Best of Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice, 3/30 - 4/12/2019

My sister and I will be on this trip, our first with RS.  Would love any advice as to whether to pack a warm coat, just raingear with layers, hiking boots or just walking shoes, sandals or not, daypack or just a handbag for the day away from the hotel, etc.  Trying to pack light but don't want to get there and wish I had another pair of shoes or something!  Also, did anyone have experience with pickpockets, grab and run thieves, or anything of that nature?  All the guidebooks seem to warn of rampant pickpockets, especially in Rome and other large cities in Italy.  When I first went with my husband (over 30 years ago!) it was not really a problem, but sounds much worse now?  Thanks for any information you would like to pass on!  We're looking forward to a great trip, just trying to plan as best we can to that end!     --Kathryn

  • Hi Kathryn! I've not been on this Road Scholar trip but I've been to Italy 3 times with a competitor tour company, lol.

    On the first night we were in Rome on the subway in a group, someone found a man's hand in their pocket! They didn't get anything but it's good to be prepared. I wear a money belt (easily purchased at AAA if you have a store locally or check your local Target in their travel department.). I carry my money for the day (maybe 25Euro when I'm on a tour) and maybe 1 credit card secured in my purse in an inside zipper pocket. I put the rest of my cash, my back up CC and my debit cards (unless I am going to stop at the ATM) in the money belt and wear it under my clothes. I also always carry my passport in a small ziplock in my moneybelt but many leave their's in their room.

    A day pack is too easy for someone to get into without you noticing. I'd suggest a lighter cross-body bag like a baggallini. I carry a LeSportsac Everyday bag which is light weight, has zippers across the top and an interior zipped pocket (which I pin shut). Many like the Pac-Safe or Travelon bags which have some steel cables but they are too heavy across my shoulder for me. I want to carry a bag cross body so I can swing the zippers to the front and have my hand over them if I am in a crowd.

    Shoe-wise - I have awful feet. I wear what I can comfortably walk 5-7 miles in and those are Altra athletic shoes. I have had plantar fasciitis in the past so I go with a shoe that has no elevation. You should go with what's comfortable to you. Any kind of walking or athletic shoe that is going to give you stability on cobblestones, on/on vaporettos in Venice, etc. I'd not bother with hiking boots for these cities. I hope you've got shoes that are comfortable, if not you should get them soon and try to put some miles on them. I'm not a sandal person so I don't take sandals. I do take an extra pair of athletic shoes in case the first ones get wet but I've rarely had them out of my suitcase in more than a dozen trips.

    I'd check the weather about 5 days out and make your decision on outer layers then. I'll be in Paris and Belgium about the same time you are traveling and I'm going to take my waterproof (not water-repellent) jacket and will probably have a down vest to layer under it. You probably won't need the down layer in Italy. I'll also have a cardigan (usually have a Lands End cardie for travel) and 1 longsleeve pullover. I am also pretty cold tolerant so you'll have to judge if you get cold easily. IF you under-pack you can buy something there and have a great souvenir!

    I am a light packer - can go for 8 weeks in a 21' roller suitcase. I usually pack 4 SS Tee shirts (Lands End cotton modal blend), a long sleeve tee, a 1/4 zip pullover (I've had good luck with the Macy's brand of athletic pullovers), a cardie, a rain jacket. I pack 2 pr pants, wear 1 so I have 3 pr pants. I do all sink wash when I travel but that's my preference. I also pack a 2 gal ziplock to use as my "washing machine", lol!!

    I also pack a scarf but you'll have plenty of opportunity to buy them in Italy. My first trip to Italy I came home with EIGHT scarves, lol! They are so inexpensive and beautiful!

    Have a wonderful time! Italy is so awesome. (PS Rome has a lot of steps!)

  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    Pam -- Thank you so very much for your reply! Lots of good info. Most common sense, but I did want to check in case there was something big I was completely oblivious about! So, I gather you don't check any bags when you fly? That's my goal, but with my art stuff (even compact) and a folding stool, not sure I can manage that. Still trying to find out if I can take the folding stool onto the plane in my carry-on bag. Not clear at all from TSA website! Good to know about the "wandering hands" and such!
  • In reply to kathryn041341:

    I'd guess it depends on how small your folding stool folds up to? (Yikes, what sentence construction, sorry!) I'd check with your airline on that.

    Sometimes I check, sometimes I don't. I always pack in a 21" rollaboard suitcase even for up to 8 weeks but I don't have art supplies. One of the things for me that determines whether I check or not is how much time I've got between flights. If it's a couple hours yep, I'll check. If I've got quick changes where I might miss a flight, I'll carry on. I fly from a small end-of-the-line airport so always have to transit thru at least one if not 2 airports. You may not have to worry about that!

    If you do check, I'd pack some of your art supplies in your carry on - your good brushes, sketchbook, etc. If you are carrying tubes of pigment than you'll need to check luggage as they will count in your "liquid" allowance. Probably if you have watercolors in a travel palatte that are dry, you'll be OK.

    As an artist you are going to be in absolute heaven in Italy!

    Sorry it took so long to reply. Have somehow stopped getting notifications on posts, darn it!
  • In reply to PamInIdaho:

    Thanks for your reply! Yes, I'll travel light; I have a compact palette with semi-dry paints already loaded, so no tubes. Still debating what size travel journal to pack, but have rest down to about 8"x10"x2" pouch, so the journal is the last thing. Also found a really small folding stool online -- packs down to 11" long, 3-4" diameter, which will fit in my daybag, yay! Slowly it's all coming together. Can't wait!
  • In reply to kathryn041341:

    Wow, you've done well with paring down supplies! You might be forced to shop in some Italian art supply stores - oh the horror! lol!! Have an excellent time!