When deciding what type of clothing to take while studying abroad the first thing you might do is check the differences in weather. I was there during the winter so I expected colder weather. If this isn’t the type of weather you would like to be in I would suggest going in a different term. Yet knowing it’s cold or hot is still pretty vague and only does so much with helping on what to pack. This is where I would like to give a helping hand to give you a better understanding on what to pack in order to not overpack. As for weather I have included four charts here to describe the differences between the weather in Rome and Santa Barbara. To basically sum up these charts, Rome is definitely more cold than Santa Barbara to the point where you should not leave your house without a jacket. Let me not worry you though, Rome is not freezing. There are definitely colder places on the east coast.
Now that you know that wearing layers in Rome is important, something I was unaware of was the “dress code”. No, there is no actual dress code in Rome but obviously it being a fashion forward country you will soon begin to notice everyone wearing nice coats and jackets. No they are not flashy with brands but rather convenient.
You might wonder why this is important? Well you will not be on your typical college campus where you wear leggings and a hoodie to class. Being “undressed” as such will make you stand out and appear more as a tourist. Luckily I already owned several coats and nice long cardigans so I blended in but the times I attempted to just leave with a hoodie I was aware of the odd stares and feeling underdressed. Not that I am suggesting you to go out and buy expensive coats and jackets. I would rather suggest buying one or two black, grey, brown, nice neutral color coats and once arriving in Rome(especially after you notice what I am talking about) buying more coats since they are commonly worn they have more options and are more affordable.
Also a pro with blending in as a local will lower your risk of pickpocketing. Overall Italians are usually more “overdressed” so I would avoid casual dressing and instead have a professor european kind of vibe.
From my previous talk on why coats are essential you might have gotten the impression to completely leave your hoodies at home. This is why I am here to make clear that yes take your hoodies, long sleeves, and shirts which will be part of the layers under your coats and jackets. It may seem practical to bring a lot of clothing options, but it’s important to remember that you can and will buy clothes in Italy. Avoid overpacking by buying some of your wardrobe in your host country. Meaning do not take an unnecessary quantity of T-shirts especially with it being cold no one will see them and you will have the opportunity to wash them. Yet I would suggest bringing a few nice dress shirts for nice dinners or attending mass.
When it comes to bottoms I would say to take maybe two weeks worth which can include slacks, neutral leggings, jeans. You might wonder if ripped jeans are something I would suggest to wear? I would say yes because I definitely did but not jeans with extreme rips because remember it is cold and having huge holes in your pants not only would look strange but would not keep you warm.
Moving on to shoes I would suggest taking only three pairs. First, you need tennis shoes or comfortable walking shoes since you will be doing a lot of sightseeing and with the city being majority cobblestones these type of shoes are the most appropriate. The second pair I would suggest taking are boots. It occasionally rains in Rome, especially the earlier months, so it is important to have shoes that can protect you. The third pair of shoes is some type of sandal or slippers to get out of the shower and lounge around your house. The reason why I would not suggest taking other shoes is that space in your luggage is limited and you could end up buying more shoes abroad, which I did: a cute grey pair of Italian boots which I would use for mass or other formal outings.
As I express tips on what to wear, these are based on what I saw and experienced, and in no way would I want anyone to feel as if these tips are mandatory guidelines.These are only suggestions I feel would help students be aware of what to wear in regards to weather and area. This is also one way to start taking part in local practices which allows you to become more familiar with the culture.