. That being said, it doesn’t give you the excuse to wear your gym shoes. Before stepping foot in Italy, invest in a comfortable, but still fashionable pair of every day sneakers.
Espadrille Flats – These are an excellent alternative to sneakers and are far more comfortable for stomping around on cobblestone all day than regular flats.
Block Heels or Espadrilles – Save yourself the precious packing space and leave your stilettos at home. Opt for either a block heel or a wedge to avoid any discomfort while wandering down cobblestone alleyways.
BAGS & ACCESSORIES
Lightweight Crossbody Bags – Crossbody bags are the ideal daytime accessories. Though, be sure to avoid anything with heavy hardware. The lighter weight the better, since it will be hanging from your shoulder all day as you tour the city.
Sunglasses – Trust me when I say, you will definitely be needing some shades during summers in Italy. Though, nothing in Italy is ever worn solely out of necessity. Rather, pull for your most fashionable pair that accentuate your look.
Stylish Backpacks – For those of you that want to bring along your camera for day outings, backpacks can be a perfect swap from a small crossbody. It’s worth noting that not all backpacks are created equal. My rule of thumb is that if the backpack even closely resembles something that could be used for a hike or camping, it is NOT stylish. So opt for more refined bags like a black leather backpack, or canvas with trendy hardware.
What to NOT Pack for Summer in Italy
*Yes, I actually see tourists in Italy wear some of these items in day to day and even in formal settings! As a general rule, if the clothing or accessories item is more functional than it is stylish, you can probably leave it off of your list of what to pack for summer in Italy.
- Sun Protectant Clothing – You are not out in the wilderness, just summer, city life. Opt for sunscreen instead.
- Wearable Passport Holders – This is simply a cry to be a target of pickpocket theft or a tourist scam.
- White Socks & Sneakers – Even worse, white socks with sandals!
- Athletic Wear – Yes, athleisure is also included in this category. My gym in Rome scolds me if I walk in already dressed in my gym attire. Wearing any form of athletic wear outside of a gym is highly frowned upon in Italy
- Camping or Hiking Attire – Just because you’re walking around a city all day does not permit hiking gear. Please do not shop for your Italian vacation at REI or any other outdoor outfitters for that matter.
- Stilettos – These are no match for winding, cobblestone streets. Thank me later, and leave these ankle breaking shoes at home.
- Flip Flops – This controversial footwear is only ever permitted if you are literally on the beach. Nowhere else should you wear flip flops in Italy.
- Cut Off Denim Shorts – You are not at a beach club, so don’t dress like it. Italians’ fashion sense is quite tailored, so, unfortunately, your cut off Levis don’t make the cut.