The scene is classic. Audrey Hepburn playing a princess in disguise on the Spanish Steps, a dashing American journalist pursues her as she looks effortlessly stunning with a simple blouse, free-flowing skirt and strappy, flat sandals. It’s an image that burns in the mind of any girl planning her own Roman holiday.
If there ever was a city to try and be fashionable, it’s Rome. The sweltering heat during your summer vacation may have you wondering how you’ll ever maintain a look like Hepburn’s, but with these items, it’s completely possible.
Some of these pieces may seem fancy on their own, but they can be dressed up or down and are suitable for day or night with the right planning. Stick to solid colors, rather than patterns, so nothing clashes. That way you’ll maximise the number of outfits available.
3 skirts: It’s easy to fall back on a pair of short, shorts in hot climates, but a long, free-flowing skirt is much classier and can actually be cooler. Go for something below or just above the knees, made of light weight material.
1 pair of shorts: While most won’t be doing too many adventure activities in this city, bring a pair along just in case you’ll be riding any vespas. Keep them at a suitable length to avoid too many whistles.
1 pair of pants: Before you fall back on a pair of skinny jeans, why not try something different and lighter, like linen or rayon pants. Go for navy blue or beige and maybe even a matching jacket.
1 scarf: Another item to warm you up during the rare cooler times of your trips. This item can also be used as an accessory and will fit easily into your purse. Maybe try a pattern for this item to add a bit of life to a solid wardrobe.
1 belt: For looks. It will make a huge difference. Beige or black are best, but try to coordinate with your shoes and bags.
3 tank tops: Again keep them solid, but go for color. Depending of other items, try red, navy blue, pink and white.
2 blouses: This will dress up a simple bottom in ways unimaginable. Go for light-weight materials like chiffon. Stick to soft colors as well like different whites, pinks and beiges.
2 dresses: On days when you don’t want to put too much thought into your outfit or for special occasions, throw on this one-piece ensemble. Again stick with light materials. Make one dress suitable for both walking around the city and the beach.
2 bras: Tan or white to not pop under your light-colored blouses. Do you need a strapless bra?
1 swimsuit: Definitely bring one. Unless you’re spending more than two days at a time at the beach, you really only need one.
1 night gown: Why not stay styled through the nights as well?
Since summer means showing off a bit of skin, make sure your feet are covered with something cute. All three of these suggested footwear items are easy to walk in, but also make a statement. Go for something that wraps around your ankle to add to the look.
1 pair heeled platform espadrilles: Easy enough to walk around in all day and down cobble-stone streets, but also suitable for fancy dress activities in the summer.
1 pair gladiator sandals: You’re in Rome! Why not? Tan leather would be ideal, but keep it simple. Too many straps and buckles will get annoying.
1 pair flats: Go for comfort with this item. Something with a bit of padding for those heavy days of touring.
This simple list of must-have bathroom items comes with one major tip, use oil-free products whenever possible. You don’t want look greasy when you sweat and you most likely will sweat here. If you’re not too picky on a few items, just buy them upon arrival in the country. Otherwise choose the size depending on the length of your stay.
Shampoo and conditioner
Soap and/or body wash
A toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
Deodorant: Make sure it fits in your purse, you’ll want to have this on you throughout the day.
Hairbrush, hair ties, hairspray and bobby pins: Don’t bother trying to wear your hair down, it will be hot and you’ll look like you’ve melted by the end of the day. Instead, leave the blow dryer and straightener behind and just create a really nice up-do style at the start of your days.
Face wipes: If you use these regularly then bring an extra pack. Bring one on top of your normal face wash if you don’t. Throw a pack in your purse and use throughout the day to freshen your face.
Oil-free lotions and sunscreen
Any prescriptions and tampons: Did you remember your birth control?
The following items are necessary, but also provide another chance to show your style. This is the section to splurge in.
Sunglasses: If there is one item you spend a bit extra on, make it this one. Italians know their sunglasses, so buy something real and classic to make the rest of your outfits look that much more high end.
1 hat: Another item that will add an extra touch to your look, but one that doesn’t have to be extravagant. This could be left to purchase in Italy as traveling with hats can be annoying. I recommend a Madeline hat, because this is one of the few places in the world you can get away with wearing one.
Sunscreen: Mentioned this once before, but must do it again. People sometimes forget to use sunscreen when they’re not at a beach or by the pool, but the sun is just as strong in the city. Splurge on bottle specifically for your face.
It’s hard to give a full list of tech essentials, because it’s different for each person, but these few items should not be forgotten.
1 or more European adapters: Depending on how many things you’ll need to charge at the same time.
iPod and/or computer: You’ll want one some sort of internet connection to tap into free wifi for various things. If you don’t need a computer, stick with an iPod or iPhone do you can just have it on you at all times. Use this to journal about your trip.
This, that and other things.
These miscellaneous items will come in handy on your Roman Holiday for different reasons.
1 water bobble: Rome has several drinking fountains around the city available to the public. I suggest a “water bobble“. These BPA-free, reusable bottles come with activated carbon filters to clear your water of any chemical and impurities. They’re light, small and look nifty.
1 large bag: You’ll need something bigger throughout the day to carry a few of the items listed above, plus memorabilia picked up along the way. To stick with your summer style, go for a straw or canvas bag.
1 small purse: Keep all your valuables inside this and in your purse throughout the day. At night, ditch the big bag and take only this small clutch along.
1 guidebook and a good read: Rome is a heavily-toured and somewhat confusing city to get around, so make sure you have a good guide with map, a pocket city guide will suffice. Plus, bring something enjoyable to read while drinking a cappuccino or glass of red wine. Rome inspires a lot of writers, so maybe try one set in the city, like “Angels and Demons” or “Eat Pray Love“.
This breezy style guide will make sure you’re not only living, but looking like your live la dolce vita.
About the author: Bobbi is a long term traveler and freelance writer. She’s spent most of the last three years down under with an Australian and New Zealand working holiday visa. The rest of those three years have been spent galavanting in SE Asia. She writes about her adventures on Heels and Wheels. Visit her website or get to know her on Twitter or Facebook.
Book a Viator Tour Before You Go
Rome Segway Tour – $85.62*
See the sights of Ancient Rome by Segway on a 3-hour tour, passing incredible monuments like the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. This small-group tour is limited to eight people, ensuring you’ll receive personalized attention from your guide.
Rome Food Walking Tour – $85.62*
Find the best food spots in town on a 4-hour Rome Food Walking Tour! Led by a local food-loving guide, your tour includes nine regional food tastings as you explore Rome’s foodie neighborhood — Testaccio. Meet colorful traders at a gourmet market and hear recipe secrets from the people behind Rome’s oldest food traditions. Sample gelato at Rome’s oldest gelateria, taste fresh pasta in an award-winning trattoria, relax with wine and more — a must-do culinary experience in Rome!