My 5 Must Have Items to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in Italy!

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So I was just interviewed by a major Italian cultural blogger Rick Zullo, who hosts the weekly podcast “The Fatal Charm of Italy”. We got into talking about many things such as why Italians look dressed up when they go out (when in actual fact they are just casual by their standards) and how tourists can look less like tourists when they visit Italy!

 

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Non-Italians aren’t the only ones who worry about looking like tourists…I do as well and I’ve been living here for 8 years! When we were in Levanto a few weeks back, I put some serious thought into what I wanted to pack. We were just there for a few nights so I needed to bring clothes and accessories that could work double duty and here are 5 tips on how I attempted to get that Italian look while being a tourist!

My 5 Must Have Items to Avoid Looking Like a Tourist in Levanto, Italy

 

N°1 –  A Denim Skirt

Denim skirts are everywhere this season and will be around for the fall as well and I just bought this vintage gem the last time I was in Rimini!

 

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I’ve been on the hunt for a denim skirt for a while and even considered making one, but who has time for that?? (NOT ME!) but I did manage to make a pair of denim cut offs!  In fact, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to DIY distressed jean shorts here.  This skirt and my DIY denim cut offs were all I needed for a weekend of sightseeing, beachgoing and bike riding in Levanto.

 

Recently, one of my Instagram followers commented on a photograph of me in shorts by saying “I’m so glad you’re in shorts, I thought Italian women NEVER wore them!”.  This totally made me laugh because the percentage of Italian women in shorts is actually small and ever since I read her comment I’ve been making a mental note of how FEW times I see women in shorts!

You’ll mainly find “ragazzine” – young girls – in shorts or foreigners, and my Italian husband also says I look “like a tourist” when I wear them!  So in my denim skirt I felt pretty confident that I was sticking to the “local dress-code”.

**Remember that if you plan on going into Churches or other holy sites you’ll want to have your legs covered to your knee and a scarf or light sweater to cover your shoulders or you may be refused admission. **

 

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N° 2 – Wedge Sneakers

Which brings me to item number two – my designer wedge heeled high tops!

 

Although I’ve had a bit of a thing for wedge sneakers ever since I met this mom a few years back who was sporting a pair in a perfect winter look I’m not an early adaptor of the trend.  This pair of runners on sale for only $41 down from $98 is my FIRST “high sneaker” and I just couldn’t resist. These are still available on sale here and what I love about them is that they come in half sizes, are made by the historic French brand Le Coq Sportif and are VERY COMFORTABLE!

 

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It’s a miracle I’ve held off buying into this trend for so long because wedge heeled running shoes are EVERYWHERE in Italy.  Women of all ages from young girls to nonna’s wear them with jeans, skirts, shorts and even dresses and dress pants.

Shoes seem to be a difficult thing for tourists to grasp because although running shoes ARE TRENDING in Italy (remember this dad?), you have to choose your style carefully or you’ll end up looking a little …..well….like a tourist! A general rule of thumb is to keep your hiking boots at home (unless you actually plan on going hiking) and stick to sneakers that you would never actually jog in!

We got pretty adventurous in Levanto and rented bikes for a day of biking along the converted train route to the other towns in the Bay, and these shoes turned out to be perfect.  Plus, when we parked the bike to stop and explore the small towns along the way I felt appropriate and put together.

 

 

N°3 – Sexy Sandals

 

Now, of course a girl can’t survive on wedge sneakers alone!  Which is why I also packed a “fancy” pair of flat, leather thong sandals.  These were great for a casual evening look but also for a day at the beach. Rumors have been circling that Italians do not wear flip flops…indeed they do, but usually they only wear them at the beach.  You may even see an Italian changing into a pair of flip flops at the beach and then back into street shoes when they leave.

 

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Open toe shoes, in general, are not that practical for a few reasons, namely:

  1. Dog poop.  We’re in Italy and there’s a lot of it. STOOP AND SCOOP PEOPLE!
  2. Needles/Broken Glass –  If you are visiting certain neighborhoods it is best to have your feet covered.  As beautiful as Italy is, it also has it’s problems, especially in major urban centers.
  3. Public Washrooms. Enough said.
  4. Bikes, scooters, motorcycles & Manual Transmission!  Italians rely on bikes and scooters even more than cars in many cities so open toe shoes aren’t always safe or practical especially when driving stick.
  5. Beautiful cobblestone streets and walkways.  As stunning and picturesque as they are you’ll curse them quickly if you stub your toe!

With all of that being said, if you NEED your toes to get their summer quota of Vitamin D, opt for a pair of fun sexy sandals and stay away from the flip flops to get a more “Italian” look.

 

N°4 – A Bucket Bag

 

Even though my son, husband and I live in Italy we are still tourists when when travel around to other towns.  In Levanto we were planning on being out and about from the morning to the evening, so I had to plan how I would lug around our stuff, without looking like a backpacker (not that there is anything wrong with looking like a backpacker……well….maybe there is!)

This season, bucket and drawstring bags have been everywhere and they are a tourists’ best friend.  A bucket bag has plenty of room for provisions while still looking sleek and providing a good amount of security (I suggest staying away from open “tote style” bags!).

 

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My bucket bag is by the brand George J. Love in rose gold leather and blue suede leather with a chain drawstring closure.  This bag was on sale and is no longer available, however the same style is in three different leather/color combinations.  This is the black, soft leather version for $109 available here.

 

Obviously my little bucket bag didn’t cut it, in terms of holding all of my son’s stuff, which is why I also wore a leather flap and drawstring bucket bag/backpack.

 

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In my big leather rucksack I had enough space to carry water, a mini folding potty, a change of clothes for my son, scarves for the three of us (we fear the breeze here in Italy as though it was the plague!), snacks, sun tan lotion, bug spray, maps, tour guide boots, and a mini first aid kit!  This is a similar, real leather bag by the Italian brand “8” on sale for only $76 from $272!! You can find their whole collection of real leather backpacks here on sale.

 

leather backpack

One thing to keep in mind is that Italy is a small place.  So if you can avoid having every person in your group/family lug around a huge over-night knapsack complete with air mattress, 3 liters of water and extra hiking boots, it is probably better!  Trying to squeeze all that stuff + people into a small historic Trattoria can get really irritating, so slim down and choose a backpack that is a little more urban and not quite an eyesore!  Think, more canvas and leather and less buckles and velcro!

 

 

N°5 – Small Accessories

 

Small accessories can make a big impact on your look, and if you are pressed for space in an overnight bag or carry-on these are great items to pack for changing up a look without sacrificing precious room in your luggage.

  1. A scarf. Italians LOVES scarves! Here is a bit I’ve written before about why “la sciarpa” is so important.
  2. Bracelets. They are totally trending right now in Italy for both men and women.
  3. A belt, or two or three! Can you tell my husband is an exotic leather belt artisan?!
  4. Statement jewelry such as a necklace, ring or earrings
  5. Makeup.  Not exactly an “accessory”, but this is a very space-efficient way of going from a daytime look to an evening look and presenting yourself like a local since Italians LOVE dressing up in the evening.

 

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And those are the 5 items I used on my recent trip to Levanto look more like and Italian and less like a tourist.  I can’t objectively say that I succeeded but hey…at least I tried! Am I the only one who worries about looking like an outsider when I visit a new place? Feel free to share your dressing mishaps while on vacation.

 

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how to not dress like a tourist, avoid looking like a tourist in italy, tips to dress like a local in italy, tips to dress like a local, dress like an italian, 5 items to help you look more Italian

 

Now onto YOUR style…

 

#REASONSTODRESS Street Style Linkup

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RULES OF THE LINKUP:

#reasonstodress is a linkup intended to inspire everyone to get dressed up & OUT OF THE HOUSE!

Join in by:

  1. Adding the URL to an outfit post an Instagram photo tagged #reasonstodress
  2. Follow @reasonstodress & let me know if you’d like me to follow you back, this is about community after all
  3. Leave a comment,  I’d love to visit your blog and return the kind gesture
  4. Let people know that you’ve linked up by mentioning Reasonstodress.com on your blog

Feel free to use the #reasonstodress hashtag when sharing your outfits on twitter &  I will retweet you!

 

CO-HOSTING:

If you’d like to have your blog featured e-mail me about co-hosting, it’s free and I’d LOVE to have you!  reasonstodress@gmail.com


Links à la Mode, September 10

SPONSOR: Amazon’s Shopbop WAYF, James Perse, M Missoni, L.K. Bennett, Equipment, Tie Neck Blouses, Plaid Blouses, Leather Pants, Lace Dresses, Men’s Crew Neck Sweatshirts

  • Tracy Miller

    Your observations are always so interesting. When my husband and I travel, I’m usually pretty careful to not look like a tourist but he could care less and stands out like a sore thumb :-)

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      This made me laugh! There’s just something about a confident man!

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  • GoFashiondeals

    Love the denim skirt! I only own 2 pairs of shorts. Haha. The bucket bag is so cute! Great tips!!! :)

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      You know, before living in Italy I only owned two pairs of shorts and HATED showing my legs. Then I felt the heat of Italian summers and now I think I own like 15 (but really only wear two!)

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  • Jeanie Beck

    Great article! I’m emailing my husband the link for the bucket bag! I know what I want for Christmas in Italy! :)

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      GO FOR IT! Honestly, all women should start emailing their husbands the links of what they want….removes the guesswork, tears, disappointment …!! My husband has gotten much better about birthday / christmas gifts but one year he got me a stuffed dinosaur (before kids) for my birthday….I was like…”thanks”!

      Do you think I could send him a link to make up for that year?!! And SEND ME A PICTURE of you if you style the bag!!

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  • http://malaysianmeanders.blogspot.com/ Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    Thanks for the advice. When we visited Italy last year, I made a bit of an effort to look nicer than usual. It was hard since where I was living is very casual by normal standards.

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      I remember your pictures and I always thought you looked great. Dressing is so tied to culture people don’t even realize it. Now when I go back to North America I need to make a concerted effort to “dress down”.

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  • Elsie Davies

    Hi Angela, thanks for hosting. You packed well. Love your casual look and bucket bag. xo

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      Thank you Elsie and thank you for linking up!

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  • bonniemelielo

    The goal of my husband and I, over the past 11 years of visiting Italy, has been to be visitors not tourists. Part of this is being aware of dressing differently from how we do at home in Alaska. No jeans, backpacks, sneakers. Always dressing “up” a bit more for dinner out. We love people watching and seeing how Italians of our age dress.

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      GOOD FOR YOU ! I love this goal of being visitors and not tourists and that is exactly how I feel when I visit Toronto, now that I don’t live there. You can visit a country enough to no longer be tourists and part of that is appreciation for the local culture. BTW feel free to send me a picture or tag it #reasonstodress on Instagram, I’d love to see your Italian vacation style!! I also love the way mature people dress in Italy, it is about looking good at any age and working with what you have.

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  • http://www.dousedinpink.com Jill

    These are great tips and can be applied to wherever your travel! You look so chic in your denim skirt! That bucket bag is fabulous!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      Thank you Jill! yes, for the most part I think these could work anywhere. I remember before going to Istanbul I did a lot of research into what to wear because it was my first time visiting a primarily Muslim country and I really wanted to try to be respectful. In the end, I think it is about “trying to fit in”

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  • http://www.alovelylifeindeed.com/ Kelly @ A Lovely Life, Indeed

    Love that bucket bag. Beautiful! I also bring a scarf everywhere…multifunctional and cute. :-) Have a great day! You always look fabulous!

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      A scarf is such a great accessory to have on hand, no matter the season and you always look so beautiful….but I personally think you’re best accessory is your smile!

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      • http://www.alovelylifeindeed.com/ Kelly @ A Lovely Life, Indeed

        Agreed! You can’t go wrong with a genuine smile.

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  • Merci

    Lovely denim skirt. And It has been ages since you gave us a link up, confession…..I always look forward to your link ups by the way. I am still insisting the Italy Tourism docket should rope you into their Ministry.
    Merci

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      Thank you Merci!! I know it has been ages!! Just getting back into the swing of things after a few weeks of being on holiday with my family, but I’m so glad to host and thank you for taking the time to linkup and join me. And you are so funny! I have done some work for a few of the local Ministries in my area, it is nice that they actually see my blog as something that can benefit tourism and I love talking about where I live.

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  • Happinessatmidlife

    Great tips …now I just need to plan trip to Italy :) Loving the fun anchor bracelet!

    Alice

    http://www.happpinessatmidlife.com

    Would love to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      I will be there on Thursday! Your linkup is one of the only ones I ever manage to join! Thank you for coming by Alice and this anchor bracelet is one of my favorite accessories!

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  • Heather Davis Wyancko

    You look Italian to me.. I would never confuse you for a tourist. You just have that ‘look’ of an effortlessly fresh Italian fashionista. Love reading your posts!
    Heather Wyancko
    http://ForageFashion.com

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      Thank you Heather! I should confess that technically I am Italian! Even though I was born and raised in Canada both of my parents are Italian immigrants, so I have Southern Italian thing going on…the hair…the nose…the short stature! Actually it really throws Italians off because once I open my mouth and they hear my accent they are always like…wtf?

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  • http://eleganceandmommyhood.blogspot.com/ ADA

    I hate looking like a typical American tourist lol. Everyone needs a denim pencil-style denim skirt. Love your simple urban styling. That bucket bag is gorgeous.

    <3 Ada.

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      Ada you would never look like a typical American tourist, you put so much thought and effort into all of your looks, I can only imagine that when you pack for a trip you plan each outfit with great care.

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  • http://www.apocketfulofpolkadots.com/ JL@ A Pocketful of Polka Dots

    You look terrific in your denim skirt. Every time I see your hair I just fall more in love it – it suits you perfectly!

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    • http://reasonstodress.com Reasons to Dress

      Thank you ! I love my hair, but I’m not really used to the amount of maintenance required with short hair. you literally have to get it cut all the time or it gets a little too out of hand and isn’t long enough to stick in a ponytail!! however, I save SO MUCH time in the morning and feel very confident with my cut. How do you find time to stay on a hair maintenance schedule?

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  • Porcelina

    This is such a topical post for me as I’m off on honeymoon to Spain soon and want to look stylish! I’ve just bought a really nice pair of pretty leather sandals that are practical yet chic enough to pair with a dress for evening, and I will make sure I take a nice leather bag. I always take lots of hair accessories such as flowers for evening too. My other half has just invested in some tailored red shorts and matching Vans trainers, as we have noticed that the Spanish do dress up. Love your advice, am sure it applies to lots of other countries in not looking touristy! xx

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  • http://www.passportcouture.com/ Passport Couture

    A great set of suggestions for traveling to Italy. Everyone wants to have what they need without looking too touristy. And, your observations about Italians having great style is true, so you have to have ideas on what to wear to not stick out too much!

    http://passportcouture.com

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