In the midst of wedding season we decided to plan our second trip to Italy! Last summer we visited the Italian Rivierra, Cinque Terre, Pescara, Tocco da Casauria, and stopped by Bologna on our way back to fly out of Milan. The country was experiencing a major heat wave that was unseasonable for even the locals. So I took lots of notes last year. We vowed to never return in the summer, but here we are booked for August 1 to fly into Rome and go down the Amalfi Coast! I’d be excited to go to Italy ANYTIME of year, you just have to be prepared. The weather luckily is predicted to be 10-20 degrees cooler than when we were there (PHEW!) So we may not go through as much clothing each day, saving us time at the laundromat.
If you find yourself planning a trip to Italy in the near future here are a few tips we learned along the way.
Pack Light: Don’t forget a european outlet converter. Headphone Splitter for the plane ride and trains between towns. We watched a couple movies together that helped make time fly by. Pack clothes that can be mix ‘n’ matched. I pack quite a few outfits that are cute but on their last leg so that I feel comfortable throwing them away. This allows you to have space in your suitcase to bring back WINE! (Tip below for how to follow the rules and pack safely)
Do Research: Before heading to Italy or any foreign country for that matter, search the web, pinterest, especially Instagram to find hidden gems to visit. I made a list of a few hot spots that I had to see and then left the rest up to chance. We stayed in all Hotels last year, but this year our friends convinced Freddie to try AirB&B and I couldn’t be more excited 🙂 Google & read other people’s travel blogs, I found the most helpful resources were of past traveling photographers.
Reviews: Don’t always trust the reviews that are listed. Do your homework. Ask around for recommendations and really read the negative reviews to see what could go wrong. I found out with our trip to Italy that booking hotels was not my forte. Freddie was so much better at finding the cleanest, nicest, and convenient places to stay. Expect to have very firm beds, thin pillows, and a full size. If you get better than it’s a miracle!
Explore: Allow for time in your trip abroad to just roam around, put the phones away, hold the plans, and just go explore. Find new places or things that everyone hasn’t tagged yet. Some of our favorite spots along the Italian Riviera and the drive through Tuscany were the hidden gems we found just boondoggling (as Wendy would say!) We even found on our last night in Rapallo a party in the square. The restaurants had opened up late and brought chairs out on the street to listen to the live American Jazz band. The surprises are the best.
**Bring Wine Home: We were able to bring back 12 bottles of our favorite wine. We threw away our old worn out clothes and had packed light on our way to Italy. We had brought 3 suitcases between the two of us (2 checked and 1 carry on). This allowed for room in 2 of the checked suitcases for the wine. We wrapped the wine in our clothes. At the airports there were these plastic wrap stands, yes it may seem silly, but for 10 euro you can have your entire bag wrapped. We are pretty SURE this is what helped our bottles arrive safely.
April-September MUST haves:
- Light flowy dresses, tops, and skirts. Shorts and pants were my enemy.
- Bring extra bathing suits. I loved my cover up more than expected, so invest in a soft lightweight, cover up.
- Guys bring at least 2-3 t-shirts per day, a couple polos, and one dress shirt. Most of the fancy restaurants in the summer only expect guys to wear a polo shirt.
- Shoes shoes shoes, I can’t stress the proper shoes enough. Freddie had brought a pair of dock shoes that killed and blistered his foot the first day. Be sure you bring shoes that are reliable and worn in already. Fancy shoes are SO unnecessary but for fancy nights.
- Toms, Sperry, Sandals, and wedges. They all laid flat and didn’t take up much space. The Toms were my favorite and dried out fastest.
- Thin strapped cross shoulder purse. It is smart to keep your purse on you at all times. When we were in Florence a woman put her new huge expensive handbag on the back of a chair and a gypsy walked by and stole it. Her passport, her ID, money, and everything was in it! (DON’T trust your valuables are safe without your eye on them)
- Lightweight beach bag. Freddie and I rented a car and took quite a few day drives to beaches, and random swims along the mediterranean. So having a small bag was SO useful, we were able to put our clothes in it while we swam and towels.
- Waterproof camera/video camera. We spent so much time walking around and swimming in random spots, so having a waterproof camera was so awesome. We brought it out with us when we swam at Santa Margherita and took really fun pics of the coast. It was also helpful it had a wrist strap to keep it safe so we didn’t lose it or have it stolen.
- Extra shampoo/conditioner. If you are flying through Heathrow airport be sure to check their rules on carry on container sizes. We had to throw away SO much of our toiletries because of our layover. We needed extra body wash too since we were showering at least twicea day.