Including matching sets, linen dresses, crochet bags, gladiator sandals, and more.

Dressing for the summer can be a struggle when it comes to looking good and feeling comfortable. In Italy, where summer humidity levels are always well over 70 percent and temperatures sometimes hit record-breaking highs of over 100 degrees, finding the perfect outfit and packing for a trip can feel like a herculean effort. As an Italian travel writer from Rome, I’ve not only learned how to survive sweltering summers in the city, but have, over time, developed a warm-weather wardrobe with staples that are not only stylish but also breathable and lightweight — think breezy linen sundresses, lace-up gladiator sandals, and colorful matching sets.

Whether your summer plans include soaking in the archaeological wonders of Rome, enjoying a romantic gondola ride in Venice, or sipping on limoncello and sunbathing on the Amalfi Coast, these are the 13 styles you should pack ahead of your trip to Italy this summer. Don’t worry: They’ll keep you looking and feeling fresh all day long.

Related: 13 Italian Wardrobe Staples to Add to Your Closet This Spring, According to a Travel Writer From Rome

A Breathable Linen Set

Automet 2-piece Linen Crop Top and Pants Set


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Linen is a staple in any Italian’s summer closet, loved not only for its cooling properties but also for its classic, sophisticated look — think button-down men’s shirts, flowy sundresses, and more. For these reasons, clothes made from 100-percent linen often come with a heftier price tag, but that doesn’t mean you can’t channel a bit of la dolce vita this summer at a more affordable price point. This two-piece set on Amazon is available in 12 solid colors starting at just $39. Made from a lightweight linen and rayon blend, it’s the perfect outfit to sightsee in busier cities like Florence or Rome, and can just as easily double as a bathing suit cover up if you find yourself by the beach. 

One of my favorite linen sets is this elegant embroidered one from Spanish chain Oysho. The shirt and pants are sold separately, each for $79, and are made from 100 percent linen, so they’re bound to keep you cool even on the hottest days. Just remember to give the set a good iron before wearing it out, as linen is an organic material and notoriously prone to wrinkles.

Lace-up Sandals

Trary Open Toe Gladiator Sandals 


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Whenever the weather allows for open-toe shoes, I always break out my favorite pairs of lace-up sandals, also known as gladiator sandals — a fitting name if you wear this style around Rome like I do. I have pairs in black and gold and I wear them almost every day in the summer while out running errands or sitting down to dinner at a trattoria.

I pair them with everything from flowy palazzo pants and a breezy sundress to a loose jumpsuit or a pair of jeans, and usually have my sandals fitted with an extra, thicker sole by my cobbler (for a small price) so that my feet have a bit more cushioning when walking on Rome’s uneven cobblestone streets. While I’ve purchased my sandals from small shops around the city, this pair on Amazon is a close match in style to the ones I own. They’re available in six colors, including brown, black, pink, and red, and have over 1,500 five-star ratings.

A Flowy Linen Sundress

Madewell Zulu & Zephyr Palm Linen Dress


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Made from 100-percent breezy linen, this resort-ready Madewell maxi sundress is versatile enough to be worn by the coast or while enjoying a glass of wine on a rooftop hotel in Rome. Dress it up or down with a pair of flip flops or lace-up gladiator sandals for an effortlessly chic look. Just remember to pack a lightweight shawl with you if you wear it to sightsee in the city so that you can still enter churches.

At $265, the Madewell maxi dress can be a pricey option, but you can get a similar look at a more affordable price point with this textured cotton and linen blend black slip dress from Topshop, on sale at Nordstrom Rack for $50. Simple and elegant, it features chunky beaded straps for a slightly edgier vibe. If you’re looking for a more flowy and breathable look, this black and white embroidered linen and cotton sundress from Oysho is one of my favorites. I recently purchased it on a trip home to Rome, and it’s quickly become my go-to dress of the summer — and it can be yours, too, for $89.

Palazzo Pants

Freeoak Wide Leg High Waist Trousers


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If you’re not a shorts person and can’t stand the idea of having to wear jeans in the heat, then palazzo pants are the summer pants for you. They’re elegant, comfortable, and have the added benefit of lengthening your legs so that you can look taller than you actually are. My go-to outfit in the summer is usually a pair of black and white striped palazzo pants, a loose black tank top, and a pair of lace-up gladiator sandals. 

While I bought my palazzo pants in a small store in Rome many years ago, this pair on Amazon is a close match to the ones I own. They’re available in over 20 colors and patterns, and in sizes S to 2XL, so you can stay cool and comfortable this summer no matter what you’re doing. They’re a steal at just $27, and don’t forget to check the box to take advantage of an additional on-site coupon for 26 percent off — bringing the price down to just $20. 

A Mini Tote Bag

Minkars Mini Tote Crossbody


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I’m a big fan of wearing tote bags in the summer, and have recently come across this mini canvas version on Amazon that’s so cute I immediately added it to my cart. It features a crossbody strap, an external pocket, an internal zipper pocket, and two internal slip pockets that can hold all your essentials — your cell phone, wallet, sunglasses, and even a small water bottle, which can be refilled at one of Rome’s nearly 2,500 free water fountains — while you’re out sightseeing.

Its mini size, available in eight colors and starting at just $14, is especially ideal for entering certain monuments like the Vatican Museums, which don’t allow large bags. Best of all, its main compartment is zippered, which is great for warding off pickpockets on public transport and outdoor dining hotspots in major cities like Rome. 

A Colorful Matching Set

PrettyGarden 2-piece Short Sleeve Lounge Shorts Set


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One of the easiest ways to stay fresh and look collected in the summer is with a colorful matching set, like this summery one from Amazon. Lightweight and breathable with an adjustable drawstring, the set can be worn together or separately, so it’s an especially versatile wardrobe staple for traveling purposes. 

My matching sets — which range in pattern and color, and in both short and long versions — were purchased in Rome from an Italian brand called White Mood,  but this green and white leaf print on Amazon is one I've been considering adding to my collection for some time. It’s available in sizes S to 2XL and in six additional prints and colors that can be worn with sneakers, sandals, velvet ballet flats, or flip flops.

A Satin Head Scarf

Julunar Silk-Like Head Scarf 


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I’m always wearing headscarves during the summer months. Aside from keeping my hair out of my face in the heat, they’re also a chic fashion accessory that can elevate even the most basic of outfits. Satin head scarves in particular are delicate on hair (and skin), which is ideal to counteract the heat, humidity, and general build up of grime and sweat that comes from sightseeing in the summer.

These head scarves from Amazon are available in over 30 color prints and colors starting at just $9. They’re pretty enough to also double as an accessory to wrap around your purse, which is why I'm considering adding this one, (and maybe a few others) to my collection this summer.

Velvet Ballet Flats

Feversole Velvet Mary Jane Ballet Flats


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Velvet ballet flats, known in Italy as friulane, are a universally worn shoe in the country. Originating from 19th century Venice, they’re often worn by Italian women during every season, including the summer. While velvet may sound like a heavy material, friulane are actually very lightweight and comfortable, more so than sneakers, in my opinion. I have six pairs in bold colors including fuschia, yellow, orange, and two shades of green, and I love the bright pop of color they give to my casual or formal outfits.

I often purchase my pairs in small boutiques across Italy or from popular Italian brand ViBiVenezia, which ships to the United States. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider this Mary-Jane version from Amazon for just $38.

A Lightweight Summery Top

SweatyRocks Short Sleeve Button-down Shirt


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A lightweight button-down shirt is always part of my summer wardrobe, which I usually wear open over a tank top and tucked into a pair of blue or white jeans. I’m partial to bold, colorful prints, like this floral one from Amazon, that I can match my (many) pairs of velvet ballet flats with. This lightweight summery top is available in over 15 additional prints and colors and is a steal at just $28.

Aside from being stylish, one of the major benefits of wearing a button-down shirt while sightseeing in Italy is that it covers your shoulders. This is essential to visiting the country’s thousands of churches, which are like art and history museums in themselves. Just keep in mind that if you’re pairing this top with shorts, your legs must also be covered from the knee down in order to enter and avoid being kicked out.

Cat-eye Tortoiseshell Sunglasses

Sojos Vintage Cat-eye Sunglasses


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A bold pair of sunglasses is an essential wardrobe accessory for an Italian summer, and one of my favorite styles is a sleek tortoiseshell cat-eye. To me, nothing feels more dolce vita-coded than these sunglasses, which immediately recall dreamy shots of the Amalfi Coast in the 1960s. While mine were passed down to me from my mother, this ultra-affordable pair from Sojos on Amazon has nearly 6,000 five-star reviews and is currently on sale for just $15. And, if you like the cat-eye silhouette but aren’t a fan of the tortoiseshell print, the glasses also come in 10 solid colors including red, black, and pink.

A Relaxed Jumpsuit

Anrabess Casual Wide Leg Jumpsuit


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If you want the breeziness of a sundress but the security of pants, then a loose jumpsuit is your answer. One of my favorite wardrobe staples in the summer and when I travel during the warmer months, a jumpsuit is comfortable, breathable, and stylish, especially when paired with the right sandals and accessories. I’ve purchased my jumpsuits over the years from retailers like American Eagle Outfitters and Urban Outfitters, as well as from other stores in Rome, but this version from Anrabess on Amazon is similar to the ones I own. 

Available in over 20 prints and colors, the jumpsuit has raked in over 3,400 five-star ratings and is one I’ve been eyeing for a while. It’s currently on sale for just $27, so it may just be time to add it to my cart ahead of my summer travels.

A Crochet Handbag

Madewell The Crocheted Shoulder Bag


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Crochet is all the rage these days, and you’re bound to see it everywhere on the streets of Italy this summer. We’re talking crochet dresses, tops, cardigans, and even bags like this vibrant red handbag from Madewell. Complete with cross handles, a crossbody strap, and a handy snap closure, it can easily hold all your essentials while on the go. It’s available in two additional  colors including black and antique cream, and for $65, is the perfect accessory for a flowy linen sundress or even a pair of jeans with a breezy button-down shirt. If you’re looking for a smaller and slightly more affordable version, this chocolate-colored one from Mango is a favorite of mine for just $50.  

A Lightweight Cardigan 

Znvgirl Women’s Chiffon Shrug


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As I’ve mentioned, entering churches in Italy with exposed shoulders is a major no-no — trust me, you’ll be kicked out if you’re caught. While it’s often too hot in the summer to wear anything other than tank tops and dresses, having a lightweight cardigan on hand that you can whip out to cover yourself is an essential when traveling to the country. This cropped chiffon cardigan from Amazon is the perfect solution. It’s lightweight enough that you won’t overheat while wearing it, and it can easily fold up and be crammed into a personal item like a mini tote bag or crochet handbag so that it won’t be a burden while sightseeing. 

Available in 16 colors and partners, its affordable $17 price tag is worth every penny. Otherwise, you’d miss out on the opportunity to see centuries-old art and architecture that are tucked away in the country’s many, many churches  — Rome, for example, is home to more than 900 public churches.

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