Project Romeway: Packing For A Semester In Roma

By Monika Tsimbalov

The easiest decision has been made- studying in Rome! Now the hardest decisions are to follow – what to pack! As we all know, being a girl is quite dificile. In a world where you can never have enough shoes or too much mascara, packing for abroad has its limitations.  Hopefully this guide makes your life, or at least your packing list, a little more concrete!

Speaking of concrete, unfortunately you won’t come across much of it. These Italian streets are made of cobblestones. So those 4 inch platform heels won’t work. Seriously, don’t even try it! But don’t worry, doesn’t mean you can’t go out in style. Boots are extremely popular in Europe and you will want to bring a few pairs with you. Definitely bring a few that are really comfortable because you will be doing a lot of walking. It also rains a lot in Rome during the winter, so be careful with suede boots. For night time, you can definitely go out in flat boots for a more casual and comfortable look. Or you can wear boots with heels (chunky heel works best on the cobblestones). One of the best purchases I ever made [probably in life] is this pair of suede booties with heels. I bought them in Florence during my first two weeks of studying abroad. These were a lifesaver because they’re super comfortable to walk in, dance in for hours, and they’re cute! If you don’t own many boots, don’t fret because you’re studying in the land of leather! “Pelle” = leather. “Tacco” = heel or “tacchi” = heels. You’ll be able to find awesome shoes all throughout the city. Prices can range drastically, so just have a budget in mind when searching. In Italy, you can wear boots starting in January all the way through the end of March, if not even April. Some of the girls in my study abroad program brought rain boots or bought them there, but again, that’s up to you. Another great pair of shoes you may want to bring is ballet flats. These go great with skinny jeans and they’re comfortable and pretty. During the warmer months you can get away with sandals, but try to steer away from regular flip flops- Italians feel strongly about their fashion! You may also see some Italians wearing cool sneakers, like Nikes.

If you want to fit in with the Italians, there are a few things to keep in mind: Italian women mostly wear form-fitted clothes, mostly muted or dark colors like black, gray, and white, and they rarely look sloppy or too casual. With that said, you may want to pack a couple pairs of jeans, (black) leggings, skirts that you can mix and match with different shirts, and some dresses for going out. It’s pretty cold in January and February so you’ll want to wear tights with your dresses and skirts. Scarves are going to be your new best friends. If you don’t own any, that’s okay because they’re literally sold on almost every street corner for 5 euros. These are great because you can wear them during the day and nighttime and switch them up to “change” your outfit. You won’t really see people wearing sweats or oversized clothes. And if you do, it’s probably an American tourist! Your second best friend, after the scarves, will be a leather jacket. Very popular in Italy. “Giacca di pelle” = leather jacket. A lot of American students buy theirs from this leather shop in Florence called Massimo Leather. He can custom tailor it to your size and preference and he deals with a lot of Americans so you’ll be able to communicate with him! It’s located at Via Canto De’ Nelli 47. But there’s plenty of stores around Rome where you can buy a leather jacket as well. Bring a warmer coat since it’s pretty cold the first two months. A peacoat is usually a good option.

Where to shop?
Via Cola Di Rienzo is just north of the Vatican and across the river from Piazza del Popolo.  Great shopping street with moderately priced stores! My favorite store, Brandy Melville is on this street. They actually recently opened one up in New York City and is loved by Americans!  Via Cola di Rienzo is also not as crowded as some of the other shopping streets since it’s in a mostly residential neighborhood (Prati). There’s a big department store located on the street called Coin which has clothes, house goods, and a supermarket.

Via del Corso runs from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo. Huge street with plenty of shopping. Gets pretty crowded since it cuts through the center of the city. Plenty of fashion and also some bars along the street for a mid-day shopping break! Zara is pretty popular in Europe and it’s located on this street.

Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). The boutiques around the Spanish Steps are expensive and all high-end designers. The most expensive street in Rome is Via Condotti is located there. This area is home to stores such as Prada, Valentino, Hermes, and more. Window shopping here is also great, and slightly cheaper.

Hair straighteners and blow dryers:
If you heard rumors that your American blow dryers and straighteners will blow up in Italy, it’s true. Sorta. You will blow a fuse though and most likely damage your dryer!  For your hair product to work in Italy, it must be dual voltage, which means the voltage is universal and can be used in different countries. American blow dryers use 110 volts and in Italy, electricity is generated at 220 volts. I bought a dual voltage mini travel hair dryer from Amazon. It’s so tiny and can fold up so it doesn’t take up much room and it’s so light. I honestly think it may be one of the cuter things I’ve ever purchased. There’s a switch on it for you to choose 125 for USA and 250 for Europe. With dual voltage appliances, you don’t need a converter. An adapter will do since the electricity is automatically converted. Or to be safe, you can always buy a hair dryer or straightener in Rome. You can buy them at appliance stores or department stores like COIN or La Rinascente. About 20 euros. Look for shops selling ELETTRODOMESTICI (electric appliances) or CASALINGHI (home appliances). There is a “casalinghi” shop near Campo de’ Fiori, on Vicolo delle Grotte 47. Also, along Via del Portico D’Ottavia, there are at least 3 shops selling home appliances. If you can’t find them there, try along ViaVittorio Emanuele. Also some advice, if you do bring an American blow dryer, run it on LOW to be safe.

Additional fashion tips:
Sometimes you go out for the entire day, from morning all through the night. So be prepared for those days. Layering is great as the temperature may fluctuate throughout the day.  Also, for purses, bring something that has a zipper because there’s pickpocketers in Europe!  Always keep it close to you and don’t leave it open. Cross-body bags are great, especially if you can wear them during the day to fit all of your stuff.

Enjoy the fashion capital of the world!

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