What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June through August): Packing List

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List

Summer in Italy is such a dreamy affair. On the coast, uniform umbrellas dot the sandy shores. Pastel pink and yellow buildings sit perched against rocky cliffsides overlooking the water below. And waterfront cafes seem perpetually packed with Italy’s most beautiful people sipping aperol spritzes and watching the world go by. In the big cities, like Rome and Florence, the summer days are best spent museum-hopping, chowing down on gelato, and ducking into every other portico for an escape from the intense heat – all while somehow managing to look glamorous while sweating through your sundress. Though Italian summers can get pretty hot, there’s still something so magical about the idea of gelato and vespas and pizza that make even I wish I was back in Sorrento right now, even though it’s the middle of June.



I lived in Florence for 7 months when I was in college, and during that time I developed a sincere respect for the way Italians present themselves. No matter whether it’s frigid or sweltering outside, you can bet that Italians will step outside looking effortlessly presentable. Recently, I visited Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Sorrento, Capri, and Rome, and even though it’s been years since I’ve been to Italy, I can still safely say that the Italian approach and sensibility when it comes to fashion hasn’t changed. If you’re planning a trip to Italy this summer, take a tip from the locals and pay special attention to what you pack. Of course, comfort is key and you should prioritize things that you can walk for long stretches of time in (because you’ll definitely be doing a ton of walking). But a trip to Italy is also the perfect opportunity to make a statement, dress to impress, and have fun with your wardrobe along the way. When in Rome!

See All Europe Posts

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List

Here is a general guideline of what you should pack on your summer vacation in Italy:

1. Summer Dresses & Jumpsuits

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
IMG_20190608_171345.JPG

Especially in Italy’s coastal towns like Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast, light, elegant summer dresses are key. For the biggest range, pack dresses you can wear with sneakers for sight-seeing during the day, and then swap out for heels or fun sandals to go out in at night. Also, keep in mind that anything cotton, linen, seersucker, rayon, or silk will be your best friend for the summer season.  

2. Beachwear

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List

Beach club culture (called bagni or stabilimenti) in Italy is fierce. On almost every beach, you’re bound to come across at least one cluster of perfectly aligned beach chairs and umbrellas, which you can rent for the day. These setups are usually in pretty high demand in the summer, so reserve them in advance when you can, or get to the beach early! In general, the Italian sense of style typically extends to the beach, where you’ll often find most locals wearing fitted suits, chic cover-ups, and cute sandals. Bikinis are really popular in Italy, but a bright one-piece is also a great option to stand out in a good way. Whatever you do, make sure your sandals are fairly comfortable, because many beaches in Italy involve tons of stairs to access.

3. Religious Attire

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
IMG_20190608_135906.JPG

Odds are you’ll visit at least one church or religious place while you’re in Italy. To do that, you should absolutely pack at least one outfit that covers your shoulders and extends past your knees as a courtesy, even if you aren’t religious. For most places, this isn’t enforced, and it’s really just to pay respect to the holy spaces and the people around you who might be worshipping. However, some places like the Vatican actually require covered shoulders and knees. If you enter the Sistine Chapel with your shoulders exposed, you will be forced by the Chapel guards to wear a pretty sad-looking disposable cover-up that looks a bit like a hospital gown. Best to avoid the socially awkward encounter altogether and just come prepared, in my opinion!

If you have a lot of sleeveless outfits in your suitcase, you can do what I did and simply drape a scarf or shawl over your shoulders while you’re visiting. Works like a charm, and you can easily remove the scarf once you’re back outside in the sunshine.

4. Sightseeing Looks

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
IMG_20190605_164131_1_2.JPG

Since the heat will likely be fierce, you’ll want to stick to clothes that are as light as humanly possible for a day spent sightseeing and strolling around outdoors. Light dresses, shorts, skirts, and roomy blouses will be your best friends. Light denim and culottes are great choices for when you don’t want to wear shorts, too. Complete your casual, light-as-air sightseeing looks with simple finishing touches like a sunhat or a hair scarf and you’ll look chic and well-prepared rather than dehydrated and melting (in all of the photos above, I promise you, I was very, very hot).

5. Evening Outfits

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List
IMG_20190605_192913_1_1.JPG
Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List

If you plan to go out to bars in Italy, you can get away with dressing fairly casually. Dark-wash denim, a nice blouse, and some sandals or chunky heels with a leather jacket will easily do the trick. On the flip side, if you plan to head to a club, especially in a bigger city like Florence or Milan, you can expect to dress up a bit. Bring at least one fun evening dress and one or two casual night out ensembles to cover all your bases here.

Shoes

The only shoes you need to pack for a trip to Italy in the summer are:

  • Running shoes or trainers

  • Comfortable white sneakers (the kind you can wear with anything from jeans to a dress)

  • Sandals and/or slides

  • Chunky Heeled Sandals or Booties

In Italy and most parts of Europe, comfortable footwear is the biggest and most important rule to heed when it comes to figuring out what to pack. Anything you own that you are unable to walk comfortably in for less than 5 hours should stay home, because you’ll be navigating everything from cobblestone sidewalks to uneven steps to hotels and apartment buildings without elevators. Also, leave your flip-flops at home, as these are generally avoided and will make you stand out as a tourist.

Accessories

During the summer months, accessories will play a huge role in putting your Italian wardrobe together, as you won’t get to rely on layers to elevate or add dimension to your outfit. A variety of hats, belts, scarves/neckerchiefs, and sunglasses will help you vary your outfits without taking up a ton of extra space in your suitcase.

The Italy Summer Vacation Wardrobe Packing List

Rachel Off Duty: What to Wear on a Summer Vacation in Italy (June - August): Packing List

Clothes:

  • Lightweight summer dresses (short, midi, and maxi)

  • Something with covered shoulders that extends past the knee (for religious spaces)

  • Evening (going out) attire

  • Evening (formal or event) attire

  • Blue or dark-wash jeans

  • Shorts

  • Skirts

  • Leather jacket

  • Denim jacket

  • Cardigan

  • Blouses and tank tops

  • Bikinis and/or colorful one-piece suits

  • Sarongs or chic beach coverup (like a shirtdress or wrap dress)

Shoes:

  • Running shoes or trainers

  • Comfortable white sneakers (the kind you can wear with anything from jeans to a dress)

  • Sandals and/or slides

  • Chunky Heeled Sandals or Booties

Accessories:

  • Sun hat

  • Headband

  • Thin neckerchief (to wear on your neck, use as a belt, or even tie on your purse for a pop of color)

  • Scarf

  • Belts

  • Multiple pairs of sunglasses

  • Purses of varying sizes (1 big enough to hold all of your daytime essentials, 1 small clutch or crossbody to go out at night with, and 1 fun statement or beach bag)

  • Mini backpack

  • Jewelry (I brought 2 necklaces, 5 pairs of earrings, and 3 bracelets)

There you have it – everything I recommend packing for a summer vacation to Italy, after living through it myself. I can definitely promise you that it’s crazy hot in Italy in the summer. But, by whatever magical powers that be, Italians still manage to look as beautiful as ever. I hope this list helps you feel confident in packing the essentials you need for a comfortable, chic holiday abroad.

Was there anything I missed? Let me know below!

#OffDutyDestination

 

More From Europe: