After booking flights, applying for visas and planning itineraries, what to pack for Italy is probably the last item on your to-do list. If you’re from a non-European climate, it can be easy to arrive completely unprepared. Never fear! We’ve got you. Here’s what to pack for Italy in the winter.
Winter Weather in Italy
As much as Italy has, in general, a Mediterranean climate, the weather does change from north to south. The North has a much harsher climate, with severely cold winters and intense, humid summers. As you move toward the centre the climate becomes milder. In the South, including the islands, the winters are far warmer. So, depending on where you’re travelling to, you’ll need to pack accordingly. The list below applies to all climates, and will save you a lot of hassle!
Layers Are Everything
If it’s your first winter in Italy, the constant fluctuation in temperature between indoors and outdoors is a bit of a shock to the system. Interiors are well-heated, and so keeping your winter kit on indoors becomes very uncomfortable. At the same time, it’s not quite warm enough to strip down into a tank top! Layers are the name of the game. Pack a range of light, long sleeve shirts, light cardigans, warm sweaters and possibly some thermal underwear if you’re planning to ski or visit mountain peaks. If you want to fit in with the locals, go for tailored clothing that isn’t too revealing. Italian fashion is based on the principle of less is more.
One Decent Coat
Looking good is important, but let’s not forget that for the majority of the time you’ll be wandering around outdoors wearing a coat that will cover your outfit. Don’t overdo it! A decent coat is one of the most important things you can invest in for Europe. Make sure you wear something durable, easy to manoeuvre in, and ideally waterproof. The great thing about European fashion is that such coats are readily available in the latest fashions, so it’s not hard to be comfortable and look good at the same time. If you’re planning to play in the snow, a high-quality ski-jacket is non-negotiable.
The Right Shoes
This one is super important! You really only need two pairs. Pack a good pair of waterproof boots, be they ankle-cut or knee-high. Lose the heel, too as this won’t help you on slippery and uncomfortable cobble-stone roads. Your second pair should be a decent pair of walking shoes. Italians love Superga sneakers, but your Converse or Vans will also do the trick. Basically, anything that facilitates kilometres of walking without blisters.
All the Accessories!
Bit the bullet and fork out for a decent scarf, hat and pair of gloves. Trust us, nothing ruins your day like damp hair, cold fingers, and wind that creeps under your coat when you’re trying to appreciate the most beautiful country on earth! Many women also wear a pair of tights under their jeans for extra warmth without the bulkiness. Perhaps most importantly of all – warm socks! Easy to forget, but horrible to go without! You may also want to include some moisturiser, as the winter climate can be harsh on the skin.
What to Pack for Italy: Ski Holidays
Here, you’ll want to go all out. You can rent ski suits etc. from many resorts. This may be a good option if you’re not sure when next you’ll be on the slopes. You’ll want to have packed the thermal underwear and layers we mentioned above for under your suit. You’d be better off staying away from anything cotton, though. It absorbs sweat and in the snow, this can make you very cold. The accessories we mentioned will be a lifesaver. You’ll also want to have a decent pair of sunglasses and a good lip balm. Even when the sun’s not out, the UV reflection from the snow can be harsh and damaging.
Planning on a winter holiday in Italy? Check out our article on skiing in the Dolomites!