Cultural Experience | Florence

How To Pack for an Italian Weekend Adventure

Ancient beauty awaits you around every cobblestone corner

Glance out the tiny oval window as your plane begins its descent and you’ll already see why Italy is such a beloved destination among travelers. From the idyllic rolling hills of Tuscany to the picturesque colorful landscape of Cinque Terre, beauty and history can be found in every corner of the boot-shaped peninsula, and spending just a few days there will leave you wanting to experience it even more. But before you fall in love with the ancient cobblestone streets, romantic open-air cafés and delectable pasta, you’ll want to make sure that these essentials are in your carry-on so you can guarantee the easiest trip possible.

For reference, I’m basing this list off of a trip I took to Florence, Rome and Pisa in late spring/early summer 2013 on a long weekend during study abroad. If you’ve traveled to another Italian city or visited during a different time of year, be sure to comment and share what you brought along.

 

Good, sturdy shoes

I can’t stress this one enough because I learned it the hard way. Thinking I was being efficient and saving room in my carry-on, I brought only one pair of shoes to Italy with me: the strappy little sandals that were on my feet when I left Germany. The first day wasn’t so bad, but after spending a sunny Saturday walking around Rome for 12 hours in my cute but impractical shoes, I collapsed into my seat for the three-hour train journey to Florence convinced that my feet were going to fall off.

Italy is absolutely stunning and, weather permitting, you’re going to want to walk everywhere in order to see and experience as much as possible. If you’re only going to take one pair of shoes with you for the weekend, try to find something that’s both practical and stylish (the Italians are known for their impeccable fashion sense, and you don’t want to stand out by looking like a tourist!). It’s easier said than done but is absolutely worth the extra effort.  try these casual Superga.

pisa italy beach travel image

At the beach in Pisa wearing the offending shoes.

A jacket, scarf or other covering

Even if you’re not religious, there’s a chance that you may be visiting at least one Roman Catholic church, chapel or religious site, especially in Rome, and it’s important to dress appropriately as a sign of respect. I was raised Catholic and seeing the Vatican was important to me, so I brought my favorite purple leather jacket along with me to Rome even though the temperature was around 80o F that day. To be on the safe side, make sure your shoulders are covered as soon as you step into St. Peter’s Square, and dresses and shorts should follow the “fingertip-length” rule. If what you’re wearing is too short, do what my friend Emily did and buy an inexpensive scarf, then tie it around your waist as a makeshift skirt.

Besides being respectful in certain religious locations, a jacket can also come in handy if you’re near the coast, where it tends to get pretty chilly. Either way, you’ll be happy you brought it along.

rome italy travel image

That jacket oh-so-stylishly tied around my waist would be useful later in the day.

 

Stylish purse with cross-body strap

After one of the girls I was traveling with came just a split second away from being pickpocketed in Rome, I understood the importance of a secure bag. Fortunately for us ladies, there are tons of stylish yet safe options for keeping your belongings secure while exploring major tourist cities. Try to find one in a neutral color that will go with lots of different outfits and carry it with the zipper or opening as close to you as possible.  Great styles found here.

leaning tower of pisa italy image

Cross-body bags: a must for any tourist-frequented stop.

 

Cheap umbrella

The weather can and most likely will catch you by surprise. We experienced a light rain shower our first night in Florence, even though there wasn’t anything showing up on the radar. Keep an inexpensive compact umbrella in your purse or backpack just in case, and you won’t have to worry about shelling out a ridiculous amount of euros to buy one from a street vendor should you need it.

Italian electrical adapters

If you’re coming from almost any other European country, don’t bother bringing your adapters. Italy is the only country in Europe to use a triple-pronged outlet, so you’ll need a type L adapter.

Bug spray

This is another item I neglected to pack that I wish I had. If you’re traveling in the spring or summer, the mosquitoes can be brutal – particularly in cities like Florence, which is located on the Arno River. Get a small bottle of bug spray that can fit in your purse – you’ll thank yourself later.

With these six items, a little patience and an incurable case of wanderlust, you’ll be ready to experience the Italian adventure of a lifetime. Buon viaggio!

Lindsey Zimmerman

Ohio University | 18 stories

Lindsey Zimmerman is a senior public relations major from Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from Ohio University this spring, she'll be spending the summer interning in Cleveland before moving to Spain in the fall to work as an English teacher. She studied abroad in Leipzig, Germany in 2013. When she's not planning her next adventure, she enjoys reading, writing, cooking, learning new languages and spending time with her friends and family. Above all, she believes life is too short to speak just one language and stay in the same place. Follow Lindsey on Twitter @lindseyzim716.


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