Every time a friend or family member comes to visit me in Florence, one of their pre-departure questions will inevitably be “What should I pack?” After living in this city on and off for nearly 10 years, I’ve learned that there are certain things that can make one’s trip to Florence much more enjoyable. Here I’ve compiled a list of seven essential items that no visitor to Florence should be without.
1) An umbrella! Even though Tuscany is famed for its sun, we occasionally get bouts of fairly heavy rainfall, particularly from about November to May. A small, portable umbrella will become one of your best friends as you make your way around the city.
2) Mosquito repellant. Although many of us are only used to encountering these pesky critters during the summer, they are a year-round presence here in Florence. Depending on how mild the winter is and how much rainfall we get, you can expect a couple of bites well into January/February. I recommend bringing a small container of repellent just to be on the safe side.
3) Good, no make that excellent walking shoes. Florence is a walking city and the wrong pair of shoes can end up leaving you in agony. Don’t choose this moment to break in a new pair of boots, bring a pair that is tried and tested. And while some guide books may caution you against wearing tennis shoes because you’ll stand out like a tourist, I say that it is better to be comfortable and enjoy the city rather than worry about what the Italians think of your footwear.
4) A Crumpled City Map. My husband and I found these maps to be an invaluable resource on our travels across Europe and the United States. They are cloth maps that you can literally crumple into a ball and stash in your bag at a moment’s notice. They’re lightweight, waterproof, essentially indestructible, and much more user-friendly than either a paper map or the map application on your smart phone. You can pick up one of these maps on Amazon or directly from the Crumpled City map designers’ website.
5) Sunglasses. In Florence, you will inevitably be spending a lot of time outside and it can be difficult to admire the sites when you have the Tuscan sun directly in your eyes.
6) Sunscreen. This item goes hand-in-hand with the last one. As I said before, the Tuscan sun can get pretty intense and a sunburn is the last thing you need to worry about during your travels. I would recommend buying sunscreen before getting to Italy as its needlessly expensive on this side of the Dolomites.
7) Outlet adapters. In this technological age, very few of us travel without our cell phones, tablets, and/or laptops. However, none of these things will work without the proper outlet adapters. In Italy, we use rounded, two or three-prong plugs such as these pictured to the right. If you are thinking about skipping this item on your packing list, keep in mind that it can be difficult to find adapters that convert to Italian outlets in Italy. It’s much easier to pick them up in your home country at a fraction of the price.