What to wear for sightseeing around Italian churches

St Peter's BasilicaIf you have ever been to Italy before, especially to any of the main churches such as Duomos and Cathedrals, you would have noticed signs warning tourists of inappropriate attire. This seems like a little detail, but it’s actually nothing to laugh at! It certainly won’t seem funny if you are not able to access St Peter’s in Rome and, believe us, those are some strict guards.

When visiting churches and other religious buildings and sites, we strongly recommend dressing modestly: covered shoulders and knees are a must, and you won’t be able to get in anywhere unless you are wearing shoes (although sandals are fine!). So how do you put up with the summer heat in Rome and still get to see the beautiful frescoes in the Sistine Chapel?

For ladies, a dress or skirt below the knee would be perfectly fine, as are Capri shorts (below the knee). If you prefer a shorter skirt or shorts, pack a pair of tights or leggings in your bag and change just before entering the site. Wear a top with a short sleeve that covers your shoulders and doesn’t reveal too much cleavage or midriff. Another useful thing to have in your bag is a silk scarf to cover yourself should you be wearing a more revealing top!

For gents, the best option is lightweight trousers made of natural fabrics such as linen. Some people also swear by convertible zipper trousers, although these can be a little bit more cumbersome. No vests are allowed for either ladies or gents so avoid them! Any t-shirt or shirt with a short sleeve will do.

We know that planning your clothes for sightseeing is not exactly a thrill, but when visiting religious sites, remember that you are entering a place of worship and that you should be respectful. Modesty is practised in all churches in Italy (you would be surprised at how insistent they can be in even the tiniest Tuscany church!) and you should also follow it if you want to look at the wonders that all these churches hide. And for the treasures that you will find, wonders that will stay in your memory forever, it’s definitely worth it!

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