What could be more wonderful than an Italian vacation at the height of summer? Whether you are touring the countryside or exploring city pleasures, Italy under the summer sun warms both body and soul.
Since most hot-weather American vacation locales involve visiting a resort or beach, packing for summer travel in Italy presents a unique challenge. Here are some tips to make your packing more successful.
- Think urban chic. While you are on vacation, most of the people around you are living ordinary working city lives. Visiting Rome or Florence more resembles visiting New York or Chicago than a trip to a resort. Major Italian cities further stand as fashion capitals for apparel, accessories and interior design throughout the world. Think subdued colors, good workmanship and classic lines when choosing clothes to tour Milan, Verona and even seemingly-more relaxed Venice. For Italian women, a great cut of wearable fabric takes precedence over loud colors, blaring patterns and anything bling.
- Think natural fibers. Clothes made in Italy provide critical clues to surviving summer temperatures that can reach into the 90s. Cotton and linen breathe as synthetics do not, letting the body dissipate excess heat. Look for wrinkle-resistant lightweight natural fabrics or blends where natural materials take the lead. Modern, breathable finishes let you wear linen without looking as though you need to be rescued by a white knight carrying a steam iron.
- Forget shorts, for both men and women, unless you are at a resort or the beach. Skirts and slacks are the order of the day. The many religious sites and buildings you will encounter ask that you show respect by covering shoulders and other exposed skin. Women should be prepared with a scarf or other head-covering as well. Tight or provocative clothing is frowned on, and shorts are regarded as suitable for playing sports only. Carrying a light jacket, sweater or scarf wrap shows both common sense and courtesy.
- Plan a controlled palette. Filling your closet with a bouquet of summer colors is lots of fun, but your luggage needs to stay under control. The best way is to concentrate your travel wardrobe around one or two neutrals, darks and lights, and this is an especially good strategy if you are spending most of your time in Italian urban settings. The black/sand or navy/cream combos that get you smoothly through a work week translate beautifully into summer travel clothes. Small touches of color—a brilliant bangle or two, a crazy-mad print cami, and a summer-pastel shawl or scarf wrap—keep the palette from being dull and let you feel both confident and comfortable. Add a couple of print or pastel tops or skirts if your trip takes you into the countryside as well.
- Accessorize locally. One way to simplify packing is to plan a brief shopping treat. Save room in your suitcase—and your schedule–for a locally-made straw hat, shawl, scarf or this-minute piece of costume jewelry. Having a local errand to run lets you enjoy the town you are visiting as its residents do. The profusion of beautiful Italian leather goods available even in tourist-oriented towns is another fashion-rich source for traveling shoppers: a gorgeous clutch bag, a finely-made wallet or a leather key case may fit perfectly into your stock of use-it-now-treasure-it-forever accessories.
- Tote but don’t haul. A sure mark of tourist status is a bulging backpack, especially when carried in a non-sporting setting. Especially in a country known for its abundance of exquisite leather goods, buy the kind of stylish leather tote that elegant local women favor. You’ll have enough room for valuables and look as though you belong in your surroundings. Who knows—a backpack-toting tourist may ask you for directions!