A local’s guide to packing for Florence in the winter. I’ll walk you through a helpful packing list and give you a printable checklist to make things easier for you!
Are you getting ready for your trip to Florence but are stumped about what to pack?
Can’t decide which shoes you need for your holiday trip to Florence?
Are you unsure if you need a scarf for your winter trip to Florence?
I live here and spend a lot of time wandering around Florence in the winter. And, I can tell you if you don’t pack well, you’ll be uncomfortable and you won’t be able to enjoy your visit to the fullest.
So, let’s take a look at what you must pack for a visit to Florence in the winter, plus some optional items. And, I’ll tell you where you can buy some of these items if you forget them (or just want to shop for an Italian version).
Andiamo – let’s go!
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Table of Contents
What’s the Weather Like in Florence in December?
Florence weather in the winter tends to be chilly, wet, and sometimes windy.
Typical temperatures in Florence in December range from 38-52°F (3-11°C) and the city sees almost 1.5 inches (almost 37 mm) of rainfall.
But, as you’ve probably noticed, the weather has had a mind of its own the last few years. As I write this, it’s October here in Tuscany and I’m wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt. It was 86° F yesterday!
Read my guide to Visiting Florence in December
Florence Packing List for the Winter – Must Have Items
These items are essential for a comfortable, low-maintenance, and stress-free trip to Florence in the winter. This is the list that I email to friends, family, and clients who are coming to visit in the chilly months of December, January, and February.
You’ll probably need an umbrella on your winter visit to Florence (and if you don’t – woohoo!). Yes, you can buy one here, but it will be either 1) extremely cheap and fall apart after one gust of wind, or 2) so expensive you’ll have to ask the saleswoman if you heard the price correctly.
So, do what I do – bring an umbrella from your home country. I own and have been happy with the travel size umbrellas from Totes, EEZY, and Repel. I find that the super mini sizes don’t hold up well to some of the gusty winds so I avoid them now.
Helpful Tip: Bring a colorful umbrella or one with a loud pattern. Here in Florence, you’ll leave your umbrella at the entrance of shops and restaurants. It’s much easier to find your brightly-colored umbrella when you leave (vs sorting through the sea of black umbrellas).
Don’t be like my dad and wear a light windbreaker to Italy in December. He laughs about it now but we had to drive out to Nencini Sport (outside the city center but it has a lot of sporty winter clothing) to buy him a winter coat.
It’s cold here in the winter, so bring a warm coat. I wear either a down coat that hits below my bum (helpful for sitting down on benches etc without worrying about ruining my pants or getting them wet) or a long down coat (it kind of looks like a sleeping bag, but I stay warm).
You’ll fit right in if you’re wearing a scarf in Italy. Look for material that feels good against your skin and that matches your other clothing (you’ll likely wear it every day).
I prefer to wear a beanie (or toque, for my Canadian friends) because it keeps me the warmest. You may prefer to use the hood on your jacket – just make sure you can see well at the sides so you can easily check out the sites (and not run into others on the street).
Gloves or Mittens
Some people keep their hands in their pockets. I like to wear gloves or mittens.
Layers are key for visiting Florence during the winter – you want to be able to adjust what you’re wearing based on the temperature outside and inside. You may get sweaty walking up the steps to Piazzale Michelangelo for that gorgeous view of Florence – take a layer off! You may want to bundle up a little more if the wind picks up.
Layers could include a baselayer (like an undershirt), a warm layer (like a fleece or sweater), and a coat and scarf. This is what I typically do, and sometimes I end up taking off the sweater and just wearing the coat and shirt. Or, if it warms up, I’ll just take my coat off.
Don’t only pack long sleeves and sweaters – winters here in Florence can have sunshine and warm days. We’ve had a couple of Christmas Days spent in t-shirts! I recommend packing at least one shirt with short sleeves.
We can see some rain and muddy puddles during the winter, so avoid light colored clothing that will stain easily if you get splashed or sit on a wet and dirty bench.
I typically wear darker colors (or at least darker pants).
Helpful Tip: Carry a pack of baby wipes with you for wiping off dirt spots on your clothing or shoes.
Comfortable, Water-Resistant Shoes
I’ve never met a happy traveler in uncomfortable shoes. And that same happy traveler wears water-resistant shoes in the winter in Florence.
You can go hard core and wear something like a hiking shoe or cross trainer with Gore-tex, or just wear a pair of leather (or vegan leather) shoes or boots.
I wear treated leather boots or sneakers (like Adidas Stan Smiths, Autrys, or Vejas) in the winter in Florence. You can read more about the choosing the Best Shoes for Italy.
Another Pair of Shoes
This is key! If, for some reason your other shoes get really wet, you’ll want another pair. Well, you’ll want another pair anyway to give your feet a little break from wearing the same shoes all day, every day.
This could be a sneaker, but one with winter-friendly materials – no lightweight netting or white suede.
Helpful Tip: You can stuff your wet shoes with sneakers and put them near the radiator in your hotel room to dry. Don’t place them on top of the radiator or too close as the heat can ruin some shoes (and it may be a fire hazard).
A Good Book
Florence in the winter is a perfect time for relaxing at a café or having a leisurely lunch in a cozy trattoria. [If I have time in Florence without my kids] I love bringing a book (or my Kindle) along.
Helpful Tip: If you don’t feel like packing a book, you can always pick one up at RED Feltrinelli or the Paperback Exchange.
Along with the above recommendations, be sure to pack essentials like your passport, credit card, driver’s license and International Driving Permit (if you’re planning on driving a rental car), phone and charger, and medication.
When people ask me to plan an exact itinerary for their time in Florence in the winter months, I always suggest trying to be flexible. You’ll want to spend your time outdoors when the weather is nice. It’s much more pleasant to walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo LINK when the sun is shining.
If you want to take a day trip to the Tuscan countryside, you’ll enjoy it more if the skies are clear!
So, have some plans, but be willing to switch things around to take advantage of nice weather.
Helpful Tip: Check the weather before you leave and adjust your packing as necessary. Supposed to rain the entire time? Make sure you have that umbrella and weather proof shoes! Looks like it will be sunny? Make sure you’ve got a couple of short-sleeve options.
My favorite weather app for Italy is Il Meteo.
Florence Winter Packing List – Depends on the Traveler
The next few items don’t apply to everyone, but I want to mention them because they may be important for you:
Yes, it’s true – almost all hotels in Florence will provide a hairdryer. But, if you love and depend on your hairdryer, bring it. Just be sure to check the voltage to make sure it will work here.
Read more about Electricity in Italy & Which Power Adapter to Bring
If you’d like to walk, do yoga, or go for jogs while you’re in Florence, make sure you pack the appropriate gear. I do find it a little harder to find good workout gear in the center, so make sure you pack what you need.
I mentioned bringing a travel umbrella in the essentials above because I think it’s easier than using a rain jacket. But, if you don’t have a large backpack, purse, or shopping bags, you can easily use a rain jacket.
Rain jackets also come in handy if you’ll be going on any walks in the countryside.
I have a rain jacket, but I usually only wear it if I’m going on a workout-type of walk in the rain. Otherwise, I find the umbrella helps keep my purse and other bags dry.
If you’re planning on going to a Michelin-starred restaurant for a meal or to a performance at a theater, you’ll probably want to pack something a little dressier.
I also feel comfortable in these situations in a cashmere sweater and slacks, which you can also wear during the day.
Rain Cover for Stroller
If you’re coming with your family, you’ll want to have the essentials for your kids, and if you’re bringing a stroller, I recommend having a rain cover. You’ll want to be able to explore even if it’s raining, and the cover will keep your little one dry while still being able to check out the sites!
Slippers or Warm Socks
If your hotel doesn’t offer slippers, you may want to bring some from home for the chilly mornings and evenings in your hotel room.
Things to Leave at Home for Your Florence Trip in the Winter
- Jewelry – I try not to travel with jewelry anyway, but I find it can be annoying in the winter because it can snag on beanies and scarves. I’ve even lost earrings in the winter this way.
- White or light-colored clothing – If you’ve ever been splashed with a muddy puddle while wearing light colored clothing, you know what I’m talking about!
- ‘Delicate’ shoes – You won’t want anything that will be ruined or uncomfortable if it gets wet or dirty. So, avoid sneakers with netting or lots of holes for breathability – those let in water and stain easily in the winter. Also, leave those beautiful white suede sneakers at home. They look amazing but they won’t after one day in Florence in the winter. Helpful Tip: Bring a shoe that can be wiped clean with a baby wipe.
Tips for Packing for Florence in the Winter
Don’t look at photos of what Florentines are wearing. They are just walking around for an hour, or maybe they’re heading to the office where they’re sitting all day. And, if they get a blister with those fancy heels, it’s not a big deal – they can just take it easy until it heals. But you want to be walking and enjoying the city.
You can buy toiletries here but bring favorites if you’re picky. For example, if you love a particular sunscreen – bring it just in case you can’t find it here. I love the skincare you can find in the pharmacies here – some nice European brands to check out include La Roche Posey, Avene, and Biotherm. I also like the skincare from the Erbolario shops – they use a lot of natural ingredients.
Try on your outfits and accessories before you travel to Florence. Make sure your purse or backpack works with your coat. If you bring a puffy down jacket and purse with a small armhole, it will be a huge pain (speaking from experience). Put on your new sweater and make sure it doesn’t itch or have pokey seams.
You can do laundry but the problem will be drying your clothing. If you typically like to do your own laundry while traveling, you can do that, but the only hang up in the winter in Florence (and Italy as a whole) is clothes don’t dry quickly. If you can put them near (not on!) a heat source, that will help. Or, utilize laundromats (look for a lavanderia self-service) or your hotel’s laundry service (careful, it can be pricey!).
Where to Shop for Winter Items in Florence
If you forgot something (or you just want to go shopping), here’s where you should shop in Florence:
Farmacia (pharmacy) – high end toiletries, medicine, baby products like diapers and cream); they’re scattered throughout the city – just look for the green cross posted outside
Coin and Rinascente– department stores that have clothing and makeup
Profumeria Aline – high-end toiletries; convenient location by Piazza della Repubblica
UPIM or OVS – Target-ish clothing (great if you need something basic but don’t want to spend a lot); we also have international chains like H&M and Zara
Madova – handmade Florentine gloves (but I prefer gloves that have the little sticky part so you can use your phone without taking them off)
Aspesi – fancy, schmancy but super high-quality beanies, sweaters, and coats; Florence company so makes a nice souvenir
Supermercati (supermarkets/grocery stores) – this is where most people buy basic toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, tampons/pads, and deodorant; look for Conad City, Carrefour Express, or Pam Local, or go to the Coop just east of Piazza Beccaria (my favorite large-ish grocery store close to the historic center)
Of course there are tons of amazing clothing shops, so you’ll be able to find gorgeous clothing, leather, shoes, etc in shops the center of Florence.
I hope this helps you with your packing for Florence this inverno (winter)! Be sure to print out the packing list below (I’ve bolded the winter-specific items). And buon viaggio!