Choosing what to wear in Italy in spring is a little challenging. While this is a wonderful time to take advantage of fewer crowds, a warmer climate, and increased daylight hours – the weather is fickle.
Italian springs are unpredictable with the prospect of downpours and cold snaps. As a result, what to wear in Italy in March may not reflect what you’d pack for April or May.
The other thing to consider ahead of any trip to Italy is fashion. Italians are heralded for their inherent sense of style. Even if you’re not one for following trends, you’ll appreciate blending in while traveling in Italy.
So what do Italian women wear in spring? Let’s just say, you’re unlikely to catch a Milanese or Roman woman sporting a novelty rain poncho.
What’s the Weather Like in Italy in Spring?
Spring in Italy covers the months of March, April, and May. Once the tail end of winter thaws, the weather conditions improve gradually while days grow longer after the switch to daylight saving time. Rain is always possible during spring, especially the first half. However, it’s not as rainy as the fall season in Italy.
Of course, Southern Italy is the warmest part of the country in spring. The seaside is pleasant at this time of year but it may not feel warm enough to swim until the close of spring. As a basic guideline and bearing in mind microclimates and unreliable conditions, this is a snapshot of what to expect from Italy in spring:
- Northern Italy (including Milan, Venice, Como, and Bologna): 57°F-73°F / 14°C-23°C
- Central Italy (including Florence, Rome, and Pisa): 60°F-73°F / 16°C-23°C
- Southern Italy (including Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Bari, and Ostuni): 62°F-75°F / 17°C-24°C.
- Sicily: 64-78°F / 18°C-26°C.
The northernmost parts of Italy – such as the Dolomites – remain significantly cooler and gradually warm up later in spring. In terms of what to wear in Italy in spring for an itinerary in the mountains, you’ll need to think in terms of thermals and proper winter gear.
Regardless of where you are planning to visit in Italy this Spring, be sure to check the upcoming weather shortly before you pack your bag. Things can change quickly with storms and you don’t want to pack for late Spring when there’s a cold snap coming or vice versa.
What’s it Like to Travel to Italy in Spring?
Spring – shoulder season – is a wonderful time to travel to Italy. While it will not be quiet, you will be ahead of the wave of tourists that arrive in July. The temperatures are far more comfortable than in summer which is a sweaty affair. By comparison, choosing what to wear in Italy in summer may even feel harder than in spring!
If you travel to Italy in spring you can enjoy a city break or venture out into nature. The cities are well-supplied with art galleries, museums, and trattorias if the weather takes a turn while the green spaces will be abloom.
It’s worth checking out some of the best Italian beach towns although swimming isn’t necessarily on the table until the end of spring. Definitely consider an overnight stay or even just a day trip to the Cinque Terre as mid-April onwards is ideal for hiking between the fraziones.
Spring is a nice time to plan an adventurous Northern Italy road trip or Pompeii day trip. The main tourist season starts in June and peaks in July/August and these popular and scenic areas can be rather overwhelming.
What to Wear in Italy in Spring: March, April, and May
Deciding what to pack for Italy in spring will be shaped by your destinations and the types of activities you’re planning. As you should with a winter packing list for Italy, it’s wise to adopt a capsule wardrobe mindset and rely on jewelry to spruce up in the evenings.
But what do Italian women wear in spring?
Women tend to play around with colors at this time of year, especially as the season commences. You’ll spot a mixture of sharp jeans paired with silky blouses, tailored pants and dresses, and summer dresses as you edge toward May.
Italian women are fashionable and stylish but never in complicated ensembles. Layering is in yet overdressing is never a thing.
Let’s “address” what to wear in Italy in spring. And, do keep an eye on the local forecast in the days leading up to your trip dates and be ready to make a couple of last-minute tweaks.
1. Destination/Itinerary Appropriate Footwear
Choose your footwear wisely. Italian cities are known for their cobblestone streets and hilly ascents, which means you want to focus on comfortable shoes that you can wear for long periods of time.
A flat pair of ankle boots is a reliable choice for what to wear in Italy in March and April. Rain is probable and as such you’ll want to choose a water-resistant material. Pick a pair of Chelsea boots or thick-soled booties in a neutral color and make sure you break them in ahead of travel. If you have the cash, boots by Dr. Marten’s are a win-win for Italian travel in early spring.
If space allows, you’ll appreciate having two pairs of shoes for your springtime jaunt. Your second pair might be a smartish pair of comfy sneakers. It’s not common to see Italians donning sporty-looking clothing so you’ll want to go with a classic brand such as Converse or Superga.
These will look perfectly fine with jeans or a floaty frock during the day. If you travel later in the season, a pair of Rainbow sandals, slip-on Alpargatas, or ballet flats are alternative options to weigh up.
On the other hand, you might have a more outdoorsy itinerary in mind for this time of year. In that case, you’ll want to think about hiking boots for what to wear in Italy in spring.
2. Colorful Jeans, Pants, and Skirts
A pair of well-fitting jeans is a must for a winter in Italy packing list. Jeans are recommended for the early stage of this transitional season. Provided you choose wisely, you can rely on jeans on a chilly spring day or dress them up with a nice top in the evening.
Ripped, overly baggy, or light-wash jeans aren’t the best choice for Italy but a smarter pair of navy or black skinny jeans will look fine.
When thinking about what to wear in Italy in April, you could make a splash with a pair of colored jeans or pants. After all, spring is the season of bright hues and pastel shades and you can wear these with tops in neutral colors.
If you prefer to wear skirts and dresses, this is the perfect opportunity to dig out the styles you feel most like yourself in. Italian women tend to wear longer styles in classic cuts and natural materials. Remember that Italy is fairly conservative and there is a dress code for visiting churches and holy sites.
3. Cotton Leggings
A pair of leggings might not scream chic Italian fashion but they’ll have your back if the weather is temperamental. Pack a simple pair of black cotton leggings that you can wear with a selection of tops as well as with dresses, skirts, and jumper dresses.
They’re more comfortable than tights during the day and practical if you wind up on an unexpected hike.
The other perk of black leggings is that they’re so versatile you can wear them from day to night. If the weather heats up in the afternoon you can slip them off and stash them in your bag. And, if you stay out late, you can pop them back on for the night.
Coordinate your selected trousers and skirts with a mix of tops, shirts, and sweaters.
As with any travel packing list, you’ll appreciate natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and soft wool. And, the golden rule when picking what to pack for Italy in spring is to think in terms of layers.
Subject to the length of your trip, you’ll want to pack a couple of vests/t-shirts and some long-sleeved tops.
Pack a cardigan or two as an outer layer but leave your hoodie back home (or just wear it on the plane). In addition, add one or two dressier tops or shirts for a posh brunch or rooftop cocktails. Go easy on the tops if you’re packing dresses: you need to save space for souvenirs.
5. Light Coat or Jacket
You’ll need to select your choice of coat or jacket based on the climate and weather forecast in your chosen destination. In terms of what to wear in Italy in March, you’ll want something warmer than you might opt for later in the season.
A denim jacket will suffice for what to wear in Italy in April or May, especially if you’re planning on taking summer dresses and skirts in place of jeans. Just remember again that ripped or fussy styles aren’t very typical in Italy.
Sunglasses are essential for every season but they are the backbone of fashion in Italy in spring. Protect your peepers with a pair of polarized sunglasses. Don’t stray away from oversized, vintage, or cat eye sunnies – this is a fun way to experiment with your travel look. And, they’ll look amazing in your photos.
7. Small Day Backpack
You’ll need a day bag that’ll carry your essentials and contain any layers you may shed during the day. A rucksack is the most practical option as it won’t leave you with lopsided shoulders. However, you’ll want to avoid a model that looks sporty or studenty.
The Longchamp Le Pliage backpack is the perfect reflection of fashion in Italy in spring. It’s made from a lightweight, durable canvas material and is just the right size for your personal gear.
The zip closure and snap button make it secure and you can slip it around to the front while on public transport or visiting a gallery. Seeing as museums are strict about the size of bags permitted inside, this one should clear most galleries. This vintage backpack is a cheaper alternative that works much the same.
8. Crossbody Bag
In addition to your day bag, you’ll welcome having a small crossbody bag to wear at night in Italy. This one is designed to hold a smartphone, credit card, room key, and lipstick. Keep it around your shoulders to avoid the risk of pickpocketing. It’s also small enough to slip inside your day bag when you’re out and about.
9. Compact Travel Umbrella
Italy is more unstable between March and April. If you travel during this timeframe, you’ll need to consider a waterproof jacket or at least take an umbrella. This compact umbrella packs down small and comes in a wide range of colors.
A scarf is an absolute must for what to pack for Italy in spring. Not only do scarves shield you against wind and temperature changes but they also dress up an outfit and add a twist to a spartan ensemble. Opt for a lightweight scarf that pairs with your chosen jacket and any other accessories.
11. Fedora or Panama Hat
A hat is not an essential element of fashion in Italy in spring but it’s a fun way to get creative with your travel style and protect your scalp when temperatures rise. While it’s not quite the time for a wide-brim hat, a fedora or Panama hat is ideal for this time of year.
The Squishee straw sun hat is designed to crumple into your main luggage or day bag. It pops right back to its normal shape when you take it out. It’s a bit of an investment but it should outlive cheaper alternatives.
Remember to always respect the Italian custom of removing your hat while dining inside or visiting a church. It’s mandatory at the Vatican Museums and expected at all other places of worship.
Consider how the beach might influence what to wear in Italy in spring. Realistically, you won’t swim in the sea during March or April but you might get lucky in May. That being so, the water will feel pretty brisk.
If you are traveling to a coastal area (especially in the south) during May you should pack your swimsuit. Two should be enough at this time of year. I love these simple one-pieces from Amazon. They come in tons of colors and patterns and are a great price.
As the beaches in Italy are often pebble rather than sand, a pair of aqua socks will come in handy. These are especially important for children.
On the other hand, you can pack a pair of Teva universal sandals for beach or promenade walks. This also works as your alternative pair of footwear if you’re traveling later in spring.
13. Perfume, Jewelry, and Cosmetics
A handful of accessories are the final considerations for what to pack for Italy in spring. Start by decanting your favorite fragrance into a mini perfume atomizer that you can carry in your day bag.
You can also select jewelry that compliments your chosen travel outfits. Pick out statement accessories (spring is the moment for bold colors and stacking rings) and avoid wearing lots of pieces in one go. Pack your selection in a jewelry travel organizer to avoid damage while in transit.
What to Wear in Italy in Spring: The Men’s Edit
Italian men are as intrinsically stylish as women. For the most part, male travelers can replicate the same principles as suggested for women: a smart pair of dark jeans or colored chinos, ankle boots or non-athletic sneakers, and an array of t-shirts and lightweight sweaters. A dress shirt isn’t really necessary but you might feel more comfortable having a button-up shirt or something similar in your luggage.