When you are packing for your trip to Sicily, you might not know all of the best things to bring. Here is a packing list of must-haves, and also some helpful tips to blend in with refined Sicilian locals.
Hey, it’s Nico here, your full-blooded Sicilian friend. Today, I’m here to help you pack for Sicily or Italy in general.
First, let me give you an idea of the mentality when it comes to clothing in Italy. Then, I’ll share a couple of tips and guidelines on what to wear. Lastly, I’ll give you a list of things you shouldn’t forget. Cool?
Before we start, let me give you two important notes.
First, everything I’m telling you in this video only applies if you want to blend in with the locals and if you want to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
But if you’re one of those people who says, “I like to dress up as Batman, and I’m going to spend a week in Italy dressed like that. Nobody gets to tell me what I have to wear.” well, nobody’s forcing you to follow the local trend.
Second, this isn’t a lesson in Italian fashion because I’m not the right person to do that. What I’m giving you is just my humble perspective as someone who lives here.
I’m gonna be talking in general terms, okay? Don’t expect me to give you fashion tips like I’m Giorgio Armani.
Of course, as in every other country in the world, you’ll find all the shades of color. In Italy, as in any other country, you can find places where people dress up, and places where they dress down.
Some folks are meticulous about their appearance and want to look their best. Or people like my dad who lives by the philosophy “drink, eat, and screw everything” and would show up to a wedding in garden clothes if it weren’t for my mom.
I’ll just be talking about the average, cool? Hope that’s clear.
So, without further ado, let’s get into what to pack for Sicily.
I just want to clarify that in this article I’ll be speaking in general terms and hope that’s clear. As in any other country, in Italy we have all shapes and colors.
How important is clothing in Sicily (and Italy)?
Clothing is very important in Italy. In Italy, what you wear says a lot about you. People put a lot of thought into their outfits, making sure they communicate the right message and make a good impression.
In Italy, we live by the concept of “bella figura,” which basically means making a good impression. So, we always try to look our best.
Does this mean you’ll see people at the grocery store in fancy tuxedos? No way. Italians just really care about putting together an outfit that looks good and fits the occasion, with colors and textures that match.
Italians are just more careful about NOT pairing things that, according to Italian standards (which aren’t universal), could look out of place.
For example, you won’t often see an Italian wearing sporty spongy socks with summer sandals, swimwear with running shoes, or slacks with a short-sleeved t-shirt. Or, you’ll rarely see Italians wearing flip flops to a city center restaurant or shorts and tank tops at a bar.
Clothes meant for specific contexts, such as the beach, aren’t worn for a night out to dinner.
So it’s not so much about always being fashionable, but more about pairing your clothes well, making sure they match each other and most importantly, match the occasion you’re in.
The idea of trying to look your best can vary in intensity depending on where you are in Italy. Cities like Milan or Florence have a stronger sense of fashion and style, while in places like Sicily it’s not as strong, but it’s still there.
In Sicily, the style is pretty relaxed, especially during the day. But in the evening when people go out to restaurants or bars, they tend to dress up a bit more.
It’s not as fancy as in big cities like Milan, but people still care about their appearance. Instead of dressing up, they focus on not wearing combinations that would look out of place or unkempt.
What does this mean for tourists visiting Italy? Do you have to stress about what to pack? Not at all.
You have two options. Option one, you don’t care about the local dress code and what locals think, and you can even go to a restaurant in slippers. The worst thing that can happen is locals may label you as a foreigner.
Option two, you can try to fit in by following the local dress code (it’s not about wearing fancy or expensive stuff). You only do this if you want to blend in and not stick out as a tourist, not because you have to make Italians happy.
It’s not just about looking good, but also conveying the right message and fitting in with the occasion. You don’t have to be a fashion icon, but it’s important to mix and match your outfits properly.
Tips to Dress Appropriately in Sicily: Blending in with the Locals
Alright, now let’s talk about a couple of tips that could help you blend in and avoid looking like a tourist.
Just to be clear, these are just my personal thoughts. I was born in Italy and have lived in various places, so from my experience of comparing different cultures, I might have noticed some patterns that I’d like to share.
But these aren’t set in stone. If you’re a foreigner who’s been to Italy before and have some observations to add, feel free to leave a comment.
The first tip to remember is to always fit in with the context. Never step outside of context. What do I mean by this?
It’s not typical to show up at a city center restaurant wearing swimwear and flip flops. Workout clothes like sweatsuits and running shoes should be reserved for the gym or stadium and not the bar. Makeup and jewelry are more appropriate for the restaurant, but not for the beach. Black leather pants are for the club, not for morning coffee.
Basically, try to match your outfit to the setting.
The second tip is to ensure that your clothing is consistent. That means Italians never mix items from different environments.
For instance, they wouldn’t wear gym socks with sandals, sport shoes with formal attire, summer clothes with winter boots, or beach tank tops with pants. In Italy, these are unusual combinations that people don’t typically wear and can easily give away a person as a foreigner.
The third thing to keep in mind is to not overdo it. Wearing too much makeup, too much perfume, too many jewelry, flashy clothes that don’t match, bright colors that clash, strong contrasts, sunglasses at a club, obvious brand names, and too many sparkles can be seen as tacky.
In Sicily, we might use the word “tascio” to describe this. Italians in the US often use the word “guido” to describe this type of person.
The fourth thing to keep in mind is that as the night goes on, Italians tend to dress up more. Let’s say from happy hour on, people start paying more attention to what they’re wearing. During the day, except for jobs that require certain attire, people tend to be more relaxed.
And lastly, people from middle age and up tend to steer clear of overly sporty or trendy clothing. They tend to dress more conservatively because they feel silly otherwise.
Again, these aren’t universal rules and just because Italians do it doesn’t mean it’s right. People everywhere have their own views and this is just the general view in Italy.
Tips on What to Wear in Different Situations in Sicily
Okay, now let’s look at some examples of what you might wear based on different situations during your trip to Italy.
Sightseeing. This one’s pretty simple: dress comfortably and however you like. Just remember that inside churches, you need to have modest attire. So show as little skin as possible.
Beach. Everyone wears flip flops, both men and women, no athletic shoes. Women wear sundresses with a swimsuit underneath, big beach bags, and no makeup. Men wear swim trunks and a t-shirt, which should be taken off on the beach and put back on when leaving. Although some may go shirtless in restaurants near the beach, know that it’s considered tacky.
Dinner, aperitivo or a bar? It depends on the place, but usually people try to look their best. To avoid standing out, go for a casual look, but avoid athletic wear. Think of it as dressed-down chic. Women often like to show their femininity, so you’ll see them wearing heels, booties, evening sandals, or stylish sneakers. They’ll have well-planned outfits, whether it’s a dress, skirt, or pants. Same goes for men – dressed in pants, jeans, shirts, or sweaters, with a focus on a well-put-together look. Guys often wear sneakers or casual shoes, not gym shoes. And remember, don’t wear clothes meant for other contexts.
Club. If you’re going to a club or dancing bar, the rule is to dress up. Women wear heels or evening sandals, makeup, and dress to the nines. Men wear nice shirts or nicer tops, and no athletic shoes. Remember that many beach bars are also fancy, and if you don’t have appropriate attire, the bouncer won’t let you in.
Tips for Dressing in Sicily: What to Wear Based on the Four Seasons
Okay, now let’s talk about what to wear in Sicily based on the four different seasons.The climate in Sicily varies depending on the season.
In the summer, temperatures can soar, so it’s important to dress in light and breathable fabrics. Loose-fitting dresses, skirts, and shorts are great options to stay comfortable in the heat. For men, light-colored linen or cotton shirts paired with khaki or light-colored shorts are a good choice.
In the fall and winter, temperatures in Sicily can drop, so it’s important to pack layers. A light jacket or sweater is often all that’s needed in the fall, while a heavier coat or jacket is necessary in the winter. Scarves and hats are also good options to keep warm.
When it comes to footwear, comfortable shoes are a must for sightseeing and exploring the city. Sandals or comfortable sneakers are perfect for the summer months, while closed-toe shoes or boots are better for the cooler seasons.
Remember, always check the weather forecast before packing and adjust your wardrobe accordingly.
Packing List for Sicily
Below you will find a list of the must bring items that you should be packing. I have neglected to add things that you should already know are must have, such as underwear, socks, and the like.
Here are the must-bring items:
- Your Photo ID and Passport (be mindful of their expiration dates too)
- General Hygiene Products: Toothpaste, toothbrush, etc. (most hotels will not have these)
- Sunglasses/Sun Hat (there are only 3 months a year that you will not need these)
- Light Scarf (some churches require covered shoulders, and this is a quick fix for that)
- 2 Pin Electrical Adapter – Round (many hotels will not provide these adapters)
- Map and Driver’s License [if renting car] (check that your license allows driving in Italy)
- Portable Cellphone Charger (you might be out from early morning to late at night)
- Cash [converted to Euros] (many places do not allow credit cards)
- Health Information Documentation [in Italian] (blood type, allergies, vaccinations, etc.)
- Copy of Travel Documentation (in the event they are lost or potentially stolen)
- Walking Guides (print these off because internet might not be readily available)
- Sunscreen (especially if you are planning to arrive May-October)
- First Aid For Jellyfish Stings (you might encounter jellyfish on some beaches)
- Fold-Up Umbrella (if you come in the winter months)
- Camera (there will be a lot you want pictures of here)
- Light Backpack (useful to carry everything on day trips of sightseeing)
- Repellent for Mosquitos (especially annoying during the summer months)
- Beach Towel and Swimwear (if you plan to enjoy the beaches during the summer)
- Hiking Boots (if you intend to climb Mt. Etna or other mountainous areas)
Just a quick tip for your trip to Sicily. Some airlines can be a real pain in the neck about luggage size, so you might want to consider buying stuff like sunscreen once you get here. Trust me, you’ll find it everywhere you go.
Alright, folks, it’s time to wrap up this article on Sicilian dress code. To sum it up, Sicilian fashion is generally more relaxed compared to the northern parts of Italy, but that doesn’t mean people don’t care about their appearance.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to stress about following the local dress code, but if you want to blend in and not stick out as a tourist, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your clothing choices.
And let’s not forget about the most important rule – never step outside the context! You don’t want to show up at a fancy restaurant in beachwear or wear gym clothes to a bar. Make sure your clothing matches the occasion you’re in.
As for the summer season, it’s hot out here! So, make sure to bring light textures and fabrics to stay comfortable. And when it comes to dressing up, remember that it’s at night that Italians get meticulous about their appearance.
If you have any questions or comments, drop them down below. And remember, whether you want to follow the local dress code or not, just be yourself and have fun!