This time 6 years ago my kids had just started their first days at school in Italy – one at preschool (asilo) and the other at elementary school.
Elementary School, Tuscania, Lazio
Both of them had zaini (backpacks). Mind you at that stage, my daughter still had a small one (zainetto), as she didn’t need to carry as much as she has done so in recent years. They also had to wear a smock (grembiule). Black for the boys at elementary school, and white for the girls. We didn’t even know about the bows (which were only worn on the first day!).
The smocks at the asilo were different. Blue gingham for boys and pink gingham for girls.
We upgraded to this model, because this brand (which is quite expensive) is meant to last.
Even last year when she was in the final year of elementary school, her bag did get quite heavy, full of exercise books (quaderni) and textbooks (libri). If we were still in Italy, both of them would be at middle school and the textbooks would have cost a couple of hundred euros for each child. With no school lockers they would have had to carry lots of heavy books back and forth every day.