Packing for 2 weeks in Italy in April


Mar 8th, 2008, 09:12 PM
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Packing for 2 weeks in Italy in April

OK - 4 weeks from today I will (hopefully) be in flight to Venice. I am starting to think about how to pack everything I need in one 20" expandable roll-on, plus a roomy carry on bag. We will be in Venice, Florence and Rome, staying in tiny hotels without laundry facilities. Not planning any fancy dinners requiring dressing up. Need to be able to lift my suitcase in the trains.

I'm stuck on how to handle tops and shoes. Can I fit 13 tops into a suitcase - do I even own that many? Or do I attempt to wash out the scent of travel every few days and take far fewer? Do I want turtlenecks? Re shoes - I have trouble with my feet. I'm figuring on one pair gray sneakers (my tried and true) and one pair slip on Merrills or Easy Spirits or the like. No lovely easy to pack leather flats for me, unfortunately, not with all the waling I have planned. But will those sneakers brand me as an ugly American, and do I care? And should I put in my favorite red backless but sturdy sandals and hope for warm weather in Rome? What about rain gear - can I just stick a bagged poncho in my suitcase and hope I never have to open it, or do I need a rain jacket?

How does everyone accomplish layering for April weather? I figured on taking 2 thin cardigans and a Pashmina style shawl, but I feel like I need something heavier also, that can go under my jacket or stand alone. Ideas? I had planned to travel in my mid weight leather jacket. Is that a good choice, or am I going to find it too heavy for the daytime?

Thanks for your assistance. I plan to take any ideas you offer and extrapolate for my husband, who insists that he will never be able to get his stuff into a small suitcase. Granted, his clothes are bigger than mine, so any guys who pack light - please give me your thoughts too.
butnotrmpt is offline  
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Mar 8th, 2008, 09:28 PM
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You really can't predict the weather, but when I traveled to Italy at that time of year (late March/early April) light jackets were only needed at night. During the day it was just too warm except for short sleeves. As for tennis shoes, you will just be one of the thousands of people wearing them.

I'm not very good at packing light and I don't like to spend my travel time washing clothes. Do a search for janisj. She teaches packing classes and has a list you can use.
kybourbon is online now  
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Mar 8th, 2008, 10:01 PM
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You don't need 13 tops! Half that will do. A couple of pairs of pants, a skirt, a sweater, two pairs of shoes (one of which you wear on the plane), may be a nice fleece jacket and a rainproof windbreaker.

I don't wear sneakers anywhere, home or abroad, so can't comment on that.I am lucky to have happy feet that are comfortable in most brands of shoes like Aerosoles and Impos and Clarkes and so forth that are both stylish and comfortable. I have a major thing for Unisa shoes, which are both incredibly comfortable and really sexy - I swear Italian women must have designed them. I can literally walk for hours on cobblestone streets in Unisa heels, and that's saying something for someone who for most of her life was known for never ever wearing heels.

I would leave the sandals at home - it's too early in the season and your feet will get dirty in Rome.

What I do is pick a palette and work around that. My latest one is chocolate brown, fawn, and pale, sort of olive-ey greens. I pick one skirt, a couple of pairs of pants (including really lightweight stretch jeans, which I love for wearing on the plane and in the countryside in Europe), 6-8 tops including at least one "fancy" one I can pair with the skirt for a nice evening out and half long-sleeved and half short-sleeved, one lightweight jacket OR cardigan that goes with everything, socks, underwear that rinses and dries really quickly, a classy-looking fleece jacket and a Gortex or other shell or lightweight jacket - or really, just an umbrella.

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Mar 8th, 2008, 10:24 PM
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Well, I was bitterly cold in Milan in mid-April a few years ago. I've also been further south, including Florence and Rome at that time of year, and needed thin woollen jumpers, some, but not all the time.
Re packing: on the trip a few years ago I only packed four long-sleeved T-shirts and one short-sleeved one, all in superfine wool. Is it available in the US? I just washed them out at night and they were dry by the morning. I had one thin cardigan and one thicker top, a vest, a lightweight raincoat, a lightweight but warm parka - we went on to Switzerland and UK - three or four pairs of lightweight slacks that could go over fine woollen longjohns, and a couple of skirts, though one would have been enough. I could fit all that into a 21 inch non-expandable roll-on, provided I wore my walking shoes onto the plane and carried several books and toiletries in my carry-on. [That was before restrictions on toiletries.] I think I only had one other pair of shoes that trip, + scarves and warm hat for the Alps and a pair of track pants that I pulled on over the other layers when we were in snow - you shouldn't need those! But I'm not sure you'll need sandals.
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Mar 8th, 2008, 11:32 PM
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We've been to Italy twice in April - lots of rain in Venice, Rome and Capri both times - really needed the jacket/windbreaker & umbrella. It was quite cold a couple of nights. Same trip - some very sunny, warm days in Florence and Naples. I would skip the sandals in April - too much bother to maybe use only once. (Watch. You will go and have perfect weather and wish you had them).

For two weeks, I would probably wear one pair of pants and take three or four more (three if I was also taking a skirt or four if just taking a pair of dressier pants instead of a skirt), three or four long sleeved knit shirts (one or two of them light weight, perhaps silk knit) and one sweater and one knit jacket to layer over the shirts. Wear one pair of shoes. Take one pair. Socks (including a pair of silk tights), underwear. I wear the coat/jacket or windbreaker on the plane. I also take really warm sleepwear. That is it.

I like turtlenecks and mock turtle necks. I've used fleece jackets, but for Spring, I like nylon blends with zip out liners for warmth and staying dry. I like a shawl for late evening walks in the fall, not so much for Spring weather. Don't worry about packing perfectly. You'll do fine with whatever you take. About the DH. My DH packs twice a heavily as me - all kinds of stuff. That is Ok. He is the one carrying it. I pack only what is comfortable for me to carry for myself.
Have a fantastic trip.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 05:48 AM
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I also was in Italy in April and it was COLD some days, especially in Venice. I remember wearing a cotton turtleneck, light jacket AND my raincoat! Just make sure you layer. Nothing I hate worse than being cold....well, maybe being hot!
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Mar 9th, 2008, 07:35 AM
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I totally agree with the advice of layering and picking a color palette. 13 tops seem a bit much, and I'd pack a variety of long-sleeve, short-sleeve and cardigans that can be interchanged and would work well together color-wise. Two pairs of pants and two skirts should be the most you'd need, and you can "stain treat" if you need to along the way. Like StCirq, I am not a fan of washing things out while traveling. While the weather is quite unpredictable, layers will serve you well for trapping in heat if you need to do so. Lately temperatures in Rome reach about 60 during the day if there's sun and drop to about the mid-to-upper 40's at night; Florence will be cooler than that as a general rule, and Venice cooler still.

I'll be in Rome on April 3rd for a period of about 11 days. I'm using navy blue as my "main color" and find that I can pack tops/sweaters in red, yellow and khaki and everything will match.

Buon Viaggio,
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Mar 9th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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A Lightweight fleece jacket would be my essential for April travel. If it rains it dries out quickly! It's also warm enough for cool nights and windy days.

It's unlikely to be too hot for shoes even if it is warm enough for sandals so leave them behind.

I'd take a dozen tops so I have some choice. A few would be athlectic dry wear normally for hiking/running but that's basically what I ended up doing when my husband decided to frogmarch us from the Colosseum up Palatine Hill.
These dry wear tops rinse out and dry easily in a few hours. I'd also take a few sleeveless shells or t-shirts for warmer days.

A couple of light weight cashmere cardigans and 3 or 4 pairs of long pants including one pair of jeans.

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Mar 9th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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I "splurge" packing space on shoes. Your sneakers are fine, plus 1-2 other pair.

For me personally making sure my "shoe thing" works well is more important than having 13 tops!

I don't like turtlenecks myself, but would use a basic daily outfit such as a nice looking solid cotton t-shirt, with a cardigan over it, and a jacket over that, pants on the bottom. A scarf and hat if you think it might be that cool.

Have a couple tops that you can rinse in the hotel sink w/ shampoo and hang to dry. Outer pieces just hang to air out each evening. Don't take two of anything that serves the same function (i.e., 2 cardigans) just to have a different color to wear. Think functionality.

I don't typically travel with rain gear. Since you're in cities, if it does pour rain, you can simply buy an umbrella that day.

suze is online now  
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Mar 9th, 2008, 11:12 AM
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I'll suggest you get out the 20" suitcase and start a test pack right now.

There's NO way 2 pair of shoes, 4 pair of slacks, 13 tops, underwear, socks, 2 sweaters, 1 pashima, etc. are going to fit into a 20-incher!

I say this with kindness.

suze is online now  
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Mar 9th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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I agree with some of the other posters, the weather in April can be very unpredictable. I have been to Italy twice in April. In 2006, the weather was nice and sunny but not what I would call really warm. It only rained twice in 2 ½ weeks. However, it was quite cool in the mornings and evenings.

In 2007, I had 4 very nice, warm days in Rome and then the weather changed to 3 weeks of a mixture of rain and overcast skies (one memorable hail storm).

I traveled extensively on trains during the last trip and had to pack very lightly. I don’t mind doing laundry in a hotel sink (I bring 2 or 3 lightweight plastic hangers to hang my wet clothes) and took only 6 blouses easy to wash blouses, 1 cashmere cardigan, one turtleneck, 2 pairs of pants (plus one of the plane) and a short coat. With one additional pair of shoes, books, scarf, underwear, nightgown and socks, my 21” suitcase was full.

If you are really averse to doing laundry in your hotel rooms, you can drop your laundry off at a Laundromat that will do your laundry for you. I usually have my pants dry-cleaned when I am in Europe.

You are traveling to 3 of my favorite places in the world - have a wonderful trip!
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:04 PM
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We have 9 days in Ireland and then flying to Italy for 9 days in early April.

My pack list, in a 21 inch carry on will be:

(and it fits, cuz it's all in there right the very moment, as a trial pack)

1 black Travelsmith short sleeve dress
1 black knit skirt
1 black travel skirt
1 black pant
1 windbreaker
1 thin red sweater
3 t shirts
1 pair of shoes
I even also have my flat iron and mini hair dryer in there!!!

I will wear a khaki skirt and top, covered with a black cardigan

EVERYTHING I have in that case goes with EVERYTHING else that is in that case. Almost everything is a nice wash and wear item.

Those Travelsmith dresses are to die for. I washed on in the sink, put it on the hanger, woke up the next morning to a dry dress, with no wrinkles. YEE HAW. Taking a scarf I can wear in my hair, or around the neckline of the dress to funk it up a bit if I want.

We, however, plan to have laundry done once on this trip, perhaps twice.

You can get all this in.

Hubby is taking

2 black dockers
1 khaki dockers

5 shirts

and one other pair of shoes.

Good luck to you. I think the key is fabric, mix/matching items, and the desire to travel LIGHT.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:05 PM
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I am now adding two plastic hangars.

Good thought.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:20 PM
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Hi Ikemerson,

I hope that you make room for an umbrella in your luggage.

I have been to Ireland twice in May. One trip was a mixture of sunny days and some rain. The other trip was mostly cold and rainy, with occasional sunny periods.

I absolutely adore Ireland, and combined with Italy - pure bliss.

Have a great trip!
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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a couple plastic hangers is an excellent tip i use too (they slip easily into the outer zippered pocket of your suitcase). both for hand laundry but also hotels rarely seem to have enough hangers, especially when you're traveling light and want to air things out.

p.s. i tried blow-up hangers specially made for 'travel' one time but they did not work very well -haha.
suze is online now  
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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I bring the hangers with the bar across the bottom - good for underwear and socks.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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Yup, those are them (molded light weight plastic, in the shape of a... well... hanger!)
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Mar 9th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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I travel frequently on business and keep a bag in my trunk at all times. I dont even know whether it will be Africa , India or Europe so I have to have to pack for all weather. The bag I bring is the sort that sits on top of a 24" suitcase so a 20 inch case is vast! secret- dark trousers and tops to match. Everything can be washed- (cold water soap powder and I then wrap rinsed items in a towel and step on the towel). I pack several scarves and jewelry. I wear good casual shoes that I can walk in, pack 2" heels and have a flat "tropical shoe". When packing put everything out on your bedroom floor about 2 days before you pack..then pack half of what you have taken out. Make sure you have only one color palate- ie blacks, browns or another neutral. It is easy to do and most of the time I look presentable (or at least I hope I do!).
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Mar 9th, 2008, 01:58 PM
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Within hours of your arrival, you will know that the clothes you need are those that will allow you to feel really comfortably dressed.Those are the items you will wear over and over.Europeans dress casually,usually in jeans and layers.I echo much of what many have suggested.Polartec [vest or jacket]and a good quality windbreaker are essential.A scarf / knit hat are probably a good idea for Venice.I wear jeans and my bulky items on to the plane...including my trusty cross-trainers.In my suitcase are 2 pair of black jeans,a cotton turtleneck,maybe 3-4 nice long-sleeve knit tops,including a black one,a great scarf,a string of beads,a sleek pair of clogs and undies,including a silk camisole,for warmth/sleeping.Add underwear and comfortable sox.You are ready for everything.
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Mar 9th, 2008, 08:20 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. I'm pretty set on bringing 2 pairs nice, dark jeans, and wearing black travel pants. Any ideas for where to get a comfortable pair, preferably with pockets. I really didn't like the ones from Chico's (tried them on today), since they have no pockets and they are so thin that they accentuate every lump and bump on my thighs, if you know what I mean.

I really don't want to be washing out tops every night. I'm going to lay out many 'first layer' tops, and see how much space they will take.

I just bought a pair of black quilted with patent trim Easy Spirit slip on clogs that I will pack - I will wear the sneakers since they are bulkier. That is it for shoes.

One of my remaining issues is jackets. Do I need a rain jacket? I'd have to buy one, since my fingertip length lined raincoat would be a bit much, and would not be comfortable as my main jacket. Should I travel in my leather jacket (it would be too bulky to pack)? It would be good for cool evenings, especially in Venice. I don't really have another jacket that would be suitable - just a lot of unlined jeans jackets, and then wool and down coats in my closet.

Re luggage - I just measured my suitcases - they are 22", not 20", so I guess that means they can not come on the plane with us. That also means that a small selection of clothes will be in my carry on. I'd like to think positively about the potential for lost luggage since we are flying non stop - but - my daughter flew home non stop from Detroit last June, and Northwest left about 1/3 of the passengers' bags behind. I'm sure Delta is capable of the same screw ups.
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