Over the last 20 years, we’ve made some Italy packing mistakes. It’s from our mistakes (and packing wins) that we created our Ultimate Italy Packing List And Buying Guide. This travel guide includes a list of what to pack for Italy and what you can leave at home.
If you are a frequent reader of this food and drink blog, you’ve heard us say, we’ve been traveling to Italy together for over two decades. That’s a lot of Italy travel expertise. Our rate of trips has even increased because we now live in Europe.
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What To Pack For Italy – What You Will Learn
In this blog post, we share our top tips on how to pack for a trip to Italy, whether your itinerary takes you to Italian villages or cities, or are traveling to Italy for food. These tips will help anyone planning a two-week trip to Italy, or something shorter, or even something longer.
Our tips cover Italy travel essentials that you need when visiting Europe as well as some specific tips on Italian fashion. My ultimate goal is to help you pack for your trip and to have a worry-free and hassle-free Italian holiday.
After returning from our most recent trip to Italy in 2022, I am also updating this post based on some things we learned during our two-week trip.
What You Will Learn In This Italy Packing Tips Guide:
We provide our ultimate Italy packing list to help you make the most of your trip to Italy. We share:
- What to pack for a trip to Italy during each season. Including recommendations for traveling to Italy in the summer.
- What to bring to Italy besides clothes. There’s more to traveling than wardrobe for travelers who want to be prepared.
- What should be on your Italy packing list (and what shouldn’t be). Times have changed and conventional wisdom is not always applicable to traveling today.
Italy Travel Essentials
Some travelers are concerned with finding the perfect Audrey Hepburn “American in Rome” style sunglasses, and that’s all they need. There’s so much more to how to pack for Italy than that. In this ultimate packing list and buying guide, I want to offer advice on a few different topics.
Sure, I will recommend what to pack and what to wear in Italy. But, more than that, I want to share our tips on packing for Italy. In the end, we will share advice on topics you might not realize you need to consider. This is particularly important for people traveling to Italy for the first time.
Italy Packing List And Buying Guide
We have loads of advice below on packing for Italy, but before we get to the travel advice, I want to share a list of items many of our readers ask about. These are some of our favorites.
|🇮🇹 What To Pack For Italy||☀️ Italy In Summer/Spring||🌨 Italy In Winter/Fall|
|🧳 Carry-on Luggage||ROAM Personalized Luggage; Knack expandable backpack; Chester Spinner Luggage; PAKT Tote Bag (more for men)||Knack Compression Packing Cubes (to save space)|
|👜 Crossbody Bag||Kate Spade Crossbody Bags For Women (leather)||Sherpani Crossbody Bag (cotton and canvas)|
|👜 Anti-theft Purse||TravelOn Anti-Theft Bucket Bag (lightweight material)||TravelOn Anti-Theft Heritage Tote Bag (cotton, canvas, and swede)|
|🥿 Comfortable Shoes For Women||allbirds ballet flats; Birkenstocks; Strappy flat sandals|
|👞 Comfortable Shoes For Men||Tropic Feel shoes for men|
|👚 Wool Travel Clothing For Women||Wool& summer dresses, wool short sleeve tees and tanks||Wool& winter dresses; Wool& wool cardigans; twill dress shirts|
|👕 Wool Travel Clothing For Men||Wool & Prince short sleeve tees, henleys, linen dress shirts||Wool & Prince long sleeve henleys, dress shirts|
|🔌 Travel Adapter||Universal Adapter||Italian 3 Prong Adapter Pack|
|🔋 Power Pack For Charging||Anker Power Packs (for charging on the go)|
|🌂 Windproof Umbrella||Windproof Travel Umbrella|
|💧Filtered Water Bottle||Brita Filtered Water Bottle|
|💶 Money Belt or Passport Belt||RFID Blocking Stash Neck Wallet|
|👒 Hat For Women||Foldable Sun Hat|
|🧢 Hat For Men||Packable Hat|
Our Expertise On The Things To Pack for Italy
We’ve been traveling to Italy for over 20 years and over that time our travel style has changed a lot. My memory of our first trip to Rome and Venice is that we were way, way over packed.
And we couldn’t help but look like Americans right off the boat. We broke so many of our suggestions below. We’ve changed over the last two decades, but Italy has also changed. Some of the conventional thoughts about the Italian wardrobe have also changed.
The other thing I remember from that trip way back when is that we definitely overpacked with oversized luggage. It was impossible for me to lift my own suitcase on a train, up a staircase, or drag it across cobblestone streets.
I felt underdressed a lot, and I remember getting blisters from inappropriate shoes. It was all just plain wrong. Back then, I never bothered to seek advice on the best travel clothes for Italy. And, I would have had no idea how to find an Italy packing checklist.
We’ve been on so many trips to Italy that I wrote a book about Italian gastronomy. Now that we live in Europe, I also feel that I’ve finally figured out the ins and outs.
We travel like a well-oiled machine, but I also know that travelers from long distances have different needs than us. We will cover all of that here. Most of our travel tips apply to what women should pack for Italy, but we also include some tips for men as well.
Top Things To Consider When Preparing Your Italy Packing List
There is no way to write a short travel blog post on packing for a trip to Europe. We make different recommendations for different travelers depending on some of the following circumstances.
- Think about the time of year of your visit. Italian winter fashion is totally different than summer fashion
- Whether you will travel carry on or will check your bag
- How much walking will you do during your trip
- What kind of activities are you planning? Is it an Italian city break or beach break? Are you hiking or skiing?
Luggage For Italy And Travel Bags
In the photo above: Using my Roam Personalized Luggage in Italy – small enough to fit in the trunk of a Fiat in Italy! Use the code TravelForFood50 to save $50 off your new bag
Packing For Italy In A Carry-On
Oh boy, I could spend thousands of words talking about this very issue. The most important thing when traveling in Europe is to pack as light as possible. During my first trip to Italy, my bag was way too big, and I had trouble moving it on my own.
Now, I only travel with a carry-on-sized bag that I can carry, roll, and lift wherever I need to without any help. I sometimes check this bag because I am carrying toiletries that are too large or because I buy too much wine when traveling. It happens.
All that said, I use this same carry-on-sized suitcase whether I am traveling for a weekend or a month. I’ve used this bag for summer trips and winter trips and for business trips where I am packing a blazer. I just make it work. In this packing blog post, I will share some pro tips on how to travel with a smaller bag.
Another thing to consider when packing light is that although it might take some time, almost everything you need can be purchased in Italy. If you are on a short trip, you might not want to waste time shopping, but consider it an adventure. Shopping in a pharmacia or grocery store in Italy is one of the best ways to learn about the local culture!
Recommended Luggage For Italy
During our most recent two-week trip to Italy, we each brought one rolling carry-on-sized bag and one expandable backpack. The wheels on our ROAM luggage held up to cobblestones and the size of the bag was easy for me to carry up and down the stairs in the train stations. They were also a bit more fashionable because, you know, Italy. Our Knack backpacks also fit perfectly on the handle of the ROAM making travel seamless!
- ROAM Customized Travel Luggage – Customize your own colors to match your personality. Comes in a large carry-on size and an expandable option >> Learn more here >> Use the code TravelForFood50 to save $50 off your new bag here
- Chester Travels Hard-Sided Luggage – More understated than the room, but comes in a variety of sizes and colors, lightweight and easy to maneuver; options for larger luggage as well as carry-on>> Learn more here >> Use the discount code “TravelForFood10” to save 10% off of all luggage and sets. Click here.
- Knack expandable backpacks – in several sizes, can get us through a 4-5 day trip in Italy >> See the Knack bag here
- Pakt One Tote Bag – great for a long weekend, it gets a little heavy for me, but Eric loves it! >> See the Pakt One here
- Knack Packing Cubes – help with organization and compression during winter in Italy >> Learn more here
Read more in our guide to the Best Carry-On Bags and our Packing Guide for 2 Weeks in Europe With Only a Carry On (with tips on packing light!)
If you want larger luggage for Italy, we recommend Level 8 Cases. They are durable and lightweight in themselves, making them easier than traditional luggage when traveling in Italy. We have a 24-inch checked-in bag, which provides loads of space, but doesn’t drag us down in weight. When traveling more long-term, Eric carries the Level 8 and I will bring my ROAM carry-on as a nice compromise. Learn more here.
Crossbody Bag Or Travel Purse
I usually travel with my carry-on suitcase, a travel day pack, and a travel purse. To be fair, now that I can pay for things on my phone, and I have Eric with a credit card just in case, I sometimes don’t even use a purse in Italy. I slip my phone and a lipstick in my pockets and just go.
But, I tend to use a smaller crossbody bag for extra security in countries that have problems with pickpockets. I have a smaller Kate Spade Crossbody bag, which I can use day and night. It’s also small enough to fit in my luggage when I am not using it. I use the Kate Spade at home as well, so it’s not just a purse for travel. I am also a big fan of Travelon Anti-Theft bags, which have loads of great features.
Recommended Travel Purses For Italy
- Kate Spade Crossbody Bag – Great for day or night, slim, lightweight, holds the essentials
- Sherpani Crossbody Bag – A little more durable and heavyweight and perfect when traveling in Italy in the winter or fall
- Travelon Anti-Theft Bucket Bag, which is a little more lightweight for the summer and the Travelon Heritage Anti-Theft Bag, which is made of cotton, canvas, and swede and stands up to the weather in Italy in the winter. I’d recommend an anti-theft bag if traveling to Italy over the summer or in bigger cities, like Rome, Milan, or Florence.
What Shoes To Pack For Italy
Italy can be summed up in one word – cobblestones. This is why durable rolling luggage is key. So are comfortable shoes. Despite the notion that Italians are dressed to the nines all the time, this is not the time to test out the new pair of heels in your closet. Between rough cobblestones and slippery marble, the streets in Italy are stunningly beautiful but not super practical.
We always go sensible when it comes to packing shoes for Italy. Some of our favorites include Birkenstocks (for both women and men), comfortable walking shoes, and simple ballet flats that can be worn day or night. Here are what shoes we’ve packed for Italy during some of our recent trips.
- Ballet Flats: I’m a recent convert to allbirds. They are sustainable, made of wool, and even washable. I found this a godsend during summer travel in Italy. I can wear my allbirds ballet flats without socks and then throw them in with the laundry to clean them up. This worked well when it was raining and they got a bit muddy too. The allbirds are also really cushioned, so I can wear them throughout the day. Learn more here.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Eric is a big fan of Tropic Feel and has had 3 pairs of them over the years. They are lightweight, waterproof, and can be worn all day. He even wears them out to dinner in the evenings and they look like what the locals wear in Italy. Learn more here.
- Running Shoes: We each travel with a pair of quality running sneakers so that we can exercise while traveling.
- Birkenstocks: As much as we tend not to wear flip-flops when traveling in Italy (unless we are at the beach), Birkenstocks can be a godsend during hot summers in Italy.
Weather In Italy – What To Pack For Different Seasons
Italy has four distinct seasons just like much of Europe and the US. There is some variation in weather by region. The Italian regions in the south have warmer temperatures than those regions in the north.
In almost all areas of Italy, July and August are hot and humid. This is particularly true along the Italian Riviera or the Amalfi Coast, but there are at least breezes off the coast. Towns in Tuscany or Umbria can be sweltering.
Air conditioning is not as common as in the US, particularly in restaurants and cafes. Don’t assume that hotels will have air conditioning, many do not. If they do have air-con, it might not be to the American level. We visited a restaurant in Italy that had an air conditioner, behind a curtain, underneath an open window, so all the air escaped. It’s just not a priority in Italy.
Although winters in the south of Italy can be mild, in the north, expect the possibility of rain and snow. There are some areas in Northern Italy where they ski. That’s how cold it gets.
When traveling to Italy in the spring or fall, check the weather report a week before departure. There can be some surprises with surprisingly cold weather in April and surprisingly hot weather in September.
During these shoulder seasons, it is best to pack to be prepared. This includes packing layers and possibly a rain jacket or travel umbrella.
Learn more about when to travel to Italy.
What To Wear In Italy In Summer – May, June, July, August
I am the first to admit that I am not a fashionista. How many times have I repeated my mantra about function over fashion? As I get older, though, I am considering what I wear when traveling. It’s also easier to have more options for clothing now that we are no longer nomadic.
Packing For Italy In Summer – Women
Summer in Italy is the perfect time for strappy sandals and sundresses. In June, we visited Bologna, Trento, and Genoa, traveling for two weeks. Halfway through, we rented an apartment with a washing machine. Good thing because we sweat a lot. This is what was in my suitcase:
- One pair of strappy black sandals or a pair of ballet flats and one pair of Birkenstocks
- One denim, sleeveless dress (above), one sleeveless wool& dress, one flowy pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one pair of capris, and one pair of linen pants
- Seven tops, a mixture of sleeveless and 3/4 length, including a couple of wool t-shirts that don’t need to be washed after every wear.
- Bright colored scarf
- One denim jacket and one lightweight wool cardigan
I only wore my shorts on travel days because the trains are not uber-air conditioned and for a craft beer festival. I generally wore my dress and flowy pants at night. It was too warm to wear jeans.
In the photo above: Eric in the Arc’Teryx Everday Essentials line, including polo shirts and chinos that are easy to travel with and lightweight. Wearing the Tropic Feel waterproof, lightweight, and super comfortable shoes too.
Italy Packing For Summer – Men
When it comes to what men wear when traveling to Italy, Eric usually goes pretty simple and keeps it in line with what I bring. For summer or spring in Italy, he packs:
- Three pairs of lightweight and linen pants, one pair of 3/4 length shorts (he hates shorts)
- Two long-sleeved but lightweight and casual dress shirts
- Seven short-sleeved tops, including t-shirts, short-sleeved henleys, and polo shirts. This includes lightweight wool t-shirts and henley shirts that don’t need to be washed after every wear. Learn more here.
- One pair of Birkenstocks and his Tropic Feel shoes, which work for walking shoes and evenings out
Eric doesn’t tend to wear shorts, which is less common for men in Italy. He also left the jeans at home because the summers in Italy are too hot and humid.
In the photo above, Eric is wearing a long-sleeve henley and zip-up sweatshirt from Wool&Prince on a colder day in Italy.
What To Wear In Italy – Winter And Fall
Most of Italy tends to get cold and wet in the winter and the fall. This is when wool traveling clothing comes in handy. It’s great to layer, keeps us warm, dries quick, and you don’t need to wash it as often, so you can pack light.
We are huge fans of Wool And Prince for men’s travel clothing and Wool& for women’s travel clothing. During fall and winter in Italy, Eric will pack some of their long-sleeved henley shirts and their heavier wool sweatshirt. These pieces are great for layering during the day and can be dressed up for dinner at night. Eric will also travel with one of the Wool&Prince dress shirts for fancier meals at night.
In the photo above: In addition to my denim jacket, which I travel with on every trip unless it’s the dead of winter, I am wearing a long-sleeve wool dress and tights from Wool&.
For women, I tend to wear a combination of jeans and sweaters along with dresses and tights when packing for Italy in the winter and fall.
I am also a big fan of wearing wool when traveling in the colder weather in Italy for much the same reason as Eric. If I want to dress up a bit and break up the routine of jeans and sweaters, then my wool travel dresses are the way to go. I also always travel with one of my lightweight wool cardigans, which don’t take up a lot of space in the luggage, look a little more dressy than a sweater, and go with everything!
Wool& has a great selection of long-sleeve wool dresses, most with pockets for functionality! I also have a couple of pairs of wool tights and leggings, which are easy to pack, don’t wrinkle, and keep my legs warm on colder days.
Italian Attire – Function Over Fashion
More than in many other countries, I think people concern themselves with asking what do people wear in Italy. To some extent, you should. Italians have a reputation for fashion.
But traveling in Italy is different from living in Italy. You need to fit everything in one suitcase and a carry-on bag. You need to worry about having enough clean clothing during your trip.
And, think about the lovely Italian cities and villages, filled with cobblestone streets, ancient stone staircases, and few elevators and escalators. With all of our recommendations on how to pack for Italy, there is a practical balance of fashion versus function.
It’s all well and good to dress to the nines, but if you are not dressed comfortably, if you don’t have comfortable walking shoes, you will be miserable. That I can guarantee.
What to Wear in Italy Pro Tip
The literal translation of the Bella Figura is the beautiful figure, but it is understood as a reference to a person’s presentation. Italians generally seem to be dressed to the nines. But, think about function over fashion. Dress comfortably, but add a fashionable scarf or fun bag to dress up your outfit. That will be enough to be La Bella Figura.
What Not To Wear In Italy
There are some traditional notions that travelers might read about what to wear in Italy. I’ve heard travel writers opine that there are no shorts, flip-flops, sneakers, gym clothes, etc.
I think 20 years ago, this might have been the case (evidenced by my bright white Nike sneakers from this photo back in 2000). Current Italian everyday fashion is different than it once was. Here are my thoughts on each of these fashion items and whether they are worn as Italian clothing.
Wearing Shorts In Italy
For women, shorts are fine. Young Italian women tend to think the shorter the better. Slightly older Italian women will wear shorts, but they tend to be longer, reaching the top of the knee.
It is still more common to see skirts than shorts. It’s still not too common for men to wear shorts. Eric generally wears ¾ length shorts or what we refer to as “manpris” – men’s capri pants. You won’t stick out wearing shorts but think about longer shorts or capri pants as an alternative in the summer.
Flip Flops In Italy
There is always a discussion about shoes to wear in Italy in the summer. Sandals are perfectly acceptable when traveling to Italy in the summer, but flip flops are still reserved for the beach. In the summer I travel with my Birkenstocks for walking during the day and a strappy sandal for the evenings.
Sneakers In Italy
Sneakers, or trainers, are probably now the most common shoe in Italy, particularly for the young. To seem really Italian, perhaps choose a European brand like Adidas or a bright color. It’s common to see bright red sneakers, yellow, orange, etc. Sometimes I see Reebok high-top sneakers and I feel like I am back in middle school in the 1980s. True story.
Gym Clothes In Italy
I’ve seen this written a few times by travel writers. Obviously, Italians exercise and if you go for a run while in Italy, feel free to bring running shorts or leggings. Also, there is a trend across Europe, from Italy to Ireland where men wear sweatpants in public.
I am not a fan, but it happens. I think here a rule would be for men to not wear a simple t-shirt and gym shorts for an afternoon of sightseeing or wine tasting.
Dressing For Churches And Cathedrals In Italy
Italy is famous for its food and for some of the most amazing churches and cathedrals in Europe.
There is one exception to all of my exceptions above. There is still a bit of conservatism when it comes to what to wear in Italy if you plan to visit churches. This includes even some of the most popular tourist sites in the country, like the Vatican.
It’s generally assumed that shoulders and knees will be covered. I’ve heard of tourists getting away with shorts and tanks in churches in Italy, but I always err on the side of caution and respect for the local norms.
In the hot summer months, this can mean a woman wearing capri pants and a scarf over a tank top if needed. I am used to this from when we lived in Thailand. When traveling around Southeast Asia I always carried a scarf to throw over my shoulders or a sarong to wrap around my waist.
For men, it’s a little more difficult in hot weather and would require long pants or “manpris.” Avoid tank tops for men. Practically, at most smaller churches no one would deny you entry, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and to be respectful of the local culture.
Travel Packing Checklist For Italy – Accessories
Regardless of the season, there are some items that you should consider packing when traveling in Italy. Some of these recommendations may seem somewhat obvious to seasoned travelers.
But, I’ve been part of a Traveling to Italy Facebook Group for years now, and I am always surprised at the questions asked. Sometimes I forget that we are professional travelers and professional eaters and a lot of this comes naturally. Feel free to skim or to skip on some of these topics if you are more familiar with what to pack for Italy.
A lot of people pack a travel umbrella, which can be a small but important addition to keep you dry in rainy weather. We like to take risks here. We each have a rain jacket and many of the hotels we stay at have umbrellas to loan out. But, this is definitely not common.
If traveling to Italy in the Spring or Fall it’s probably worth it to travel with an umbrella just in case. Check out this Windproof Travel Umbrella.
Filtered Water Bottle
We’ve never had problems drinking tap water in Italy from a health perspective, but just like in the US, it can taste a little strange. We try not to buy loads of plastic water bottles when traveling, although I recognize it will happen.
To reduce your use of plastic, I recommend bringing a Britta filtered water bottle so you can fill up your bottle from the tap in your hotel or apartment rental and carry it with you through the day.
Italian restaurants generally do not serve tap water. Instead, you will end up ordering a bottle of still or sparkling water at the restaurants for about €2 depending on the size. It’s worth it. Stay hydrated, particularly when traveling in Italy in the summer.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t forget your sunglasses. For Eric and I, these are essential for traveling, no matter where you go. You can also buy them cheap in Italy as well, but they are a perfect way to spice up your Italy Instagram photos.
This is also a great accessory to spruce up an otherwise neutral travel wardrobe. Also, here, there is no need to bring super-fancy designer sunglasses that you might end up breaking or losing during your trip.
What To Pack For A Trip To Italy – Technology
Extra Memory Cards
We upload photos we take on our smartphones to Dropbox daily and automatically. But, we also both have big memory cards on our Smartphones and on our camera.
Either upgrade the size of your memory card, or pick up an extra before leaving home. You don’t want to miss out on amazing Italy vacation photos because you’ve run out of space. This 125GB memory card will mean you will never run out of space for your photos.
Other Technology To Pack For Italy
In addition to a camera or smartphone, there are a handful of tech items that you should add to your travel essentials list for Italy.
- iPad or Laptop or MacBook: We always travel with our Macbooks, but that’s because we work while traveling. There are some great laptops for travel, but if heading out on an actual vacation (jealous) an iPad or Kindle Fire might work well.
- Power Pack: We always travel with at least one portable battery to top up our smartphones during long days of sightseeing in Italy. We also carry our charging cords with us during the day because there are often cafes or restaurants where we can top up along the way. We’ve had a few power packs from Anker that have worked well.
- Travel Adapter: I can’t say it enough, this is one of the most important things to pack for a trip. A proper travel adapter will help you charge all of your devices while traveling. I recommend taking multiple converters on a trip. We generally carry at least four on each trip, two for our laptops and two for our phones, so we can charge most of our devices at one time. This is important when you have long days and might not have a ton of time to charge up back at the hotel. A Universal Adapter is the best value because it can be used in Europe, the UK, and Asia. For Italy, I would also recommend a couple of Italian-specific three-prong adapters.
What To Not Add To Your Italy Travel Items Checklist
There are a handful of items that many travelers consider adding to their vacation packing list. But for a variety of reasons, these should be on your list of what not to pack for a trip to Italy. This is mostly because things have changed considerably in Italy, and the world in general, over the past decade.
In today’s society, traveler’s checks are no longer needed. In fact, they can be a real pain to use because you need to go to a bank (when the banks are open) to exchange them. Follow our Italy travel tips on how to access money in Italy.
Most Italian hotels will have a hairdryer, even if it is not of the best quality. Packing a hairdryer takes up space. It requires an adapter. A lot of hotel bathrooms in Italy don’t have an outlet for an appliance like this.
Baseball Cap or Visor
As much as it is becoming more common to see Italians wearing sneakers and even shorts, a baseball cap, particularly one with a US team just screams American.
The one exception is that because of its marketing might, a NY Yankees cap is seen on the heads of teenagers around the world. If you want to protect your face from the sun, perhaps purchase this foldable sunhat for women or this packable hat for men and women.
When living in Bangkok, I bought a fabulous pair of bright red heels. I wore them out a lot there, where we were taking taxis or an Uber to go out at night with friends. I’ve never worn them in Italy or while living in Spain.
First, we walk everywhere. Second, heels and cobblestones don’t mix. Sure, you want to accessorize fabulous outfits to wear in Italy, but remember our mantra from above – Function Over Fashion.
Other Italy Travel Packing Tips
If you have prescription medication that you must travel with, try to bring it in the original bottle that shows your name and details. We’ve never been stopped, but you never know. This is better than bringing random pills in a pill organizer.
As for other basic medication, I always travel with ibuprofen, Alka Seltzer, and other just-in-case items. It is super easy to purchase anything you need at an Italian pharmacy if needed, but I would rather have the basics with me in case I am not feeling well at night or on a Sunday when it is harder to find shops in Italy open.
Passport Requirements For Italy
If you are traveling from within the European Union, a National Identification card is sufficient. For the rest of us, a passport is required. Be sure to have at least six months of validity on your passport. For example, if your trip begins on January 1, be sure that your passport doesn’t expire until after July 1.
Years ago, we would always carry a photocopy of both of our passports in every piece of baggage we carried (in case some were stolen). Now, I recommend scanning a copy or taking a photo on your phone and keeping it in the “cloud.” This can mean keeping it in Dropbox, Google Drive, or even just emailing it to yourself so that you can access it if need be.
If you are American, be aware of the rules for Schengen. Essentially, because Italy is part of the Schengen Zone (which is different from the European Union) Americans (as well as Kiwis, Aussies, and Canadians) are allowed to travel in Italy for no more than 90 days within 180 days.
This is a complicated and comprehensive travel topic, but just be aware of the Schengen Visa rules for traveling in Spain and throughout Europe.
Money Issues – Accessing Money In Italy
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions about traveling in Italy, or anywhere in the world, particularly from Americans. I will speak to this from an American perspective.
I recommend bringing one ATM card and two credit cards. Keep one credit card in your hotel safe, or hidden in a suitcase just in case your bag is stolen. Call your bank and you credit card companies before leaving to let them know where you are traveling and when so that they do not turn your credit card off for suspicious behavior.
Foreign Transactions Fees Using Credit Cards In Italy
Most important, check whether your credit cards charge Foreign Transaction Fees. Foreign Transaction Fees can be 2-3% of every purchase you make. Some cards have these and some don’t.
Most of our Chase credit cards don’t charge the fee. The same goes for ATM cards. Just call to confirm so you are not surprised when you get home with random fees. Also, Visa and Master Card are almost universally accepted. American Express is often not accepted because they charge a lot more fees. Discover is rarely accepted.
ATMs In Italy
As for money, the easiest and best way to access cash when traveling in Italy is to use the local ATM machines to withdraw Euros. There is no need to convert USD to Euros at your bank before leaving home. There is no need to convert at the airport in the US or in Europe. Generally, the exchange rates and fees are way worse than simply withdrawing money at an ATM.
While in Italy, look for ATMs from major bank brands like Unicredit and Intesa. Avoid ATMs that are located as part of a souvenir shop or convenience store. To limit fees, we often withdraw €300 or €500 at a time. Eric carries some, I carry some, I hide some in a bag in my hotel room, etc.
Money Belt or Passport Belt
A lot of people put a money belt or passport belt on their list of what to pack for Italy. We have not traveled with one since our first trip to Italy in 2000.
First off, there is no reason to carry your passport with you during the day. Leave it at your hotel and have a copy or a photograph on your phone instead. That way it stays safe.
As for money, Eric doesn’t carry a big wallet when traveling. He keeps his money in his front pocket where it is most safe. If you follow my advice above about keeping money in various places and not carrying all your credit cards with you, you should be fine.
This is particularly true if you are used to traveling in big cities, like New York or Chicago. You just need to keep your wits about you.
All that said, if you would feel more secure using a money belt, we recommend this Stash Neck Wallet. It includes an RFID blocker, which means that your credit cards are more secure. It also has room for a smartphone to keep it secure as well.
FAQs – What To Pack For Italy
Italy is very warm in the summer months. You are going to want to have lightweight clothing to beat the heat. Shorts and skirts are acceptable, but if you are visiting any churches or religious sights, more modest clothing like longer skirts or pants should be worn out of respect.
No matter how hard you try, you will look like a tourist. That said, there are a few steps you can take to help “blend in”. For starters, Italy is a fashion-forward country. Try to avoid looking like you are heading to the gym or doing yard work by wearing sweatpants or ripped clothing. Learning a few basic Italian words is always helpful and respectful of trying to fit in.
Yes, especially in the North. Cities like Milan and Turin see temperatures below freezing as well as snow during the winter months. As you travel further south, you will find more moderate temperatures but keep in mind mountainous areas where temperatures will be cold. Sicily and southern Italy are warmer compared to the north but perhaps not beach warm.
Why not? Italy is a very fashion-forward country but this shouldn’t stop you from being comfortable. From long days on your feet to cobblestone streets, your feet are going to take a beating during your Italy vacation. Bringing and wearing sneakers is perfectly acceptable. That said, it’s always good to have a pair of “dressier” shoes for evenings or visiting sites like the Vactican.
Culinary Travel To Italy
Our Italy Travel Experience
Our first trip to Italy was in 2000, and since then, we’ve taken dozens of trips to Italy to almost every region. Our most recent trip was in 2022.
This is easier for us as we live in Europe. We’ve taken food tours, cooking classes, visited wineries, and dined at some of the best restaurants in Italy. We are experts at Italy travel and, more importantly, eating in Italy.
Check out Amber’s book, the Food Traveler’s Guide To Emilia Romagna, which is available on Amazon. In addition to being a culinary travel guide to the region, it walks through how many of the typical Italian food products are made, like mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmigiano Reggiano.