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What to pack 10 days Venice, Florence and Rome in Mid-october

What should we pack? We are on RS tour. Is there a need to bring nice clothes (such as dresses and heels)? Trying to fit everything in a small carry on suitcase. Thanks.

Posted by
6082 posts

No need for dressy clothes. I will say that as a general rule, the Italians dress better than we do. Presenting one's best self "la bella figura" is important to them. Most people on your tour will be very casually dressed. Some folks dress up a bit more for the final dinner, others don't.

Wear clothes in which you feel comfortable, which for me means nothing brand new!

Posted by
1662 posts

Perhaps bring a couple pair of black slacks - slim pant, ankle pant, Capri, business casual, dressy black jeans - whatever your comfort level is with the suggestions.

Sweaters that are tunic, v-neck, and pullover, button down blouses, shirts, jerseys. All can be dressed up when paired with a scarf or a bold necklace, and a couple of bracelets.

When in Italy, I saw a mix of the above. Black goes with everything and can be dressed up or down.

I like to bring pieces that will have tonal, monochromatic, and solid looks. Easy to mix/match and accessorize.

I saw women with ankle boots, shoe boots, tall boots, few types of dressier sneakers, tied, loafer, or mary jane style shoes. Of course, make sure shoes are broken in and comfortable.

No worries. As long as you're not going to formal restaurants, you'll be fine.

Posted by
13210 posts

For your group meals with the tour, what you've had on touring during the day will be fine. Sometimes you may not have time to go back to the hotel before dinner. In general, when on an RS tour, if I have a chance to go back to the hotel and shower, I'll put on the clean clothes I plan to wear for the next day.

If you are planning on going out for a special dinner, then maybe a pair of shoes you can still walk in but are a step up from the athletic shoes I always wear.

Absolutely no need for the level of "business casual" on your tour. I'd not bring extra clothing that you are not going to be able to wear on tour days.

Posted by
1259 posts

We see this topic almost daily. You can scroll down through a few weeks of posts or search and find lots of helpful suggestions. Start with these two websites for some objective advice from practical experience:

Posted by
13210 posts

I think it's perfectly fine to ask a question like this regarding a Rick Steves tour. It's easy enough to scroll past a topic that is not of interest to someone.

If it's a first tour it's hard to judge how casual or dressy things might be for group dinners. Unless someone asks they might have no idea tours sometimes go from day activities to a meal. On my first RS tour we did an old city tour of Florence on the way to dinner. In the pouring rain, lol!

And I guess I should add my personal packing for a 10 day tour (and assuming you will be gone for a few more days) in addition to the advice regarding whether you need nice clothes:

3 SS Land's End Tees (cotton/modal - dries overnight)
1 LS Land's End Tee - if the forecast looks like it will cool off by the end of your tour
2 pr long pants
1 pr of capris (I get hot so that time of year in Italy I might still be wearing capris and might make that 2 capris and 1 long pants)
1 waterproof jacket
2 pr shoes - I have horrible feet so I wear athletic shoes all the time. I need to take care of my feet so they can stand up to a tour. I use Altras but any that you can walk 6-8 miles in are good. If you want to use your 2nd pair for a nicer pair, that's fine, just make sure you can do 3-4 miles in them as well.
1 cardigan
4 pr underwear (wearing 1)
2 bras (wearing 1)
toiletries (in small bottles even if you are checking your bag)
Cross body purse

You'll not have significant bus time on this tour. On a longer tour I usually take a "bus bag" which is either a small day pack or a medium tote where I can stash my rain jacket, kindle, water, snacks, guide book, etc for the bus ride. If you want something like this for the plane trip then go for something light that you can pack up easily.

Posted by
15281 posts

While I haven't taken this tour, the easy answer is no, no need at ALL to bring dresses and heels. I'll say that after having been around the forums for enough years to have a clue about what the RS tour people wear. Also from some pix posted on this site. :O)

And in our experience? Many Italians didn't dress much fancier than tourists during their casual hours. Different? Yes, maybe, but not necessarily "better". It's sort of how they carry themselves: "bella figura" is more about that than dress so not something a tourist can just adopt. Age also matters as, just as in the U.S., younger people dress differently than older citizens.

Posted by
7888 posts

Carry whatever you want--as long as it fits in a 21" rolling bag and weighs no more than 22 lbs. (10 kg.)
Rick Steves' packing list comes from his experience. We go for 2 weeks and always come back with clothes we didn't even wear.
Future accommodations will be apartments that come with washing machines--so we can carry half the clothes we've carried in the past.

Posted by
331 posts

I've not been on this tour, but those cities were part of the Best of Italy tour we took from early to mid-October. I remember walking quite a distance from the hotel to dinner in each of these cities, so definitely not heels. We had some women on the tour wearing skirts, but that was just part of their personal style, and they were mostly casual skirts, not dressy.

My packing list is similar to Pam's, though I take a combination of t-shirts and long-sleeved button-front shirts--the latter so I can roll up the sleeves if the day warms up as it goes along. We started in the north and moved south, but it was still quite warm in Rome when we were there mid-month. Not hot, but I was glad for shorter sleeves during the day.

Posted by
6082 posts

Okay, Kathy, most Italians dress better than most Okies. At least the ones I see at Wal-Mart. :-)

Not fancier, neater and better put together.

Posted by
9116 posts

This Okie married to an Italian agrees with Jane!!

Posted by
15281 posts

LOL, Kim and Jane! Maybe I need glasses (or another LASIK tweak). 🧐

Posted by
1728 posts

I always pack a skirt when I travel. It comes in very handy when I want to feel 'dressier,' when it is particularly warm outside and also is easy to mix and match with tops that go with your slacks/capris. I have a maxi skirt with a comfy waist (great for big meals) that I pack. I get several days wear out of it.

Posted by
866 posts

We did this tour in midOctober (it was in the low to mid 80s the whole time) and we stayed another 10 days on our own after the tour was over in Sorrento and Florence.

Absolutely no heels - lots of cobblestone and stairs. We wore sneakers 100% of the time as did most everyone else - 4 people fell on this tour, so pack smart. You will be carrying your luggage pretty far in Venice over bridges and on and off boats as you leave Venice to head to Florence - so be sure you can manage your luggage. We were also on the 5th floor in our Venice hotel, with NO elevator, so be sure you can carry EVERYTHING you bring up lots of flights of stairs. LOTS of walking.

We loved this tour.

Remember, you can't enter Cathedrals with your shoulders or knees showing - many people had to wait outside as they didn't pack well for this.

You're not there to impress anyone or compare to what others are wearing. You're there to experience and learn about Italy. Pack so you can be comfortable and manage your luggage - and remember, you will be buying things to bring back - we had lots of leather bags, scarves and Olive Oil on our trip home.

Posted by
101 posts

I will also be on this RS tour early hoping the weather has cooled off by then!
Last year on my first RS tour I was surprised when several tour mates were somewhat dressed up at our final dinner. I was not and admit feeling slightly uncomfortable about it. When I say "somewhat" dressed up, I mean women had on nicer shoes and blouses I don't think I'd seen over the previous 10 days. I don't know that I will pack much differently this time around, but I may put a nicer blouse in and make sure it's clean! I was so conscious of packing light I actually under packed last year, so I've been going over my packing list. I guess my final decisions will have to wait until the date is closer and I can check the weather forecast...praying for at least low 80's so capris and cool shirts will be the staples.

Posted by
84 posts

Pam from Idaho to the rescue!

What she said, plus- once upon a time I let myself be fashion shamed into attractive, well made flats for my touring shoes. Major mistake! On your tour you’ll put a minimum of 5 miles on your feet daily. Would you take a 5 mile walk at home in anything less than supportive, athletic shoes? Probably not. And there are many choices available now that don’t scream sneaker.

Trust me, no one else remembers what you wore the day before yesterday unless that garment was truly notable in some way through fabric, design, or construction.

And second that recommendation to have a fresh top for that last night’s dinner. Have seen this every tour and adopted this same behavior. Plus, you can wear it the next day whether touring more on your own or flying. Happy travels :)

Posted by
1283 posts

Pam, do you sleep in your fresh clothes so that you save more time in the morning??? ;-)
Great idea! ;-)
Sweetpea, if you often wear casual dresses at home you might want to bring one geared toward the expected weather.
As for me, I live in jeans and linen slacks at home so that's what I pack for Europe. I do have a very light weight mid-calf black skirt that I always pack and almost never wear, but I like having the option.
I recently bought a pair of Dansko black maryjane flats that were so comfortable out of the box that I wore them on a 3 mile walk the next day. So that is my second pair of shoes after the walking "sneakers." Depending on the weather, again, you might bring a very comfortable nice pair of sandals.
A scarf will dress up any outfit if you feel the need.
Have a great time and let us know how you do.

Posted by
6082 posts

Kathy, think baggy sweats, pajama pants, flip-flops... And that was in church!

Posted by
13210 posts

SharYn! So funny. No...haven’t done that yet. Anyone old enough to remember the Dick Van Dyke show? The show that reminded me of was when Laura was pregnant and he was practicing getting ready quickly. He placed his hat(fedora?) on the headboard and practiced sitting up while placing it on his head, lol.

Posted by
15281 posts

Kathy, think baggy sweats, pajama pants, flip-flops... And that was in

Yikes, I didn't see any of THAT! Tsk-tsk.

Posted by
1620 posts

I have been to Italy in October and the weather was perfect. Plan to go from morning till night in the same outfit. For me that meant layers. Dark jeans, with a tank, with a cardigan like open sweater over that with a scarf in my purse, in case it got chilly at night. I always take a knit maxi skirt which can be dressed up or down and is not too fussy. My sandals are a 1 inch wedge, don't know if those count as "heels" but they are less casual than sneakers and I can (and have) walked for over 10 miles in them:
I think you need to feel comfortable in your own skin, whatever that style is. For some it's the Lands End look, others Old Navy (me!), or REI. Think about your days activities and just dress appropriately. I think I would want to be more dressed up for a nicer dinner, but that is just me. We did a day trip on the amalfi coast and hired a private driver, so no trains, massive amount of stairs to climb, no daybag that needed to be carried around for 12 hours, so I wore a skirt and tank top, which was more dressier than I would have worn if we were not being chauffeured around.