What to pack for Italy?

I've been to Italy multiple times now as a tourist. Sometimes in the Summer, the Fall, the Spring. One of the biggest questions we get from our retreat goers is how to pack for Italy?  Packing light on trips is my standard MO. Even with Global Entry, there's lines all over the place and I hate carrying all that gear through the airport. After years of traveling, I also discovered I didn't use half of the things I brought and never had enough luggage to carry back all that wine and cheese. Below are all of my essentials when packing to Italy.  

Essential gear


When traveling for pleasure, I bring a carry on suitcase, regardless of how long I'm gone for. If you follow this packing list and plan on doing a little laundry; you can travel freer and give yourself some breathing room in case you want to take a bag or 2 of wine home. 


My backpack carries all of my essentials for the plane and when I'm on short day trips. I love the new ones where you don't need to rip apart your bag trying to pull out your laptop. 

Foldable Duffle Bag

This is my backup plan, mainly for souvenirs....and by souvenirs I mean cheese, wine, and olive oil. A bag that fits easily into the outside of my carryon let's me have a second option for luggage if I run out of space. Even if you opt to have a larger suitcase, I still recommend keeping one of these.  Nothings worse than being at the airport only to discover you have gone over the weight limit.


Yes, absolutely on my essentials. I love Wineskins, their bubble wrapped goodness lets me take wine home cheaply and I can keep my prize positions close to my heart or at least my plane. Wine Skins can easily be ordered on Amazon.

Tide Packets

My key in packing light is typically bringing less clothes doing laundry more often. Typically, I won't do a whole load unless I'm in a place with a laundry machine but doing a hand wash in the sink if I run out of clothes is a lot more desirable than lugging around 50 pounds with me.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Standard for any trip, you never want to get dehydrated. I'm loving in airports now that you see filtered water stations. I carry mine on the outside of my backpack (empty before going through airport security) 

Laundry Bag

Keeping your dirty stuff dirty and your clean stuff fresh.



Why a Kindle when  have a tablet? I love the long reading hours of the Kindle. Right before I travel, I make sure to download a bunch of my favorite books in the library for the long plane ride or simlpy to enjoy a book when I relax with a glass of wine at an enoteca..

Information saved to the device of my smart phone

Not a cloud or an email but an actual copy stored in the hard drive of my phone to make sure  can access without the use of the internet. I typically save all of my hotel itineraries, flight information, credit card information, passport and credit card copies, and downloadable maps of the area.

Tablet with movies downloaded

I used to find no need to bring a tablet and just brought my smartphone when traveling abroad. I didn't feel a need to be online when there was so much to enjoy in Italy. Typically, I love inflight entertainment on international flights...except when there is none. One my last international trip there was no inflight entertainment for 8 hours. It makes me wonder how international travel used to be until all this technology became available. Now I always bring a tablet and download movies in advance....and for the non techies out there...actually download the movies...Netflix and Hulu require the internet to work.

Battery Pack

Its inevitable, especially since I'm not paying attention to the charges of my electronic devices since I barely use them that they runs of juice in Italy. More often than not, a battery charged has helped me out when I needed to access the a device because I was lost or needed to access a hotel reservation or phone number.

Power convertor

Your US plugs won't work in Italy. Get a convertor.

To be pretty and clean

Make up Palette

With suitcase space in such short supply, I opt to bring make up palette versus an entire makeup kit. It saves space and there's plenty of options. I keep this is my backpack as well so I don't look like Death Becomes Her when I get off of the plane.


Gotta have great skin in Italy. Another backpack keeper.


Don't want to be smelly. I carry this in my backpack to freshen up on the plane. 

Tooth brush

Everyone wants clean teeth. Backpack keeper.

Toothbrush holder

No one wants weird crumbs from their suitcase in their teeth.

Travel toothpaste

Perhaps this is all in my head but I like carrying a few travel ones so I can discard the tubes as I go. I keep one in my backpack.

Black Leggings

Great for exercise or a classic look


I bring plenty of underwear and I put 2 sets in my bag pack in case my luggage gets lost. Especially with the high amount of luggage that will just go missing for a few days in Italy, you'll want a clean pair with you.

2 Dresses

One short, one long that you can dress up or down


I hear its faux pa to wear shorts in Italy. I've never noticed but I usually end up wearing something nicer around the cities and wineries and the shorts for hiking. That being said, there's so many tourists wearing shorts  that it's not a problem if you opt for comfort.


1 pair. That's it. Sometimes I nix the jeans and just bring two pairs of leggings, they are lighter.

3 shirts

Depending on the time of year, I bring basic tees or long sleeves that won't standout too much when I take pictures then dress them up or down with accessories. When packing for Italy in March through May,  I bring long sleeves and short sleeves.  When packing in June or the summer months, I opt for tanks and short sleeves. Packing for Italy in September and October I opt for long sleeves.  


Self explanatory.

Colorful Scarf

One or two brightly colored scarves can really dress up my monochrome outfits and also keeps me warm.

Hiking shoes

I like to hike but I like them doing the city tours too if I will be on my feet all day. Sure I look like a tourist but with the stone streets I'd rather be comfortable and not worry about my feet aching.

Fancy Flats or Sandals

The Italian have a tendency to dress nicer on regular occasions. As a Florida girl, I typically wear flip flops everywhere but when in Rome....

Flip Flops

Only for around my hotel or the beach. I've noticed people look at my feet funny in the more local towns.

Light cardigan

Than you can dress up or down


I usually wear this on the plane to save space.

Optional Items

You'll notice there's a few things I just don't bother on. A blow dryer (most places have them) or a flat iron. Personally when I'm traveling I take the opportunity to let my hair go a bit. However, if you have an absolute need, make sure you get one that has the right power supply. Almost anytime I ever used a power convertor on a hair product the convertor busted. 

If you do actually check you luggage, there are a few things I like to bring that are not essentials but have definitely been helpful in the past.

This is on my list. If you've been to Italy before what else do you recommend?

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