UW Rome Center

What to Pack

Italians are known around the world for their style, and Rome’s residents are no exception. When deciding what to pack for Rome, keep in mind that day-to-day European style tends to be more dressy and conservative than American style. This doesn’t necessarily mean formal business clothing, though. Think more like nice shirts and mid-length skirts or dark jeans rather than oversized t-shirts and shorts. Ultimately, what you choose to wear is of course your choice. And, also understand that depending on your style, your American clothes will allow any Italian to immediately recognize you as an American especially if they include: t-shirts, tank tops, strapless tops, midriffs, shorts, short skirts, baseball hats and flip flops. Decide whether you would like to try to blend in or not, as that will certainly affect your packing list.

For women, we recommend comfortable dresses, casual shirts and more dressy blouses that can be paired with multiple bottoms and versatile skirts, dark jeans and pants. For men, we recommend casual and button down shirts and dark denim jeans and pants. Also, when site seeing at the Vatican and other churches, keep in mind you’ll need to cover your shoulders and knees. Comfortable walking shoes like dark sneakers are a must, and depending on the season, comfortable sandals in the spring and summer or boots for late fall and winter.

In terms of weather, Rome has all four seasons and tends to be warmer than Seattle. July is the hottest month in Rome with an average temperature of 26°C (78°F) and the coldest is January at 8°C (46°F) with the most daily sunshine hours at 11 in July. The wettest month is December with an average of 96mm of rain. Check out Rome’s annual temperatures here to see what the temperature will be like during your study aboard.

And of course, you’ll need to consider the amount of luggage that you are allowed to bring on the plane, being aware that if your bag(s) are over the weight limit it might cost you an additional $50 or more per bag at the airport. Be sure to check with your airline on relevant restrictions. Also remember most of us tend to pack twice as much as we need. Keep in mind the old rule of thumb: pack your suitcase, then, take out half the clothes. Lastly, all student apartments are equipped with wash machines and clotheslines or drying racks for drying (machine dryers are very rare), so packing clothes that are washer friendly and air dry easily is recommended.

In addition to your clothes, we recommend bringing:

  • Comfortable walking shoes (You’ll wander a lot in Rome, and the cobblestone streets can take some time to adjust to!)
  • Scarves (These are a staple of Italian style and a must-have multipurpose travel item. They can be your blanket on the plane ride, an accessory during the day, or a shawl when you go out at night. Also useful for when you need to cover up at a church.)
  • Work out clothes (Here, t-shirts, tank tops and shorts are okay!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat, sunscreen (It’s expensive in Italy!)
  • Umbrella
  • Earplugs
  • Gloves and hats, or bathing suits depending on the season
  • Medications, supplements, etc. (See our advice about this here.)
  • Plug converters and adapters (Voltage in Italy is 220, and in the US it’s 110. Most electronic devices such as cameras, cell phones, laptops and electric shavers are dual voltage by default, but hair dryers and straighter tend not to be. Check your devices to verify their voltage.)
  • Photocopies of your passport and visa, if applicable

Travel bags should be lockable and personal bags should have adjustable shoulder straps to keep them close to your body. When moving around Rome, especially in crowded piazzas, buses and subways, it is best to wear bags and purses that fit close to your body to reduce the likelihood of theft.)