Engineering Rome

Packing List

I’m not going to tell you how many pairs of underwear to bring or how many shirts or pens to bring. Those are personal preference. However, I will go over the things that are not so ordinary that you must/should bring.

MUST Bring

  • Passport. You will likely need this to board the plane from the U.S. to Europe (wherever that is). The reason is because they know you must have your passport in Europe.
    • Take a photo of your passport photo page and store it in your phone and in the cloud. If you happen to lose your passport, it’s good to know exactly what its number is and what it looks like.
  • Closed-toed hiking shoes or boots. How do you know what you are bringing is adequate? These types of shoes are marketed as hiking shoes/boots or work boots.
    • These will be used on a short hike down into the aqueduct in Vicovaro. This hike has, in places, thick blackberry bushes, nettles, and areas where one must establish footing on dirt, and rock. A sturdy hiking shoe is essential for your safety and comfort.
    • These will also be used on our tour of Metro Linea C. This is an active construction site where safety dictates that you must wear sturdy hiking or work shoes/boots. This means absolutely no sandles (even if they are made for hiking), trainers, running shoes or other non-sturdy footwear.
    • These shoes DO NOT need to be steel-toed. In fact, I would advise against bringing steel-toed boots. Really heavy.
    • Running shoes are not hiking shoes. The distinguishing characteristics are: 1) reinforced, less pliable sole so that you can step on rocks, nails and jagged things without hurting yourself, and 2) sturdy material made to protect your foot as opposed to a typical running shoe’s fly mesh, which is made to reduce weight, not protect your foot.
  • Comfortable walking shoes. We do a lot of walking during Engineering Rome. At UW I average 6-10k steps/day and in Rome I average 14-16k/day. It’s no joke.
  • Mobile phone. In addition to the Italian one the Rome Center requires for you, you should bring your normal one. I didn’t need to tell you that this is a “must” did I? That said, I do not recommend carrying it in a non-secure way such as sticking half-way out of your back pocket. Pickpockets LOVE to snatch phones…especially iPhones.
  • Outlet converter. Italian outlets are different than U.S. outlets. You need a converter. Cheap ones make it so that you can plug U.S. things into European outlets. More expensive ones actually have a transformer that steps down the voltage from 240V to 120V. While many electronic devices you own use transformers that are SUPPOSED to work with voltages up to 240V, they may not. I have lost more than one transformer on my Surface over the years.


  • At least one or two nice outfits. Romans dress better than Americans (on average). It doesn’t have to be a formal outfit, just something beyond the usual tourist wear. Remember, it is likely to be hot in Rome (highs in the 90s, lows at night in the 60s). For instance, I have a colorful collared button-down Bonobos shirt to go with a pair of Ted Baker red/salmon shorts. You can look at summer style options at Norstrom and then recreate them with cheaper similar-looking options. Contrast that with 3/4 length cargo pants and a concert tee-shirt. If you are a woman, my expertise is limited but my wife and daughter say something like a flowy summer top and nice shorts or a skirt is one option.
  • Light rain jacket. It will rain while we are in Rome. Likely some light rain and at least one thunderstorm. I like to go out in the rain – it’s refreshing on a hot day. Better to have a rain jacket on when you head over to the Pantheon in a rain squall.
  • Something to quickly cover your shoulders and legs. Most churches will not let you enter unless you have clothing that covers your shoulders and (if you are a woman) your legs down to your knees. The savvy traveler packs something like a shawl or scarf (or two) that they can stow in their backpack when they wear bare shoulder or upper leg clothes. Then, before the enter a church, they break out their scarf/shawl to cover their shoulders and a scarf to form a knee-length skirt. Presto!
  • Some clothes that are a bit loose and flowy. It is hot and sweaty in Rome. Something that is not skin-tight offers a bit of air flow around you and helps keep you cool.
  • Clothes that dry quickly. You will not have a clothes dryer. Therefore, everything must be air-dried. Nice to have something that you can wash and have it be dry in an hour.
  • Thing(s) to keep the sun out of your eyes. Sunglasses and/or a hat. It’s sunny in Rome.
  • Something in which to safely carry your money. As with any big city, there are pickpockets and they can spot tourists (you) and often take them as an easy mark. So, when I carry large sums of cash I carry it in a small neck wallet.
  • Small backpack or something to carry around a few essentials. Things like sunscreen, a snack, water bottle, tour book.
  • Water bottle. Rome is hot and sweaty. And there are free spigots of cold water all over town. It’s fantastic. The nasoni (literally, “noses”) supply cold, fresh, drinking water all over town. You can drink directly from the nasoni, but you can also refill your water bottle. If you have one.
  • Computer. If you have a laptop/iPad/Surface/Galaxy/etc. bring it. It is much easier to work on your own computer than those at the Rome Center. You will have much more flexibility. These days a good mobile computer can be had for less than $500. Plus, the Rome Center and your apartment have WIFI. 
    • BRING A BACKUP POWER CHORD – those pesky transformers have been known to fry at the worst times.
  • Sunscreen. It will be hot there – at least hotter than Seattle. We have all become delicate Seattle flowers during our time here and need to protect ourselves from the sun.
  • Small backpack or something to carry around a few essentials. Things like sunscreen, a snack, camera, tour book.
  • Tour book. I highly recommend a handy Rome guide. My pick is the Rick Steves Rome book.
  • Italian phrase book. These are filled with useful things to say and I find it more stimuating than Google translate. A phrase book gives you ideas on what to try…usually by genre. Make it a point to use one phrase per day during Engineering Rome. Scusi, vendi orecchini qui? (Excuse me, do you sell earrings here?)

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