What’s the first thing that goes into your suitcase when preparing for a holiday in Italy? Your swimsuit? Your passport? Your phrasebook? For me it’s always my snorkel, unless I’m going to the mountains, of course! But wherever you’re off to in Italy there are a few basics that should always be in your suitcase. Here are my suggestions for what to pack for Italy to make sure you have a stress free trip. Leave me a comment if I’ve missed anything off and happy holidays!! Buona vacanza!!
Italians are superbly cool sunglasses wearers so follow their lead and protect your eyes from the sunshine’s glare.
2. Suncream / Sunscreen
Italy is summer is hot, hot, hot so the need to cover up with a strong SPF is imperative to avoid sun-damage and burning. Italians spend their lunch indoors to avoid the height of the sun’s rays so follow their lead with a long lunch or family siesta and for all other times cover up with suncream or sunscreen!
If you’re going to be out in the sunshine for a lot of the day, whether on the beach or sightseeing then a hat can be a welcome addition to keep the rays off your face and to keep you cooler.
4. Insect repellent
If you’re particularly tasty or susceptible to mozzies, bring insect repellant, especially for the summer evenings as whilst Italy is not a malarial area, it does still have mosquitoes that pack quite a bite (as I know to my cost!) Note : You can also buy mozzie plugs in most supermarkets that help keep the little buggers away indoors.
5. A sarong or large scarf
Italy is a religious country and requires respect and modesty from visitors to its churches so if you want to see inside most religious buildings you’ll need to cover up. You won’t be allowed entry to many churches, including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome or St Mark’s in Venice if you’re bare-shouldered or wearing a vest top, shorts, mini-skirt, crop top or, in some cases, cropped trousers for men. But when its 35’C outside, you don’t want to be wearing long sleeved shirts, trousers or long skirts so the easiest way to be respectful is to carry a sarong or large scarf that you can either wrap around your shoulders or use as a skirt to cover your legs or knees. Easy-peasy!
6. A folding umbrella
OK, so chances are you’re off to Italy to enjoy the Mediterranean sun so an umbrella might seem like a strange suggestion but bear with me on this one! Italian summers are hot, it’s true, but with the heat come the occasional, most almighty thunderstorms so a small, folding umbrella in the bottom of your handbag or backpack might just save you from a sudden downpour. You can also usually buy plastic ponchos in many of the big tourist spots like Venice, Florence or Rome if you need them! Alternatively, an umbrella makes a great parasol to shade you or small children from the sun’s power if it gets too much.
7. Comfortable shoes
If you, like me, like to explore Italy you’ll be lots of walking so a comfortable pair of shoes is essential. I’m not suggesting walking shoes, just a pair that you can walk in all day without getting blisters. Personally I wear cushioned Birkenstock flip-flops (also known as thongs in Australia) as they keep my feet cool and comfortable and I’m sure you have your own favourites – leave me a comment with your suggestions!
If you’re a parent you probably carry a pack of tissues everywhere as standard, but if not I recommend you take a couple for Italy in case you get caught short as not all bathrooms or toilets are fully stocked (unless you’ve managed to find one of the rare public loos in Italy!)
Similarly wipes are a big favourite with many parents who never leave the house without a pack in their bag. Personally I carry Milton Antibacterial Wipes for surfaces like fold-down plane trays or toilet seats etc as they kill 99.9% of germs and are 100% biodegradable.
Italian plug sockets are generally 2 pin affairs that differ from the UK and USA formats so don’t forget your adaptors so you can keep your phones, cameras and gadgets charged. An adaptor with one or two USB ports saves on plugs allowing you to charge 2 or 3 things off one socket so think clever! Note : Even with an adaptor, though, some appliances may not work as the Italian voltage is 220V rather than 240V in other territories.
11. A plastic bag
Smart travellers always pack one at the bottom of their bag as they can come in so handy for anything from carrying the freshest fruit and veg ever from the cute little market you fell over to keeping your dirty laundry separate or to packing your dirty shoes. Personally I always have a couple in my bag and always find a use for them.
12. A simple first aid kit
Italy isn’t the end of the earth so pharmacies are easily accessible but I prefer to have a supply of Band Aids, antiseptic cream, anti-diarrhoea tablets, headache tablets, scissors and tweezers on hand just for emergencies as I have a well-known tendency of falling over and no-one enjoys an upset tum when travelling!
13. Travel-sized or partially filled toiletries
Anything that saves on the weight of my luggage gets my vote so I never travel with full, full-size bottles unless I’m going for more than a month. Travel toiletries, or even the little bottles from your last hotel stay, are perfect for short breaks. And even for a fornight’s vacation its unlikely you’ll get through a full-sized bottle of shampoo unless you’re all using the same one so just take what you’ll need and then recycle the empty bottles in Italy, saving you more room for presents on the return leg! You can always buy more in Italy if you need it!
If you need peace and quiet to sleep, bring some earplugs as whilst most cities are quiet overnight, they may still be noisier than you’re used to. They’re useful on flights too but I wouldn’t use them on trains just so you don’t miss your stop!
15. Guidebook, phrasebook & map apps
There is a plethora of guidebook and map applications for phones and tablets these days so its hardly necessary to carry a big, heavy, paper guidebook around anymore. Many are specific to a city or region so do some research before you leave home, pick one that can be viewed offline without the need for expensive overseas WiFi and download it before you hit the airport. Alternatively – and I apologise to all the book lovers out there for this sacrilegious suggestion – only take the pages from the guidebook that you need so you cut down on weight.
And finally….one last suggestion for what to pack for Italy
If you want to avoid having to carry a phrasebook check out some of my Italian 101 essential phrases including how to say hello, how to say please and thank you, do you speak English and how to ask where is the toilet in Italian?! If there are any phrases you’d like me to add to my list, leave me a comment with a request!! Happy travels!
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