Looking Like the LocalsMarch 2, 2005
I just answered Mary and took too long to do it, so you get her answer, too. Now I'm missing Italy....
Dear Rachael; I'll be going to Tuscany for 7 nights(Montecatini) and Rome for 2 nights at the end of our tour. I'm going with a tour group from Pleasanton, Ca (near Oakland) and would like your idea on what to wear so i don't look so touristi on our free days. I consider myself a young 53. What shouldn't I wear as well, i already know shorts and white tennies are a no, but since i'm leaving on Nov. 2, 2005 that won't be a part of my luggage anyway. I'm told by others that it will probably rain and be on the cold side. Are a nice pair of jeans appropriate?Thankyou for taking the time to answer. Sincerely, Mary
Oh, you lucky, lucky, LUCKY woman. And it's a great question.
Go get yourself the darkest black pair of jeans you can find. Black like you can't tell they're jeans. They'll fade later, after the trip, and you won't care. Get a nice black water-resistant jacket, lined for warmth, with pockets inside and out for lots of stuff, but it should be sleek and shouldn't LOOK like it has lots of pockets. I like it to fall to at least my thighs, and I like it to have a zip-off hidden hood. I have a great London Fog one that I got at Mervyn's, I think.....
Then, get some V-neck black tees, three or four of them (you can wash clothes every night and hang them over the radiator which you WILL have in your room, and they'll be dry by morning, even jeans -- you can totally get away with bringing only three pair underwear and socks, three tee shirts (including the sleeping one), one dark wool sweater, one pair jeans, and two pair of shoes (one boot and one nice pair if you bring a skirt)). And when you get there, buy two or three different colors of those fake pashmina shawls that they sell in stands everywhere. Don't pay more than 20euro. Wearing all black with a splash of color at the neck will make you fit in. Italians approach me all the time for directions while in Italy. Yay! That's my favorite part.... Then I open my mouth, and the jig is up. Best to keep your mouth shut and run the other way. Then they'll never know.
(Good black boots are great to wear -- Mephisto or even Birkenstock has a wonderful black boot that is water-repellant.)
Also important in the Non-Identification is what you carry -- I try to carry very little, except for bags holding things I've bought (the locals are holding those, too). If you hate ripping up books, buy two of your favorite travel guides, and when you get to a city, rip out the pages that you'll need while there, and keep them in one of your pockets. Get a good digital camera (with LOADS of memory -- most important part, expensive but worth it -- I usually take enough memory to take about 100 pics/day at highest resolution) that will fit in another pocket. Reserve an inside pocket for your driver's license and debit/credit card. Never ever use a different pocket. Yet another pocket should carry all your day money (easily obtained from any of the bajillion ATMs, just make sure you have a four digit passcode to get money out). Leave the passport at the hotel (the desk clerk may have asked to keep it for you, as they are allowed to do -- don't be scared, you'll get it back). If you want to carry a journal, I like those small Moleskines and a tiny pen, which fit easily into another pocket.
There! Now the only thing that will identify you is your tour group! Leave 'em in the dust, says I. And go sit in a cafe and watch the people scurry past, drink Prosecco at noon, and dream.
Sigh. Don't you want to go?