This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)
Are you planning your next trip and you don’t know what to wear in Italy in summer? As a local who always struggles to pack light, I can relate: let me see if I can be of help! Summer in Italy can be quite different, according to where you want to go. Your Italy itinerary should play an important role: I’ll tell you all about it in this blog post. Together we’ll see how to dress like an Italian woman in summer, so you won’t stick out like a sore thumb, and what to pack for Italy if you’re planning to visit during the warmer months. I’ve added a few cute vacation outfits that I love and that will help you to fit in no matter what!
Summer in Italy: North vs. South
Summer in Italy can be unbearably warm or more tolerable, according to where you are going.
Northern regions are usually less warm than the Southern ones, this is the general idea. Yet there are a few exceptions. Make sure you are aware that even if you spend only one day in Milan it might be terribly hot and humid. My sister usually states that Milan isn’t less warm than Naples: it’s only way more humid.
If you want to go to the Navigli area to experience Milan nightlife (please don’t forget the Italian tipping etiquette), make sure you always bring a good bug spray and carry it at all time! Mosquitoes are a huge problem in Milan in summer… especially at Navigli!
Yet not all the Northern regions in Italy are this warm in summer. The Dolomites, Alps and Apennine mountains are always going to be fresh, even in August. Make sure you bring a light jacket or a stylish trench with you that you’ll wear at night in case it gets colder. Of course it won’t be snowy, but expect some rain!
We have had a few years of hard rain in summer on the Dolomites, then a couple of years of 30°C and no rain for weeks. Unfortunately the weather forecast is more and more unreliable!
A rule of thumbs would be to just bring a light jacket and maybe a foldable raincoat that won’t take too much space in your luggage. As a summer mountain vacation, I’m assuming you will be hiking a lot: in this case bring with you a good pair of hiking boots as a regular pair of walking shoes won’t be enough. I prefer boots to shoes because they make me feel safer, as they hug my ankles and protect me from ticks (which terrify me!).
In a nutshell: usually the Northern regions are warm, unless you’re planning a summer vacation in Italy exploring our mountains. Yet you will possibly face lots of muggy days in the big cities.
The South is way warmer if compared to the North. Be prepared to sweat a lot, but at least in the Southern regions there’s a good chance you’ll get to enjoy some time at the beach! Sicily is one of the warmest regions, with a long, scorching hot summer that you can survive only eating tons of gelato and enjoying the best beaches in Sicily.
If you are planning to visit the Amalfi Coast, I strongly suggest you follow my clothing suggestions in the next chapters. It’s not uncommon for tourists to suffer a heat stroke!
Wherever you decide to find lodging on the Amalfi Coast, make sure there’s an air conditioner or a fan. Not every hotel has a swimming pool but there are some amazing beaches on the Amalfi Coast so you won’t have to worry about the heat too much! Enjoy the warm water and some amazing sunsets, or take part to one of the summer parties on the beach at a lido!
In case you are planning to take part to one of the Amalfi Coast tours, it’s mandatory to bring a hat with you, some good sunscreen and at least a bottle of water per person. You will need it!
In a nutshell: the Southern regions are very warm. The warmer months are usually July and August. Make sure you don’t stay in the sun for too long and drink lots of water. Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen should always be on your Italy packing list if you’re visiting the South. Keep reading for some useful outfit ideas!
What to pack for Italy: city trips
I’m one of those travelers who can walk for long hours when I’m excited about the place I’m exploring. Unfortunately, I tend to realize that I’ve overdone it only when my feet start hurting. Like when I visited NYC for the first time and I wore a pair of fancy shoes the whole time: not my smartest moment, I’ll admit this much.
Always choose a pair of shoes that is meant for walking, if you’re like me and want to see a lot of things in Italy. Even if you have planned a full 4 days in Rome, there’s still so much to see and you’re bound to walk a lot.
Sandals or flats might not always be a good idea when you’re exploring an Italian city because the cobblestones make uneven surfaces. On the long run, they will hurt your feet.
If you’re not sure on what to wear in Italy in summer to explore one of the iconic Italian cities, I suggest you bring a pair of walking shoes. Add to this a pair of nice flats or sandals for the lazy afternoons spent eating gelato.
Because it will be quite warm, a good idea would be to wear natural fibre clothing (cotton, bamboo, silk, etc). Synthetic fibres are made from chemicals and will make you sweat a lot. It’s not only gross: it can be quite dangerous for your skin!
For your city trips, pack your favorite leggings and cotton t-shirts. Don’t forget to bring also something to cover your shoulders if you’re planning to visit a religious building. If you’re only planning to visit the warmer areas, you could pack a cotton scarf that you’ll drape on your shoulders if you need to. It won’t take too much space in your luggage! Of course, you can buy one when you visit. A wonderful souvenir from Italy that will always make you think of my Country!
Italian summer dresses are bright, light and usually very cute. You can use them to go to the restaurant or if you want to go out drinking. Pack at least one! According to the restaurants you want to go to, you can opt for a long dress (usually meant for a night at the theatre, or to eat at a fancy restaurant) or a shorter one.
Still undecided? How about a mid-calf dress? That will always come in handy!
What do Italians wear when hiking in summer?
Even if summer in Italy can be very hot, it doesn’t mean you can’t go hiking. I live in an area where trekking is surprisingly a big thing. In the South we have amazing trails that you can explore with a tour of the Amalfi Coast, our beautiful islands and of course, hiking on Mount Vesuvius is also one of our favorite activities.
As I already mentioned countless times, when you want to go hiking you absolutely need the right gear. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who try to hike Mt. Vesuvius in flip flops, only to get badly hurt. No need to say that this would definitely ruin your vacation!
In case you’re still in doubt on what to wear in Italy in summer, my suggestion is to write down your itinerary. If you’re planning a few hikes, pack accordingly!
A good pair of hiking boots is an absolute must if you want to go hiking in Italy. They will be very useful also if you’re planning a trip to Pompeii, because the uneven surfaces can be quite dangerous for your ankles. While I’m aware that they can be heavy and that it will be very hot, safety always comes first. Choose a good pair of hiking socks for summer treks, usually they offer the natural fibers benefits and will keep your feet dry.
We like to wear leggings or running shorts when we go hiking in summer. Maybe it’s not the Italian dress code you were expecting, but it’s not bad if you think about it. Packing for Italy shouldn’t burden you too much, especially if you’re a solo female traveler and if you’re exploring Italy by train.
Leggings or running shorts are lightweight and won’t take too much space in your luggage. You can also repurpose them for another outfit so you won’t be forced to pack too many things. Women in Italy wear yoga pants and cotton leggings all the time! Of course it’s better to wear them for an informal, quick lunch in stead than at a fancy restaurant in the evening. But don’t be worried that they wouldn’t fit the dreaded “Italian dress code” because it’s not the case.
Heck, I’ve been hiking in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine and I know how comfortable yoga pants can be!
But what do Italian people wear aside from leggings when they want to hike in summer?
Anything cotton will be perfect. The real question here is: should you be hiking in short sleeves or tank tops?
The short answer would be: it depends from how long you want to hike. And of course from the backpack you are using.
Tank tops in summer can cause chafing. Your backpack will rub against your skin. The sweat will make things worse. Yet if you’re going for a short hike with a lightweight backpack, tank tops might still be an option.
I prefer to wear sleeveless shirts with wide shoulders (so the backpack won’t rub on me since I have sensitive skin), or short sleeves. I wouldn’t wear a narrow tank top because I always prefer to have something between the pack straps and my skin.
Hiking the Italian Alps or the Apennine might be a bit different from hiking here in the South. The temperatures won’t be that high and thus cotton t-shirts will be absolutely perfect. Also it’s another item you can wash and reuse to go for a city trip.
Packing light should always be a priority, also because if you’re like me you’ll be shopping a lot in Italy!
Add the following items to your Italy packing list if you want to hike in summer:
- Hiking boots
- Summer hiking socks
- Leggings or running shorts
- Tank tops or t-shirts
How to dress in Italy to go out at night
Going out at night is definitely part of the fun when you’re on the road. We usually love to try all sorts of experiences, like we did when we explored the Waikiki nightlife, sometimes with a local. We have a friend who moved to Ireland and we spent some epic nights trying Irish ale at the best pubs in Cork.
If you’re unsure of what to wear in Italy in summer, then this might be a chapter that you will find very useful, together with the do and don’ts. Take it straight from the horse’s mouth!
Your Italy packing list should always include some cute vacation outfits. Even the more so if you’re planning to go to restaurants or clubs.
For your summer trip to Italy, pack a few cute dresses that you will be able to wear for different things.
One of the best summer vacation outfits is for example a floral midi dress with spaghetti straps like this one. It’s perfect if you want to go to a restaurant, if you want to grab drinks, if you are planning to hit the dance floor and even for a relaxing afternoon at a cafe in Naples (peefect also for Grand Caffe Gambrinus)!
Italian clothing can be expensive, but keep your eyes open for the local markets when you’re visiting. I’ve found some great deals on summer clothes while exploring the market in Florence, just to name one!
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Who said that sundresses can’t be used also for summer nights out in Italy? Choose a fun pattern and go for it! If you add a pair of nice sandals to a sundress or a wrap dress it’ll be the perfect date night outfit. If, on the contrary, you’re wearing it with flat sandals or a pair of sneakers, it’ll make a good option to explore during the day. Always mix and match to make sure you pack light!
For a date or for a night at the theatre (if you’re planning to visit Naples there are lots of theatres you can go to) you will need to be prepared.
A pencil dress or a maxi dress with statement earrings and high heel sandals will be perfect. According to your style you can also try to pull the off-the-shoulder trend, while still keeping it classy: accessories are your best friends in this case!
While I’m aware that many people don’t really know how to dress like an Italian, some really stick out like a sore thumb (read the next chapter to make sure you stay away from these outfit mistakes): wearing sneakers and a pair of workout trousers to a fancy restaurant is definitely a no-no.
So if you don’t want to wear a dress, you can definitely opt for a black pair of capri pants or skinny jeans, with an oversize blouse, a statement necklace and a cute pair of sandals. You’ll be classy without overdoing it!
Packing for Italy in summer doesn’t really have to be difficult if you have a clear idea of what you want to experience and wear multi purpose clothing.
Pubs or the less elegant restaurants for example won’t need the absolutely chic outfits you’d wear for a night at the theatre. Enjoy your night out wearing a floral summer dress, or a mini sundress with a spot on design. Or rock your capris with a embroidered tunic. Oversized shirts are perfect also for a city trip!
Of course the Amalfi Coast has its own clothing style, you’ll find more about it in the next chapters!
Italian dress code: do & don’ts (+ safety tips)
While I’m aware that not everyone wants to look like an Italian when they visit my Country, there are some things that you should be aware of now that you’re trying to decide what to wear in Italy.
It’s part of the Italian dress code, yet it’s not only that. Sometimes not knowing how to dress, even only for a summer vacation in Italy, will make you look like a rude person. Or it could completely ruin your long awaited trip.
The first and most obvious thing that comes to my mind is all the tourists trying to sneak into our religious buildings while wearing sexy shorts or naked shoulders.
It is very offensive and rude, especially because so many Churches state the dress code at the entrance, with signs clearly showing that you can’t get in with naked shoulders or naked legs.
If this offends you, I suggest you skip the religious buildings entirely: there’s so much more to see and do in Italy! Museums, for example, aren’t so strict about the dress code, even if you can’t expect to walk inside wearing a nice swimsuit!
My tip to avoid an embarrassing situation is to add a large cotton scarf to your Italy packing list. It’s lightweight, so you can keep it in your backpack and drape it on your shoulders in case you want to visit a Church.
Another huge, and I mean huge don’t? Wearing socks with sandals. Oh. My. Gosh. This is the one thing we absolutely can’t stand. The older generations in Italy used to do that, but a younger person wouldn’t be caught in sandals and socks like… ever.
The Italian dress code is strict on shoes. It’s not polite to go to a restaurant (especially in the evening) while wearing a pair of hiking boots. Please, try to dress appropriately! A cute pair of flat sandals will be enough if you don’t want to wear heels, but definitely stay away from hiking boots, especially if you’re visiting summer in Italy and you’re not hiking!
One of the biggest Italy travel mistakes you can do is dressing like no one’s looking. While there’s no fashion police in Italy, we still actually look at what people are wearing. It’s not because we want to point our finger at you: fashion is an important part of our life!
Absolutely avoid the Hawaiian print, khaki shorts, flip-flops and baseball caps. You will immediately be recognized as a tourist and there might be a few eye-rolls along the way.
Even if summer in Italy is scorching hot, it’s not uncommon to find men dressed in button-down shirts and well-fitted trousers.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to wear denim. I am Italian and I wear denim all the time! If I want to go to a nice club and I don’t feel like wearing a summer dress, I’ll just go for stretch denim jeans, high heels (stilettos or sandals) and a nice silk top. There you go! These items can be mixed and matched so you will have several outfits without having to drag around a heavy suitcase. Win-win!
Summer means you can go for floral dresses or bright colors, but make sure you won’t overdo it. In Italy we often go for neutral colors, unless it’s a bright summer day.
Yet always make sure to choose the right dress: I’m not saying you should opt for a conservative style, but don’t be too flamboyant. If you stick out too much you might be targeted by pickpocketers or scammers.
Especially if you’re a solo female traveler, don’t advertise yourself by wearing expensive jewels. It can be very dangerous. Choosing the right accessories (keep reading for more details!) will make you look awesome without putting you in danger.
Italian summer dresses: Positano style
If after reading my guide to find lodging on the Amalfi Coast you decided to stay in Positano, there’s one thing you’ll immediately notice. The Italian summer dresses sold in Positano are different.
Full disclosure: you will find this kind of “Positano sundresses” also at other towns on the Amalfi Coast, yet of course Positano is the main one where basically all the shops sell them.
Most of the clothes you will see in Positano are handcrafted from start to finish, using lace, macramé, silk, and especially linen or cotton. They channel the breezy, effortless style you’ll find everywhere on the Amalfi Coast.
Positano is some kind of fairytale village clinging to the steep slopes of the Amalfi Coast. There are tons of shops selling handmade sandals (again, it’s “Positano style“): they will measure your feet, help you to choose the best style, and in 1-2 days you’ll have your own sandals!
One of the best shops where you can buy handmade sandals in Positano is Nana’ Positano, a family owned shop. A good alternative, in case Nana’ Positano is too booked to accept your order, is La Botteguccia Positano, which also sells bags, purses, belts, wallets and accessories.
Some of the best summer vacation outfits you’ll ever see include the Positano dresses. The most popular color is white, followed right after by light blue. Recently I’ve seen some floral dresses, perfect for summer, that are a bit different from the traditional “Amalfi Coast style” but still look amazing. You can pair them with your new sandals!
Because on the Amalfi Coast you’ll have to walk a lot, the dress code is definitely less strict. You’ll be perfectly fine wearing a pair of beautiful flat sandals and a maxi dress or a sundress, also when you go out at night!
Try to wear natural fabrics and light colors: summer in Italy is warm but here on the Amalfi Coast it’s… scorching hot! Dark colors and synthetic fabrics will make you sweat a lot.
Take all this into account while wondering what to wear in Italy this summer: if you’re visiting the South, I’d suggest you don’t overpack so you can buy nice dresses, shoes and accessories in Italy!
Packing for Italy: accessories & must-haves
While trying to decide what to pack for your summer trip to Italy, I encourage you to add a special accessories tab to your list.
Accessories are invaluable items that will help you to pack light and be ready for everything. We’ve covered many interesting topics while trying to understand what to wear in Italy in summer, and as you might have noticed, I highlighted several times already the importance of packing the right accessories.
Maybe it’s because in the past me and Al used to set photo shootings for models: when you have limited space, you need to get creative with accessories and make-up so your pictures won’t look flat and boring.
Hats, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and sunglasses offer you the chance to showcase your personal style, taste and preferences. But it’s not just that. Packing for Italy can be complicated because you will need to stay classy without fitting all your wardrobe into several suitcases.
The good news is that accessories offer unlimited opportunities for clothes, turning them from a day-to-the-beach ensemble into a stylish outfit. Just like that!
If you’re planning to take a lot of instagram shots, you should bring a floppy straw hat and maybe a fancy pair of sunglasses to complete your summer vacation outfits.
A day out spent shopping or enjoying a cappuccino at a cute cafe can be accessorized with colorful jewelry, a cross body bag and trendy sunglasses. I absolutely love the neutral outfits that add pops of color using summer accessories!
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The must-have items for your summer in Italy should also be a cotton scarf, hair clippers or headbands and a jewel belt.
I don’t think you should bother packing things like toothpaste or sunscreen: you can buy these everywhere in Italy! And if you do buy the travel sizes, you’ll just get rid of them before you get back home.
Travelling light when you’re visiting Italy is mandatory!