Italian restaurants maximize seating—often by placing patrons together so that a table is fully used. I love this. My husband, Jon, and I meet many people this way. Even when not seated with strangers, we frequently strike up conversation with anyone near us who has proficiency with the English language and seems amenable to a chat. It was this tendency that led to the topic of this blog.
Sitting in a Florentine restaurant called Agricola Toscana, I was enjoying a crisp, bubbly Prosecco while sizing up the restaurant—wine bottles lined the walls, biscotti sat in glass jars, and salamis hung from big hooks, all proclaiming the bountiful goodness of Tuscany. Waitresses carried trays of antipasto—prosciutto, bruschetta, and other goodies. As I considered ordering a little snack to go with my wine, Jon started chatting to a woman traveling solo next to us. When he explained that I was travel blogger, she exclaimed that she wished someone would write a blog about what travel essentials are easily available for purchase in Italy. She was interested in packing light and had already found out that she had brought too much with her.
Dedicated to traveling light myself, I always create an extensive packing list so that I don’t bring too much or not enough. Many travel essentials I just pick up in Italy though, so I don’t have to cart them overseas (and fit all my liquids into tiny containers in a Ziploc bag). A frugal woman at heart, I don’t pay a fortune for them—anymore than I would at home.
I also don’t pack a bunch of “in case of emergency” items. If I need it, I likely will be able to buy it there. I only pack stuff that would be too expensive or time-consuming to replace—like clothes, make-up, and beauty essentials. Most toiletries though, like shampoo, body lotion, shaving cream, etc., can just be purchased in Italy. Here is a list of common travel essentials and their prices (in Euros) in Florence:
- Shampoo/conditioner—2.29 each
- Soap/body wash—1.09 for two bars of soap/1.59 for body wash
- Body lotion—prices range from 1 at the Tutto store to a few euros and up for high-end lines
- Axe body spray—3.94
- Shaving cream (men’s style)—1.95 (women’s style doesn’t differ much in price)
- Hair gel—2.69
- Hairspray—varies from 2.50 and higher
- Toothbrush/toothpaste—90 cents for each
- Mouthwash—2.50 for U.S. brand, but cheaper for Italian brands
- Cotton swabs/face rounds—80 cents each for a large package
- Contact lens cleaner—3.29 for full size
- OB tampons (16 count)/maxi pads—2.89/1.30
Everything on this list was priced in a grocery store, but you can also find lots of items at pharmacies—some of which carry higher-end beauty products, too. Italy has Sephora and other beauty stores in major cities. In Florence, there are also Tutto 99 Cents stores where everything is one Euro. There you can find nail files, nail clippers, tweezers, bandages, sewing kits, bath and body products, toys, tools, home goods and more. You can also find these times at a reasonable price in other stores, too, though. Many Italian cities feature Tiger stores, which I love for a 5€ umbrella. Tiger stores are Danish variety stores that have all sorts of items you may need…or grow a burning desire to possess…at a decent price.
To avoid hauling a bunch of stuff over an ocean, you may want to consider purchasing some products in Italy. As you can see, you will likely find most of the travel essentials on your packing list at a price fairly comparable to that in the United States. Italian stores have a lot of what you need, they just don’t have a lot of variety. Unlike in the States where we may have 20 or more types of shampoo to choose from, the selection in Italy won’t be as plentiful. There were only a few conditioners to choose from or a couple brands of toothpaste. In many stores, I found just one type of contact lens cleaner. Nonetheless, I’ve always been happy with product quality and I am ecstatic when I’m not carrying a heavy bag everywhere—up and down steps and along cobblestone streets. If you’re visiting a more-populated area of Italy (Florence, Venice, Rome, Naples, Milan, etc), go ahead and pack light—just buy what you need there. Buon viaggio!
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