Amazing cuisine, unmatched history, cool cities and cracking art. Add in some stunning nature and lovely locals and you have Italy – one of the best tourist spots in the whole freakin world.
But what you should pack for a trip to Italy? How to make sure you look the part whilst being mindful of the changing seasons and weather patterns?
Here we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide on what to pack for Italy to answer those questions – including a top-22 needs packing list, tips on how to dress appropriately in Italy, an overview of conditions by season and what NOT to pack. We’ve also included a section for women – and one for men – with tips on what to pack based on specific needs of each.
Ok then, let’s get started!
The Ultimate Italy Packing List
So let’s find out what to pack for Italy. From choosing the right bag to picking chic shades, we aim to satisfy all of your Italy packing needs.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Italy, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Italy checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse. It’s perfect for long weekends in Rome & Milan.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase. It’s also black and stylish so you will it in in Italy very well.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
The Camera: GoPro Hero9 Black
For most of us, our smartphones now feature cameras with stunning photo capabilities.
But… if you are an aspiring photographer who wants to take next-level photos and video beyond iPhone selfies, I recommend going with an action camera like the GoPro Hero9 Black.
It does deliver pro-quality video and gives you a bunch of a different angle options and shooting speeds to work with for photos (including a selfie-mode).
Think of a camera purchase like this as a long term investment that will have you capturing epic shots well beyond your t exploring here.
If you are looking for something cheaper for video specifically, check out these epic GoPro Alternatives.
What To Pack For Italy: Personal Gear
Right so now you’ve got a bag to pack let’s have a look at what goes inside it! This guide is not intended to tell you everything (I mean you’re an adult) but instead we will recommend some awesome items that will make your packing for Italy infinitely more successful.
OK so we are not going to tell you what to wear but do bear in mind these golden rules. (1) Italian’s are stylish. Don’t offend them by wearing cargo short and vests everywhere and avoid sandals with socks at all costs. (2) Note that it get’s HOT in the summers, especially in the South, but is mild, wet and sometimes chilly in winter.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Whatever you do in Italy, it will probably invoice a fuck-ton of walking. I mean, sightseeing in Rome alone can click up serious miles and that’s just the Vatican! Therefore good shoes are like a solid foundation from which to execute your trip.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear and you may feel self conscious in Italy. However, these are not too bad. Besides, they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. I mean, your body is already going to be suffering enough from all of those negroni’s and glasses of vino.
Italy also offers plenty of hiking options. Packing a pair of hiking shoes gives you the option (and eliminates excuses) to go head for the hills when the city becomes too much.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Good Rain Jacket – Arcteryx Beta AR
If you are visiting Italy in autumn of winter, then it may well rain. This is especially true in the North and Milan can sometimes feel a little bit British to be honest.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wing gear for it. Don’t let a bit (of a lot) of rain ruin your trip and make sure you are ready with some top notch rain gear.
This is our pick of the many rain jackets we have tried. It’s reliable & stylish and looks good worn out in the mountains or in city bars.
A Down Jacket: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody
If you are visiting in summer, then a proper rain jacket may be overkill. In fact, you may well be able to get away with no jacket at all. However, evenings can get cool and if you headed to the mountainy areas expect a refreshing breeze. Therefore, bringing a warming jacket is a good item to tick of your “what to bring to Italy” list.
It weighs just under a pound and provides an excellent weight to warmth ratio. If you don’t go for one of the super bright colors, it is pretty stylish and city-worthy also.
If visiting Italy in the winter, this jacket is an absolute must.
Check out our best travel jackets article for more inspiration.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Italy is actually a pretty safe country and you will most likely have nothing to worry about on your trip. However, things can and do go wrong. The cities are rife for tourist targeting pick-pockets and driving standards did invite the occasional bump. Having travel insurance, may therefore be a wise move.
I admit I traveled for many years without having travel insurance. Because of it, I paid the price a few times in foreign hospitals. It can get expensive.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
Italians pretty much live in sunglasses. Whether that’s because the sun shines a lot or simply because they like the movie star aesthetic is anybodies guess mind. A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Italy packing essentials. Our favorites are SunGod Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for Italy may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned cocktail-toting people you see wandering around.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst Italy is not particularly dangerous, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
Italy is in the EU and part of the Schengen zone. EU citizens can come and go with their EU Citizen ID and there are porous borders with several neighbouring countries. However, do make sure you bring the right ID and entry document and ensure it is properly valid.
You may also need ID to get served alcohol if you are young looking but to be honest, the Italian’s ain’t all that strict about it.
A Hat – Patagonia Fitz Roy Trucker
The sun in Italy can be intense. Why not protect your previous forehead from it’s cruel rays with a hat?! This one also has the advantage of looking kinda stylish which the Italian’s dig.
Patagonia makes great hats. I have probably bought three or four of these over the last five years. Simple. Practical. Comfortable. That is what you are after.
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 hysteria is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risks while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
Let’s remember that Italy suffered badly from COVID-19 and was once the global disease epicentre. As such they did introduce some hefty lockdown and hygiene measures.
It is absolutely essential that you pack the following items for your trip to Italy to ensure you conform with local requirements.
- Bring a Mask.
- Bring Hand sanitizer and wash your hands often.
- Consider disposable gloves for slot machines or other when touching other stuff that hundreds of other people have also touched that day. From an environmental point of view, these types of gloves are fuc**** awful. Use these only when necessary and keep in mind these things are very polluting and will end up in a landfill after one use.
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. The quality of Italian tap water varies between regions and cities. But you can buy a big 5 litter bottle and fill up your bottle each time and carry it with you when you go out in order to avoid buying water throughout your day.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your Italy trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth.
If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
A Good Daypack for Hiking – Osprey Daylite Plus
If you intend on doing any hiking, doing a Pompei tour or bussing around the country then you will need a daypack. They are great for carrying water, hat’s and gloves and for packing sandwiches for lunch. We love Osprey products and this daypack is our personal pick.
The Osprey Daylite Plus has a mesh-covered panel to keep your back cool and fresh by minimizing contact with the back of the pack itself and allowing air to get between you and the pack.
Check out our full review of the Osprey Daylite plus for more details.
Additionally, you can attach it to other Osprey packs in case you want to add more capacity and carry just one piece of luggage… but the reviews on this feature are mixed.
Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba 2p
A great way to save money in Italy is to camp as much as possible. I once spent 2 blissful weeks camping in Sardinia and fund some amazon camases. This is more the choice for those in the market for budget backpacking gear. It’s got all the perks of a top-notch backpacking tent without all the freakishly high numbers on the price tag.
This is a great tent. The MSR Hubba Hubba 2p is mega-roomy and has multiple of pockets for keeping your self organized when settling in for the night.As far as budget backpacking tents go, this is one of the best. It’s a happy medium between the ‘prepared for anything’ mode and the ‘I wanted to go for a trek so I bought this for 2000 rupees’ afterthought.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Italy
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a trip to Italy:
- A few pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town. Whatever makes you comfy!
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for quiet moments
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are plenty of ATM machines)
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Italy
And that’s it, friends! You’ve got all you need to know about what to pack for Italy with a handy 22-needs packing checklist and our tips on what to wear and pack by the season. Take heed to our packing advice geared towards women and men, what to leave behind and what travel bag to carry it all in.
Just remember to pack light and smart – with a touch of style. Above all, be prepared and be safe at all times.
Oh yeah, and also eat a lot of pizza, drink a lot of wine….and have an amazing time!
Arrivederci e buon viaggio!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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