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Don’t Forget to Pack these 12 for your Summer Vacation in Rome
15 May 2018

If you’re getting ready for a summer vacation in Rome, there are a few obvious things you’d pack for any trip: sunglasses, swim suit, passport, credit card, etc. But if you’ve never been to Italy before and you’re not sure what to expect when you get here, we came up with a list of 12 things not to forget to pack.

Rome can get hot and humid in the summer months, so sun protection, drinking plenty of water, and appropriate clothes are a must. Summer rain storms aren’t uncommon either, so while it won’t be a cold rain stay dry and pack an umbrella. Rome is a very safe city in general but unfortunately isn’t free of pickpockets in crowded areas, so a little preparation for a worst-case scenario can save a headache later.

We’ve written a few other posts on how to beat the heat in Rome, like staying cool with Italian frozen treats, a guide to the best gelato, and ideas for how to escape the heat in the streets.

1. Sunscreen

A no brainer, but don’t forget a good sunscreen with sufficient SPF to keep you protected from long hours in the sun. Not listed but equally important are sunglasses to protect from glare and strain on your eyes and a hat to keep the top of your head covered. Most sidewalks are uncovered (unlike other European cities and cities in Northern Italy), so there’s less shade on the streets (especially with the extra tourists in high season). If you do forget your sunscreen, you’ll be able to pick some up locally at any pharmacy, or Farmacia, indicated by a lit sign of a green cross.

2. Cash

This also may seem obvious but many places in the center of Rome won’t accept card – even if it’s clear they can accept it. Call it “avoiding traceability” or “avoiding processing fees,” it’s not uncommon that your request to pay with card will prompt a negative response. So to avoid a frustrating situation, make sure to travel with some cash. You will be expected to pay in cash for small amounts like coffee or gelato, or generally anything under €20. Correct change is also encouraged, so keep your coins and use them as much as possible!

3. Comfortable Walking Shoes

The cobblestone streets of Rome are made of Basalt, a very dense stone that will take a toll on your joints. Comfortable walking shoes are not just to protect your feet (though this is an important factor), they are also to protect your knees, hips, and back. If you opt for flip-flops or some other kind of non-shock absorbing footwear, you’ll definitely be feeling it after an entire day walking around the city.

4. Umbrella

It’s not uncommon for the skies to open up from time to time in the summer. It’s generally a quite welcome change as it will clear up the sky and humidity and make for more pleasant days. But don’t get caught in the rain without an umbrella! You’ll find that just moments before the rain starts there will be guys selling umbrellas on the street, vying for the attention of those without. But these umbrellas, usually sold for about €5 or so, are very cheap and those €5 could be better spent on an aperitivo or gelato later on.

5. Italian Phrase Book

Millions of visitors pass through Rome each year and don’t speak Italian, so if you don’t know a word of the language you’ll be fine. But for a more hassle-free experience, bring a simple phrase book with you to help communicate with the locals. Chances are you’ll come across a server somewhere who won’t understand what you’re trying to say, so rather than move on whip out your handy phrase book to help communicate. It’s also likely that your service experience, anywhere you go, will significantly improve if you try to communicate with locals in Italian.

6. Tylenol or Advil

This may sound strange to suggest, but the over-the-counter painkillers in Italy are much less effective than standard Tylenol or Advil from the states. Especially to combat heat headaches or stress headaches, you’ll be glad you’ve got something with more of a kick. The same goes for your favorite allergy medication. Stronger doses of any kind of medicine in Italy usually require a prescription from a doctor. Upset stomach or digestion medicine, however, is more available and of the same effectiveness as what you’re likely used to.

7. Swim Cap

If you plan on taking a dip in the pool, it’s very common that swim caps are required (even in hotels). The pool might offer them for swimmers, but if you bring your own it’s better. Also note that pool etiquette in Italy requires all swimmers to shower before and after using the pool for hygienic reasons.

8. Printed copy of your passport

It’s fairly common knowledge that all travelers keep a copy of their passport with them when they leave their native country. Often this is a digital copy, kept in an email so that it doesn’t get lost and it’s always available. But in Italy physical, paper copies are typically preferred. State officials can request to see your documentation at any time – traffic stops are common but even at the metro or at a museum – so it’s best to be prepared with a paper copy. Keep it folded up in your wallet, and you won’t have to think about it.

9. Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is essential on any given hot, summer day in Rome. Fortunately every hundred meters or so there is another fountain (or nasone) cycling fresh, perfectly safe drinking water. Rome’s water system is famous for a reason – for thousands of years the Rome water system of aquaducts and pipes brought water from the lakes to the population of the city. And today the system continues to keep Romans hydrated. So bring a refillable water bottle from home and fill up throughout the day!

*Looking for a restroom? You won’t find many public toilets (and even if you do, you’ll probably want to opt for something else). Instead look for the nearest coffee bar. All bars are required to have a bath, and it’s not necessary to buy something first (though we can’t guarantee you won’t get a grimace here and there).

10. Light Scarf

To keep cool it’s only natural that you’ll dress accordingly, and bare shoulders and short skirts or shorts usually comes with that. Just make sure if you’re planning on visiting any churches (like the Vatican) that you bring a scarf with you to cover your shoulders and/or legs if you’re asked. Sometimes churches will have shawls for women to wear, but it’s not a guarantee and the attendant will keep you from entering if you’re not dressed properly.

11. Bag with zipper closure

Unfortunately Rome isn’t entirely free from pickpockets. Crowded metro stations, buses and piazzas are the most common places for pickpockets to use their swift hands to grab a wallet well before you realize it’s missing. A bag with a zipper closure is the best measure against pickpockets, as well as keeping your bag in your front (e.g. don’t wear your backpack on your back when riding the metro or bus, hold it in front of you – entirely zipped shut and even locked if possible).

If you do fall victim to a pickpocket, you can report it to any officials nearby but consider whatever was taken as lost. Cancel any cards immediately and report any suspicious activity to your bank.

12. Portable phone/device charger

Finding an working and free power outlet to charge your phone or device can send you on a wild goose chase. While they’re not impossible to find save yourself the hassle and pack a portable charger that you can carry with you. This way you won’t be without your Google Maps or Instagram and won’t waste any time searching for an outlet.

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don't forget to pack these 12 things for your summer vacation in Rome

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Have you visited Rome in the summer? What items did you find most useful? Share your tips and advice in the comments below!

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  • […] hot summer air isn’t enjoyable for everyone – but for those adventurous types that come prepared and don’t mind turning a few shades darker in the sun, a long walk is one of the best ways to […]

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