What To Pack For Italy – Must Have Items And Top Packing Tips

I just got back from Italy. I was on a two week long work trip, and was one of the lucky ones to fly in a week after the country opened to travelers after the covid tourism shut down. Italy was as incredible as ever, possibly even more so than usual because there were almost no tourists there.

Enjoying a very empty Venice

The day after I got home I was super lucky to be a guest on my favorite Untold Italy podcast, this time to talk about what to pack for your trip to Italy. It is a really comprehensive episode and we really get into the weeds and address all the questions Katy gets daily on the Italy Travel Planning Facebook page. I get DMs with these same questions on my Corinna Cooke Author facebook page and we also hear the same concerns in the Untold Italy Insiders private members group. So I think it’s fair to say most people have the same concerns when it comes to choosing what to bring to Italy and how to pack! The episode is fantastic and I am sure you will find it really helpful. You can listen to the episode here.

Rather than rehash everything I talk about on the podcast I wanted to give you some links to the game changing products I talk about. Some of these are affiliate links, others aren’t. All the products that are available on Amazon are also linked on my Amazon page: Amazon.com/Shop/CorinnaTravels. I update the Amazon shop page as I discover new travel items and also when things I like become available on Amazon. I don’t know about you but I prefer to be able to get everything in one place.

Luggage

These are the Away Luggage bags I talk about in the episode. Apologies for the blurry photo!

In the episode I talk about the luggage I have been using for years now. I have the Away Medium suitcase, in Sand. My case is really beaten up now because it has been used so much. In my normal pre-pandemic life I was spending several months each year in Europe, bouncing home to New Zealand whenever I could get down there (nowhere near often enough) and flying back and forth across the U.S multiple times per year on makeup jobs. That poor suitcase has been really overworked, yet still other than the cosmetic scrapes I’ve not gotten around to cleaning, is in excellent condition. It has four 360 degree wheels (essential) and is ergonomically designed so that it puts the least amount of stress on your back. It is incredibly sturdy yet is also lightweight.

The Everywhere Bag from Away.

I also talk about the new carry-on bag I bought from Away prior to ths last trip. In the episode I couldn’t remember its name, but it is called The Everywhere Bag. When it first arrived I wasn’t particularly impressed and thought about returning it, but I am so glad I didn’t! This bag is an MVP. It’s small but you can fit so much into it! My carry-on always has 3 changes of clothes (in case my suitcase doesn’t arrive when I do) as well as all my electronics, my camera, phone chargers, adaptors and all the other nonsense I like to have with me on the plane.

Jam packed but still not heavy. It also fits under the seat in front if needed.

I bought the nylon version of the Everywhere bag in the matching sand color to my regular suitcase. I had signed up for Away’s emails so was notified when they had a sale. This bag is normally $165 but I bought it on sale for $115. It has lots of convenient internal and external pockets, has a sleeve that slips over your suitcase handle and also has a hidden compartment underneath where you an stash a travel umbrella.

Using the Everywhere Bag as a camera bag in Bassano del Grappa. I’m wearing the Eddie Bauer Departure Pants and these Adidas sneakers. Both were indispensible travel companions.

I ended up also using this as a camera bag when we went on day trips too, because it’s really strong and sturdy but also very lightweight, much lighter than my normal tote bag.

There is another bag I forgot to mention on the podcast and that is the Paravel Fold Up Duffel. This bag zips into itself and packs down to the size on an iPad. It is great to throw in your suitcase in case you need an extra bag to bring your shopping home. I have it in navy, which I couldn’t photograph well, so am using this Google image. Had it been available in red when I bought mine, I would have chosen that! But that second image with the bag? That’s how small it zips down to! You could either bring it onboard as a carry on, or if you were going to check it as a second bag, I would only put clothing in it, as it is nylon, so breakables will break. This makes a fantastic Christmas present for any travelers. in your life!

How cool is this?? I just wish I had the red one.

Laundry

In the episode Katy told me about travel laundry detergent sheets. I can’t believe I didn’t already know about these?? Anyway I got right on Amazon and ordered these Travelon Laundry Detergent sheets. I chose Travelon from all the brands available because I’ve bought tons of Travelon travel gadgets over the years and have always been happy with them. Also these come in a small package, ideal for travel.

I also talked about bringing a travel sized wrinkle release product. I normally use Downy, mostly because I like the smell, but there are lots of really good brands. These are a life saver, especially if there isn’t an iron where you’re staying. I just spritz the clothing item, shake it out and let it hang, ideally overnight if there is time. Over the years I’ve done plenty of high speed de-wrinkling though too.

Clothing

For most of us this is the hardest thing to figure out. My three most important tips here are to choose travel friendly fabrics, pack separates to mix and match and plan on wearing each item at least twice. I try to wear each at least 3 times, but I tend to be away longer than most people. My next trip has me away for 2 full months, so everything needs to be really well thought out and will get worn over and over.

Icebreaker Merino wool base layer. Perfect for year round travel.

I talk about merino wool in the podcast. If you are like me wool itches against your skin. Merino doesn’t – it is the absolute magic travel fabric! It is as lightweight as a longsleeve t-shirt and might even take up less space in your suitcase because of the way it packs. I get the 175 weight, which temperature regulates from about -20 degrees F to +75 degrees F. It is perfect for flying as it keeps you warm but doesn’t overheat. It is also great to have in your suitcase if the weather suddenly turns cold. You don’t have to have a heavy chunky sweater to stay warm. Merino also wicks away moisture if you perspire and it has an anti-stinky property that stops it getting smelly if you wear it several days running. In the winter I travel with a merino dress, a merino tshirt and a merino cami. It really does become indispensible. You can see more merino products here.

Another great find is the Eddie Bauer Departure pants. I have them in black and in olive. They’re made from a man made travel fabric that is lightweight, doesn’t crease, and packs dpwn tp nothing. In a pinch you can wash them in the bathroom sink, hany them out and thy’ll be dry and wrinkle free in the morning. These are great staples for any traveler’s wardrobe. Athleta makes a line of pants from a similar fabric too.

I also talk about compression socks and hose. These stop fluids from pooling in your feet and ankles when you fly and have been shown to be instrumental in preventing DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). They apply graduating pressure from your feet working upward, which keeps blood and fluids moving. You can read more about Deep Vein Thrombosis and flying here.

Shoes

On the podcast I talk about having a good, lower back supporting sneaker that can still look chic. This past trip I worse this sneaker by Adidas. Not only was it a super comfortable shoe but it also held its shape and looked good with skirts, dresses and pants. I like this two toned shoe by Reebok as well, especially with the olive departure pant. I also talk about sandal I’ve been wering for a few years now called the Mirabella by Sofft. I keep track of the number of steps I do each day and have calculated that I walk 315 miles in each pair of Mirabellas before I replace them! They have great support and the leather is super soft so doesn’t really require breaking in. I swear by them.

Beach Towel

You can’t guarantee your hotel or vacation rental will have beach towels for you, and who wants to travel with something as bulky and heavy as a towel? I normally pack one of these Turkish beach towels when I travel. They’re lightweight and dry you quickly. You can double them up as a scarf or a sarong or any one of a bunch of things, so they are really handy to have with you. Also if you wind up staying somewhere where they only give you one towel (trust me it happens) you’ll be glad you had it with you.

Tech Stuff and Electronics

I always travel with an external phone battery like this one from Mophie. Lots of companies make them and they com at a variety of price points. Make sure you buy one with at least 10,000 mAh so you can fully charge a phone and a tablet from completely dead. Should you get stranded somewhere you’ll be glad you did.

You also need an international power adaptor like this one. It’s not enough to just have an Italian plug fitting, you need to convert their voltage so you don’t fry your hair dryer or curling iron the minute you plug it in. Most of them have several USB ports too, so you can charge phones and tablets while also charging your mophie.

Nano Titanium Travel Hairdryer. This is the best travel dryer I have ever had.

Another MVP for travel is this tiny travel hair dryer. It is at full professional strength, so even someone with as much hair as I have can blow it out effectively and quickly. PLus it has the whole Nano ionic titanium technology that helps blow your hair out smooth. It’s genius.

You can see how tiny the hairdryer is here.

On my Amazon page (Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels) you can fin everything else I talked about on the podcast, plus more bits and pieces I swear by for trips to Italy. The page is broken up by category to make it easy to find everything you’re looking for.

If you want more insider information about planning your trip to Italy and secret places most travelers don’t even know about (even inside the big cities!) be sure to join my newsletter. Twice each month you’ll get the secrets in your inbox. You can also check out my website here: CorinnaCooke.com

Don’t forget to listen to the Untold Italy Packing For Italy podcast episode here.

Tuscan Women Cook: Why You Need This Fabulous Italian Cookbook!

Have you ever dreamed about staying in a beautiful medieval Tuscan town, far from the tourist crowds, spending your days exploring the area, drinking local wine and cooking local Tuscan food? I think about it all the time.

I often get Glam Italia Tour clients asking about cooking classes in Tuscany. Some just want an afternoon class, but others want a bigger experience where they get to live in a gorgeous old villa for a week, shop the local village markets and cook with the nonnas. While looking for a unique and completely special experience for my clients I discovered a wonderful week long cooking program called Tuscan Women Cook.

This is where you stay at the cooking school

Two ladies from California followed their dreams (and the stories and recipes of their Italian Nonnas) and now have a cooking school in Tuscany. What is even more perfect to me is that their school is in a little town near Siena, but off the beaten track. The town, or more aptly village, is called Montefollonico.

Montefollonico

Montefollonico sits perched on a hill between the Valdichiana and the Val d’Orcia, some of the most beautiful areas in Tuscany. The town has a palazzo and is encircled by a 13th century fortress wall. In short, it’s all just dreamy.

Can you imagine yourself sitting here drinking your morning coffee before going shopping at the village market??

But not all of us can just drop tools and go do a week’s cooking class in a hilltop town in Tuscany. So the ladies who own the school put together a cookbook, called Tuscan Women Cook.

Recipes are folded around stories from the area. I love the way they tell you the recipes too. Instead of talking at you as so many cookbooks do, they talk to you. It’s this friendly, chatty tone of voice that makes you feel like you’re cooking with a friend rather than trying to understand chef language in a book.

Crispelle di Funghi from the book

The food photos of course are lovely, but I also love the photos of local people, and shots of the town.

The book is so fabulous that actress and Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli wrote the foreward! Not only is she of Italian descent, she learned to cook Italian food from her nonna and has an absolute passion for the cuisine. Enough of a passion that she discovered Tuscan Women Cook when she and her husband went to Montefollonico to attend the cooking school for a week!

If you want to cook some wonderful Tuscan cuisine this summer (or anytime), meals that are fresh and simple, don’t cost the earth to make and are total crowd pleasers, even if you’re just cooking for one (and you are the fabulous crowd member cooking for yourself!) you will love this book. It is available on Amazon and I have put it in my amazon store (Amazon.com/shop/CorinnaTravels) Here is a link.

You can find out more aboutt he cooking school here.I have no affiliation with them – I just love the book. I’ve had it for a couple of months now and it is a big success in or house!

Do you belong to my newsletter? Later this summer my newsletter members will be getting a free recipe from Tuscan Women Cook. If you would like to be included you can join the newsletter here.

All images in this post are from Tuscan Women Cook.

Best Travel Masks: How To Look Chic and Feel safe In Europe This Summer

Now that the EU is set to open for international travel this summer we need to make plans for how we will both stay safe and not become super spreaders of the coronavirus while traveling.

Summer on Mykonos

On April 25th 2021 the EU announced their recommendation for member states to open for international travel this summer. The plan is still being worked on and fine tuned but some countries including Greece are opening as early as mid May.

What You Need To Know About Travel To Europe

The headlines on the EU announcement said that fully vaccinated travelers from approved countries would be allowed entry, however, there are a few items buried in the fine print that you need to know about.

  1. Each member state (country) will reserve the right to close its borders to anyone coming from a country where the virus rate is considered too high, and each country gets to decide for themselves what constitutes too high. This is worth paying attention to, especially if you are planning a multi country European trip. For example you may be planning to go to Paris then head to Barcelona, but if France’s covid infection rate goes higher than Spain’s threshold you could find yourself stuck at the border or the airport.
  2. Each member state will have its own rules for entry. Some may be fine with you just waltzing on in, some will require a rapid test, others will require a 72 hour PCR test prior to entry. It will be your responsibility to find out the requirements for each country on your list, and to source where you can get the required testing. This is unlikely to be free, so you should budget for each test. I read today that in Italy you can expect to pay $25 for a rapid and $75 for a PCR test.
  3. You may be wise to just stick to one country.
  4. If you are traveling from the U.S. at this time (May 2021) you will be refused boarding on your return flight unless you have proof of a negative test in the 72 hours prior to flying home. You will need to source out where you can get an approved test, make an appointment if required, and find out which forms of payment will be accepted, prior to travel.
  5. Each country may have dofferent rules regarding masks and social distancing, and it may change from on day to the next as case numbers rise and fall.

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Read The Fine Print

One alarming feature of the EU travel plan is that it allows travelers who can prove recent recovery from covid and travelers who just have a negative covid test in the 72 hours prior to travel. To my way of thinking, this is a giant problem just waiting to happen.

It means you can be amongst travelers from places with excessively contagious variants, who have left home unvaccinated, and who can expose you to variants and mutations not swirling around your country/state/city yet. “Negative test travel” is what moved the U.K variant, The Brazilian, South African and now Indian variants around the world. In all likelihood travelers being allowed entry to any country based only on a negative test is only going to spread new and yet unknown variants around the world. I think it is madness. But of course, I’m not an epidemiologist or an infectious disease specialist, so hopefully I am wildly wrong.

The Best Masks For International Travel

It looks as though masks will be a requirement both throughout your flight and in many indoor and outdoor settings while you are traveling.

image via NBC.com

Some airlines are not accepting non-medical masks. This means you cannot wear a cloth mask, a facial shield, masks with valves, or handkerchief/scarf masks. Your only options are medical grade / surgical, disposable masks.

If you have worn the typical 3 fold paper masks you probably already know they aren’t always that comfortable when they’re on for multiple hours. The best medical grade masks in terms of comfort are the N95 and KN95 masks. What makes these so good is they seal nicely around the face without having gaping pockets at the sides, so are safer when dealing with an airbourne virus. Personally I like that they have a nose seal,so they don’t fog up your glasses, and most importantly (to me) is they have a large pouch in front of your mouth and nose, so you don’t feel like you’re suffocating. There’s no fabric or paper sucking up against your mouth or nose while you’re seaking or just trying to breathe.

KN95 masks.

I use KN95 masks when I’m on shoots. (I’m a makeup artist). I can have them on for 10 hours in the Phoenix heat and not feel like I’m about to get smothered. Plus, being a natural chatterbox I can talk to the talent and crew all day long and not be hampered by fabric or papersticking against my mouth and nose.

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When Germany announced only people wearing surgical, N95 and KN95 masks would be allowed on any Lufthansa flight, other airlines followed it immediately and the masks all sold out overnight. I figured it could become a thing with international flights so I ordered a package of white KN95 masks and a pack of black KN95s. I’ve been saving them for travel when the world finally reopens. (They took about a month to arrive because everything was on back order.) They are readily available now, but as international travel picks back up this summer you can expect them to get back ordered again. I recommend getting a couple of packs now, while they are in stock.

I recently ordered a box of colored KN95 masks from Amazon to use on an upcoming trip to Italy. I have to be there for work (I’m soooo excited!) and wanted to have disposable masks with me, but didn’t want to be relegated to black and white masks. I got a box of 36 KN95s.

Each mask is individually plastic wrapped, keeping them hygenic and making them easy to pack, and to throw spares in my handbag and carryon bag. If travel does in fact open as it is supposed to, and if this work trip can happen, I will be in Italy for 14 days. The packaging on these masks makes them easy for me to plan out 14 days worth and not take up a ton of space in my suitcase. They come in a variety of color combos – I got particularly girlie colors, but they have plenty of guy options too.

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Mask Etiquette

When traveling internationally, both during you flight and while you are at your destination, you need to follow some mask etiquette.

  1. The first thing to know is no one is having fun wearing a mask. Whether you believe in covid or not, whether you like wearing a mask or not, we all are stuck having to wear one. It is what it is. If the rules say you have to wear a mask, don’t complain, just do it. Don’t be a Facebook Karen, don’t squawk about how you can’t breathe or some nonsense about breathing in CO2. If you seriously feel you cannot wear one, stay home.
  2. Change out your mask during the flight, but don’t drop your used mask on the floor. The cleaning crew shouldn’t have to handle your germy, used mask. You probably won’t feel overly comfortable if the stranger sitting next to you is dropping dirty masks on the floor and leaving them there.
  3. Pack a large ziplock bag into your hand luggage, mark it dirty masks with sharpie, and put your used masks inside, zipping it closed. When you arrive to your destination, drop the sealed ziplock bag with used masks into the trash.
  4. While at your destination only ever dispose of used masks in a trash can. If you think you will be changing your mask during the day pack a sandwich sized ziplock bag into your handbag/backpack/whatever you’re carrying, and eal your used mask inside. Even if you are convinced you don’t have the virus, always dispose of used masks respectfully. You wouldn’t like a bunch of foreigners dropping dirty masks in your front yard or in front of your place of work, so don’t do it to theirs.
  5. After changing your mask use hand sanitizer. Even if you don’t think you need it. Anyone watching you will feel more comfortable seeing you being hygenic. It’s a small thing to do, but the small things in life are the big things.

If you want more information about international travel during covid, mask rules while flying internationally, and updated details on travel in Europe this summer, join my newsletter. The Glam Italia newsletter only comes out twice each moth but is full of information for travelers and armchair travelers! You can get the scoop here