Knowing what to wear in Italy in summer can ensure that you feel comfortable during your vacation. The summer season in Italy sees normal temperatures hovering at around 81 degrees Fahrenheit and reaching as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit at the sun’s worst. With that in mind, you may wonder what to wear.
Travelers should pack a few things before boarding a flight to Italy, and for women, it includes things like dresses, skirts, sunscreen, and a bag that fits your camera, phone, and water bottle. For men, pack lightweight cotton shorts, a light-colored t-shirt, and lightweight chinos for pants. Men and women should wear comfortable walking shoes since you will walk around Italy a great deal.
If you’d like to learn more about what to wear in Italy in the summer, keep reading as we explore how to vacation comfortably and what not to wear here as well.
From 11 am to 4 pm, the hot Italian summers can stop you from exploring outside as much, especially if you visit southern Italian regions like Sicily or Puglia. Many travelers choose to enjoy the early mornings and evenings and slow down during the middle part of the day. In fact, you will see many locals who do the same.
I’ve heard of people who moved from Tucson, Arizona, and even they struggled in the humidity of the Italian summer heat. As a side note, Italy doesn’t have air conditioning everywhere like in the United States, but the buildings have thick walls and window shutters to help.
What to Wear in the Summer in the Cities
Thinking of what to wear in Italy in summer especially matters in the cities because, like all cities, the temperatures rise higher because the buildings, roads, and infrastructure absorb the summer heat.
Whatever city you visit, you will want comfortable walking shoes since the best shoes for sightseeing in Italy are comfortable. Shoes with flexible rubber soles will do best in the city with cobblestones and pavement. They should bend at the ball of the foot, not at the arch since you need arch support to prevent injury.
For women, don’t wear high heels since cobblestones and steps will make your life a living nightmare. If you do wear high-heels for a special event, take a taxi. You might choose good comfortable walking sandals for men and women, but flip-flops are usually frowned upon outside of the beach.
I would recommend that you wear a shoulder bag as well. The reason behind this being that you won’t look like as much of a tourist and you can hold it close to you as needed. You can carry your guidebook and camera in a shoulder bag and access them easily. Just exercise caution not to overload it since this can cause shoulder pain.
Women may opt for maxi dresses because you can wear them any time of the day and match them with your sandals, loafers or oxfords. Maxi dresses work well for sightseeing because of the lightweight fabric not holding in the summer heat, and it’s a breathable fabric.
Attire for Visiting Religious Sites
If you’re thinking about what to wear in Italy in summer, men and women may benefit from tank tops in the summer heat. Just remember that you must cover up before you enter any of the churches. Even some tourist sites like Pantheon may turn away tourists who wear tank tops or shorts. To get around this, some tourists will cover their shoulders with a large scarf, called a foulard. You can carry it around in your shoulder bag.
Avoid this choice of clothing if you will visit any churches to prevent being turned away. Italians tend to dress more elegantly, but you may want to fare on the more conservative side unless you will visit the more coastal regions to avoid being turned away at some tourist sites like the Vatican.
What to Wear in Summer in Italy at the Beach
Before you head out to the beaches, bring along your two-piece bikini. Most women will wear bikinis over one-piece swimsuits. Men will usually wear swim trunks. This is where you usually want to let your stylish side show since one-piece swimsuits are usually considered too conservative, but some towns like Sorrento have banned bikinis on the beach.
Italians have a reputation for wearing the newest and most stylish swimming outfits. In Italy, you only wear flip-flops at the beach. Crop tops are fine on the beach, but you wouldn’t wear them elsewhere and the same goes for the tankini.
Think about if you will go hiking because some hiking trails like those in Cinque Terre or those on the Amalfi Coast will leave you with a costly fine if you wear inappropriate footwear like flip flops and sandals, charging a costly fine of $2,600.
Dress Code in the Summer for Women and Girls
Italy doesn’t have a dress code except at religious sites. If you want to know what to wear in Italy in summer, the locals commonly wear linen and cotton for fashion and breathability during the day. The breathability will keep you cool and comfortable as you traverse the historical sites. You might add a hat or a visor to protect you from the sun.
You may want to keep from wearing too short shorts or miniskirts. If you go to cathedrals or religious sites, they typically want your shorts to at least cover the knees. Don’t wear anything with an open back at those sites. If you’re worried about it, palazzo pants look stylish, and they remain loose enough to where it works well in the Italian summer heat.
Also, don’t wear strapless tops or spaghetti straps to religious sites since it will give them a reason to turn you away. Dresses should also be slightly below the knees. Sometimes they will let women in with it slightly above the knees, but you never know who’s working the door, and it’s a sign of respect for the culture.
During the evenings, you don’t need to worry as much about the heat. For that, I would recommend wearing a light summer dress or a long or midi skirt. Chinos or linen pants are another good choice that will help you to blend in with the locals. Again, palazzo pants make for a stylish choice for the evening. If you want to know what to wear in Italy in summer for jewelry, gold hoops, standout rings, and statement necklaces all make sense.
If invited to an Italian friend’s house for a dinner party, dress up for the occasion even if you know them well. Italians consider this a sign of respect.
Dress Code in Italy in Summer for Men and Guys
Like the women, you don’t have a serious dress code, but walking around without a shirt on is generally frowned upon. During the day, you may want to avoid print shirts to keep from looking like a tourist since this is what not to wear in Italy in summer for men. It’s also not fashionable here. Italians like to dress nicely, and short sleeves or rolled-up long sleeves would make for a good choice.
Cotton shorts make sense because they will keep you cool in the summer heat. You might choose to wear chinos as well. Most Italians, at least in the older generation, won’t wear shorts unless at the beach. A striped polo or a T-shirt is often a good choice. You might take along a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Just remember that you need to remove all hats at religious sites.
For the evening hours, you might put on a short-sleeved or a long-sleeved shirt with a lightweight fabric. Add some chinos or linen pants. You may want to take along a casual jacket or a lightweight sweater since the summer temperatures can drop down to 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
For shoes, you might choose leather sandals or loafers. You could add a subtle touch with either a belt or a watch. Hopefully, this shows you what to wear in Italy for guys in summer. While Italy has no formal dress code, many of the unspoken rules are more from fashion-conscious Italians. Dress codes in Italy are rare because people tend to be respectful and dress up for occasions. In some cases, if you don’t dress up, they may consider you as being rude or disrespectful. In many cases, this can lead to you receiving poor service whether at a restaurant or elsewhere.
What Not to Wear in Italy in Summer
In general, when you think about what to wear in Italy in summer and what not to wear, you want to dress so that you don’t look like a tourist. Italians dress a couple of steps above the rest. That means avoid casual wear out in the streets. For example, don’t wear yoga pants or athletic wear if you don’t plan to make use out of it for that purpose.
One of the biggest things that you can remember is not to forget comfortable footwear. Especially if you plan on sightseeing, you will still do a lot of walking in Italy. You want to feel comfortable when you walk. When you buy a shirt that says, “I love AMALFI,” wait till you get home to put it on. This will keep you from looking like a tourist.
Don’t wear sweatpants—or worse—pajamas while out in public. Most Italians expect a more formal dress code when out in public compared to American fashion. Don’t wear oversized shirts or baggy trousers. Italians wear appropriately sized clothing.
In general, for men, you may want to wear slacks rather than jeans. While Italians do wear jeans, it’s less common than slacks, and jeans will also make you hotter in the summer due to the heavier fabric material. This hopefully shows you what not to wear in Italy in summer. The biggest thing that you can do is to just dress a little nicer than usual since it will help you to blend in. The reason you’d want to blend in has more to do with personal safety, especially in the bigger cities like Rome and Naples.
Getting ready for your Italian vacation means that you know a little about what to pack. Let’s take a look at some of the essentials that you will want to bring along:
This should show you what to wear in Italy in summer and what to take along with you for your vacation to ensure a good time.
Wear SPF 15 sunscreen or higher while under the sun. Apply it wherever your skin sees exposure to the sun. Especially if you see yourself sweating, make sure to apply it again. Most experts recommend that you drink six to eight 8-oz glasses of water every day. Out in the Italian heat, you may need to drink more and be aware of how dehydration can sneak up on you.
Come prepared because the weather can change fast without warning. While it can get hot in Italy in the summer season, the afternoon and night hours occasionally experience thunderstorms, especially in the north. You have to remember how most of Italy sits on a big peninsula surrounded by seas. The moisture in the air and warmer temperatures can lead to rain and thunderstorms. In general, the summer season tends to be more predictable than the spring, but it can still experience unpredictable weather.