What to wear in Italy – A polite traveler will do a little research before packing to make sure they are not going to stick out like a tourist nor offend their host country. I’ve found if you look nice and fit in with the locals in Italy, you’re more likely to receive better service and find people who gladly offer help if needed. (It also helps to learn to say a few basic phrases in their language. They appreciate it and will be glad to help you learn).
This time in Italy, I found that not everyone, but many, many tourists and local ladies wore casual, comfortable and cool dresses and skirts, which of course, thrilled me because I’ve always thought dresses are more comfortable and put-together than shorts.
If you saw anyone in shorts and T-shirts, they were most likely young backpack travelers or American tourists. Few Italians wear shorts. Even in the summer, long pants for most men and pants, skirts and dresses for the ladies.
Yet another reason to leave the shorts and tank tops at home . . . if you want to enter a church, you’ll have to purchase an itchy, paper, “dress of shame” to cover yourself. Once again, a minute of research would have let these women know they were expected to be covered when in a church. (you can take a little wrap or scarf with you to tie around your shoulders!) It’s all about respecting the country, their beliefs and traditions. Do I need to say it? “When in Rome . . .”
It was June and we were in the Northern part of the country. The temperatures were cool enough I wore a sweater or wrap in the mornings and evenings. A heat wave swept the area the last three days we were there, and although it was VERY hot, it was still not what we call hot in South Alabama! Our Southern summers prepared me, so I survived.
When we were in Italy several years ago in the winter, the ladies mainly wore nice pants or sweater dresses and low heeled boots. This photo was taken in January in Rome. I wore these boots out doing so much walking but they were so very warm and comfortable.
This orange striped dress (above) got the most wear because it was so comfortable. I’d wash it out and like the locals, hang it out on a line to dry, (so remember to pack easy to wash fabrics) because no one has dryers in the ancient buildings. Internet — spotty, but dryers — nope. Bob got so tired of seeing it, he insisted (ha!) I buy a great new linen dress on Burano, made by the woman who sold it to us. I’m wearing the new dress below, in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo.
The front can unbutton to knee length so it was breezy and very cool. Even Italian women stopped me to say how much they liked it. I think I’ll wear it every day of my life now.
I wore shorts the day we hiked in Cinque Terre, but that was a much more casual area and everyone was hiking and swimming. The few pairs of pants I packed seemed too hot and didn’t get much wear. Skirts and dresses with comfortable sandals or sneakers were the way to go. Hardly anyone wore flip-flops and spiked heels would be a death trap on their cobblestone roads.
And what did the men wear? Well, the tourists wore shorts and pants, but the locals mainly wore long pants and added a summer weight blazer in the evenings. And my man?
Be still my heart.
looking for more inspiration for your trip to Italy? Check out my Italy Pinterest Board.