What to wear in Italy

July 15, 2019


What to wear in Italy - casual dresses are the new cool and easy way to travel. - leslieannetarabella.com

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).

What to wear in Italy. Casual comfortable dresses are the new way to pack and travel in Italy during the summer. leslieannetarabella.com

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.

In Florence. Photo by The Sartorialist.

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.

Paper dresses to cover up shorts and tank tops in Italian churches. What to wear in Italy. Casual comfortable dresses are the new way to pack and travel in Italy during the summer. leslieannetarabella.com

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 . . .”

Bike riding in Forte dei Marmi Italy. What to wear in Italy. - leslieannetarabella.com
I picked up this breezy dress in the market in Forte dei Marmi. It was a steal at 10 Euros – or around $11 US dollars. Pure linen made in Italy.

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.

What to wear in Italy - winter sweater dresses and low heeled boots. Comfortable and stylish. leslieannetarabella.com

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.

What to wear in Italy - casual comfortable lightweight dresses are what smart travelers pack. leslieannetarabella.com
Saying Buongiorno to the taxi driver picking us up.

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.

Strolling in the Piazza in Milan. What to wear in Italy - Casual comfortable dresses are the new way to pack and travel in Italy during the summer. leslieannetarabella.com

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.

What to wear in Italy. - leslieannetarabella.com

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.

What to wear in Italy. - leslieannetarabella.com
When your husband is a photographer, you can remember exactly what you wore! You can see I had my sweater or wrap with me for chilly times. The headband also doubled as a belt.

Spinning on the bull in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan Italy. What to wear - leslieannetarabella.com
Ladies spinning on the bull in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.

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?

What to wear in Italy - leslieannetarabella.com

Be still my heart.


looking for more inspiration for your trip to Italy? Check out my Italy Pinterest Board.

    • Thank you my dear! Coming from the cutie on the kitchen counter, that’s high praise!

  • Wowza! You look gorgeous! And that hunk in the last photo? Another wowza!

    • I’ll second the “wowza” on that man! When he follows me around with a camera and says 500 times, “turn around and smile, turn around and smile!” I’ve learned to just throw him a little pose and it keeps him happy for a while. It’s the little things, ya’ know? Thanks Roxanne!

  • You both look adorable! Thank you for so nicely representing Americans abroad! $11 dollars for a linen dress? Wow!

    • Yes! I know! This dress is as soft as homemade ravioli and very cool linen. – I should have bought a few more. The markets are so much fun. Some are hokey, but the one in Forte dei Marmi was fantastic with cashmere, beautiful dishes, handbags . . . I just couldn’t fit it all in my suitcase! Thanks so much Dewena.

  • Ginger Taylor says:

    I shared this with “Visit Italy Community” on FB. We are planning to go next spring, so I will take your words of advice 🙂

    • You’ll have a wonderful time. I think the Spring would be a great time to visit. Let me know how it goes and thanks for sharing the post!

  • Savan Wilson says:

    Wow! You represented us so well and looked beautiful in everything! So colorful. Bob also looked like a perfect Italian male (who often dress as well or better than many Italian women). You stunning hair always looks like a shampoo commercial and you must get lots of appreciative looks. What fun you both always seem to have in Italy!

    • I can’t wait to hear about your trip! We were so close together, there at the same time. I was sure we’d run into you somewhere. As for the hair . . . you understand that even in their heat wave, there’s not much humidity at all, and that’s what it’s all about! And as for the Italian men looking nice . . . mama mia! Thanks Savan.

  • Vicki Love Baggett says:

    This is such a helpful fashion post! You are adorable…Thank you!

  • Leslieann, you could wear a gunny sack and still be beautiful. Same goes for the handsome fella with you. So glad that you had a great time.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Covering your shoulders and dressing modestly in Catholic churches is not because of the country’s custom, but out of respect for the Blessed Sacrament – something which should actually be done in any Catholic church anywhere.

    • I agree. Even in my Baptist church growing up, brides were required to cover up. Most churches have that policy in place and for people to just march into the church expecting to be an exception just amazes me. In any country, anywhere.

  • Love dresses and I think they are so cute in summer for travel, not to mention comfortable. Loved all of yours, especially the new long linen. You looked adorable on your trip. You are now the expert on Italy, guess who I’m contacting when I plan my next trip there!

    • I don’t know, I think you’ve got me beat in the passport stamp collection. I would have missed beautiful neighborhoods in Paris if you weren’t my great blog friend! I think Israel is my next destination I’d love to see and that will take a long time to plan for. Thanks Emily.

  • Gigi Hackford says:

    I … and my lifelong friend “Mrs.Manners” really appreciate your precious views …

  • Love all your clothes. My daughter was there about the same time as you. She noticed the Italians dressed more than she expected. She was so pleased it was not crowded in Florence,Lake Como, and Tuscany.

    • Thanks Bonnie. I hope your daughter had a good time. It seemed very crowded to us, but we’ve always traveled in the winter before, so I think there’s just a difference in the seasons, which makes sense. Sounds like we were in some of the same places!

  • You are so stinkin’ cute! Loved everything!

    • Thanks Beth. It doesn’t hurt that I married a man who throws out my “bad light” photos! We had a blast.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    %d bloggers like this: