Susan Van Allen
We're delighted to have Susan
Van Allen, author of '100
Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go' as a longtime
member of our Journeywoman Network. We asked her to share her expertise
with the rest of our readership by telling us what she puts in her
suitcase when she sets out for Italy. Here is her 'what to pack'
list which is well worth following and also forwarding to your pals
who are heading that way. Susan writes ...
Italian women dress
stylishly without a lot of fuss.
So color coordinate your outfits, add lightweight accents
(scarves and jewelry), be neat, and all will be well.
will end up being a drag on your trip—unfortunately
the days of scurrying porters are over and you’ll end
up having to lug about your own belongings—packing light
is so much more sophisticated!
you can always hand wash, or get to a laundry or dry cleaner
while you’re there.
what’s the hardship in having to buy extra clothes or
shoes in Italy? There are always bargains to be found in the
daily outdoor markets in Rome and Florence.
Even budget hotels have them.
They get stuck in the cobblestones.
feel odd unless you’re biking or on a beach.
Meaning your gym shoes or white sneakers. That said, comfortable
shoes are important as you’ll be doing lots of walking.
Make sure you have good rubber soles, as leather slips on
the slopes in the hill towns. These days Italian women sport
fashionable flat-heeled boots or fancy colored sneakers for
To always carry with you on “iffy” weather days.
You’ll regret having to buy one from eager street vendors
who jack up the price the moment the sky opens.
double as toilet paper. There will inevitably be places that
Band Aids and moleskin:
In case of foot blisters.
This is the stuff that can really add weight, so bring only
what you need. Hotels generally supply shampoo, conditioner,
and body lotion.
Lightweight duffel bag:
To fill with souvenirs for your return trip.
Bikini for warmer months:
That’s right! Even if you feel like you’re past
your bikini times, you’ll feel odd at Italian beaches
and lakes in a one-piece. You’ll see that women of every
shape and size would rather feel the sun than fret about their
bodies. So go ahead and join in on the pleasure…
Cover-Ups for anything sleeveless.
At Saint Peter’s in Rome, you’ll be turned away
if your shoulders aren’t covered, and all those many
churches in Italy with the beautiful masterpieces inside would
prefer that you follow the shoulder-cover modesty when you
Copy of your
passport, credit card numbers, and toll-free numbers to call
in case of credit card loss. Give another
copy and your itinerary to someone who can easily be reached,
so they can be sent to you if necessary.
Before you go,
call your bank and credit card companies to give them a heads
up, as in these days of high security, they may block your
card if they aren’t forewarned about your foreign spending.
Pages of guidebooks:
Rip out those that apply to your destination. Don’t
take the whole heavy book.
for the cities you’ll be visiting. These laminated,
purse-friendly, well-indexed maps are far superior to
the ones hotels and tourist kiosks hand out. You can buy them
in U.S. bookstores or online: www.streetwisemaps.com.
for Use*: A unique, practical, lightweight guide
and phrasebook containing all the nitty-gritty details you’ll
need as you travel—trains, driving, eating, making phone
calls, public transportation, etc.
à la Susan...
Use Wire Hangers:
I know Joan Crawford would be horrified, but putting all your
clothes on wire hangers, which you
then roll up in plastic to prevent wrinkling and then whoosh
into your hotel closet when you arrive, cuts down on unpacking
time, which gives you more time for Italy.
Have a bag
for undies, and a separate one for socks and hose so you can
decant them to separate drawers, then a cosmetics bag to drop
in the bathroom…and you’re done!
Have a Dress Rehearsal:
Here I go confessing my corny secret packing ritual: I take
my inspiration from Cher in
Moonstruck—the scene where she gets ready for her date
with Nicholas Cage. To get psyched for my date with Italy,
I put my mirror center stage, have a glass of white wine nearby,
Andrea Bocelli blaring in the background, and all the wardrobe
possibillities on the bed, including jewelry and scarves.
Then I dress for the plane, for that day I know I’ll
be touring a museum, for that special dinner, etc. Inevitably,
this is where I’ll figure out what to mix and match,
what shoes won’t work, and cut out half of what’s
on that bed.
And so your
light, lovely Italian adventure begins. Safe journeys, everybody.
of 100 Places to go in Italy ...
Van Allen’s book, 100
Places In Italy Every Woman Should Go, offers
great advice for Journey Women looking for the best of bell’Italia.
Here are 5
of the author’s many favorite places:
Uffizi Gallery, Florence -- Renaissance artists show their
reverence for the female here, in stunning masterpieces from
Botticelli’s Birth of Venus to Raphael’s Madonna
of the Goldfinch.
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua --This is one of my top Italian
interiors, right up there with the Sistine Chapel, but without
the crowds. Here the genius painter Giotto created heavenlyThe
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua frescoes, celebrating the life of
the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Barberini, Rome -- The princess played by Audrey Hepburn
in “Roman Holiday” lived in this ultra-opulent
palace. Now it’s Italy’s National Gallery of Art,
and a sublime place to wander through splendid art galleries.
Beach, Positano -- The dreamy Amalfi Coast village of
Positano is home to several wonderful beaches. My favorite
is Arienzo beach, tucked into a cove, where you’ll experience
peaceful bliss with mesmerizing views, and can also enjoy
a delizioso lunch (try the gnocchi!) from Chef Ada.
Shopping in this Fashion Capital of the World is stepping
into the future. Newborn styles, fresh from megastar designers,
fill the store windows. Whatever you buy here will be sensational
for several seasons, or simply window shopping is also a blast.