— Life —

Clothing Tips for Backpacking Italy

Kim Alexis, lunch in Cortona
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My luggage for 17 days in Italy.
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On my recent trip to Italy, I took only a backpack. Knowing I would be walking for 30-minute stretches while I traveled to five different cities–Venice, Florence, Montepulciano, Siena and Rome–I kept the weight to about 20 pounds. Now that I’m home, I realize I should have been easier on myself because bringing less clothes and shoes made me feel denied and punished.

I went too far trying to “stay minimal,” and for the next trip, I’ll bring things that make me feel more at home, no matter where I am.

I began my trip by flying into the Venice airport. There are a lot of small, narrow alleys they call streets, but with no cars, so I walked 15 minutes to a water taxi, which dropped me off at the top of the island. That was the last taxi I took until the morning I left for the airport, 17 days later.

After only two hours of sleep, I walked with my backpack for 20 minutes until I found my small hotel. It felt so great to put that pack down! The first day, I must have walked 10 miles—without the pack—trying to stay awake. While it was painful, it quickly helped me get on Italian time, which was eight hours ahead of my time at home.

If you’d asked me when I left if I’d packed the most necessary, minimum things, I would have given an emphatic “yes.” I thought I’d covered all the bases, but I learned a few things like I got by with less clothes than I brought, and craved things I didn’t bring like hair conditioner, my flatiron and perfume.

Each night I wore my black capri pants with basic, solid, colored sleeveless tops—the restaurants there are hot—and walking to and from dinner, I wore a black sweater jacket. To dress up my dinner look, I added colorful silk scarves, which I don’t wear here, but I loved wearing them there. I brought two solid color dresses and two black skirts I hardly wore. It rained a lot and sometimes I had a 30-minute walk to dinner. I took my black sneakers but would have felt more dressed up and fit in better if I’d brought my short, black boots.

The day outfits I took worked well: walking shoes, capri pants with pockets and tee shirts with long-sleeved pullovers. I felt best in muted colors and didn’t wear my bright colors often. My small over the shoulder purse was priceless as was my raincoat.

I now have a greater appreciation for America and all of our benefits in this country and the little things that make my house a home. Don’t get me wrong, I had a marvelous time and found the people in Italy to be warm and generous. I am just happy to be home.


  • Jen Lawrence May 25, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Kudos for even attempting to do this! And brava for walking so much, especially with cobblestones. I’m sure you had some marvellous adventures. It’s funny what a difference our creature comforts make, isn’t it. I need my toner and un-shampoo or I feel beside myself!

    • Kim Alexis May 25, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      I found that I could survive without certain creature comfort’s but that I was much happier with a few small things. It was interesting to learn that about myself

  • 1010 Park Place May 25, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    While you were in Italy, I was in France for 12 days. Like you, I wore the same clothes and could have left a lot of them at home and brought others. When I travel for short trips, I pack perfectly. Perhaps I need to always pack like I won’t be gone for long. xoxox, Brenda

  • Mamavalveeta03 May 31, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I used to second-guess myself all the time, but I try not to anymore since my honeymoon 34 years ago. My hubby and I went wilderness camping in The Boundary Waters Canoe area on the border of Minnesota and Canada, and he must have reminded me to “pack small” at least a hundred times, considering that we’d have a huge pack of food, a canoe, plus all of the things we’d packed to “portage” from lake to lake. But I figured “It’s our honeymoon, so I’ve got to bring my penoir, my earrings, my makeup and toiletries,” right? OMG!!! It meant at least three portages at every lake…and there were a lot of them!!!

    I now pack only a carry-on whenever I travel.

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