We had so much fun exploring Italy on a recent trip to Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast. My husband Philip and I traveled with two couples that are close friends of ours. We were part of a larger Rick Steves tour group of about 25 people. We had anticipated this trip for several months, and even though most of the planning was taken care of by our tour guides, the question still remained, what are we going to wear in Italy??
our packing strategy
My friends Rene, Wendy and myself really put our heads together to come up with our style strategy. We normally have a very casual lifestyle, so we were so excited to wear sundresses almost every day on our trip! These factors influenced our fashion choices: we were committed to packing in a carry-on suitcase, we had to cover our knees and shoulders when touring churches, we knew we had to pack for hot weather, and comfortable shoes were a must for touring around. Other than these factors, we didn’t know what to fully expect from our tour and the cities we were visiting. The following chronicles my “hits and misses” in what I packed on this amazing trip to Italy!
My shoe choices: I packed Mephisto “Helen” sandals in a neutral metallic color (neutral metallics go with everything!), Cole Haan white sneakers, Vince Camuto woven pointy toe mules, and Madewell ankle wrap sandals. My Mephisto sandals and my sneakers were what I wore during the hours of walking tours. We logged anywhere from 5 to 10 miles of walking a day, and these shoes were cute with my outfits and comfortable! I was thankful I threw in the mules and wrap sandals last minute, because I ended up needing them to elevate my outfits for the evening. (more on that later)
Shop my travel shoes:
Harper Cross Body Travel Purse: Wendy, Rene and I all bought this same travel purse in different colors. It’s a cute shape with a tassel, and it holds a phone, passport, credit cards, sunglasses and a lipstick! It even held our tour listening devices so we didn’t look quite so touristy!
Day Outfits: I was happy, for the most part, with the day outfits I packed for touring around. My midi skirts were cute and appropriate for when we toured churches, I liked my sundresses, and I also packed skirts and tops to mix and match. These day outfits were especially perfect in Venice, Sorrento and on the Amalfi Coast. These areas feel more like people are on a holiday, and my clothes had more of a vacation getaway vibe.
misses (or how I’ll pack differently next time):
The impact of the heat: While in Italy, we had temperatures in the high 90’s with high humidity. We were leaving the Seattle area where our temperatures were still in the 60’s and 70’s, so it was hard to realize how the heat would affect our outfits. I originally pictured us being with our tour group and not necessarily having a chance to change clothes before dinner. I pictured wearing my day dresses out to dinner or dressing them up a bit for the evening.
It turned out that we HAD to change clothes because we completely sweat through them! Especially in Florence and Rome, the women are so stylish and sophisticated, we felt under dressed at night. We were kicking ourselves for not packing fancier evening outfits! It was a dreaded fashion missed opportunity. Like Tim Gunn says, we had to “make it work.” We pieced together night out outfits from what we brought to wear during the day. We looked fine, but what we came up with wasn’t what we would’ve worn if we had planned date night outfits beforehand. Bummer!
I did discover a fun store called Twinset and bought a floral maxi dress to wear out in the evening. I love it, and I was able to wear it out in Rome and Sorrento. This pretty maxi dress really saved the day!
This Twinset maxi dress was so fun to wear out at night! My sweaty day outfits were getting tiresome!
The culture of each city: Next time I go to Italy, I’ll have a better idea of how to dress in the different cities. In general, the Italian women are much more dressed up and stylish that what we see in the Pacific Northwest. What I packed tended to fit in more in Venice, Sorrento and on the Amalfi Coast. My sundresses, romper and skirts were more along the lines of these destinations with water where people are relaxing on vacation (think California, Florida or Hawaii).
Florence and Rome are definitely bustling cities where you would want to dress as if you’re visiting a city like New York. Knowing this, I wish I would have brought a dressier (but still comfortable) flat shoe. The Italian women were wearing stylish, dressy flat sandals everywhere. Flats are a must because of the uneven cobblestone streets and amount of walking one has to do in the city. I also wished I would’ve packed more sophisticated dresses and/or a cool jumpsuit for the warm summer nights going out to dinner and walking around the city.
In conclusion, leave your casual shorts/t-shirts/tanks at home and pack your sundresses for day and dressier outfits for night. Pack a variety of flats – more casual sandals/sneakers for day, and an elevated sandal for night. Even though I had a few fashion regrets, I had the time of my life in Italy! My purpose in writing this is to share my “hits and misses” and help you pack in order to be your stylish best self while visiting Italy in the summer. Julie is planning a trip to Italy in September. You better believe I’ll be helping her plan her outfits! Hope this helps!