What to wear in Italy

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church dress code
Churches in Europe often have strict rules about attire, so be prepared!
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Wondering what to wear on your Italian vacation? We have the answer.

Are you wondering what to wear in Italy on your upcoming vacation? When traveling to Europe, one of the most fashionable places in the world, the best way to dress is simply and tastefully. Being stylish doesn't hurt, either!

What not to wear

When going down your packing list of what to bring for your trip to Italy, be sure to leave off the gaudy jewelry, oversized shirts with logos, fanny packs, baseball hats, beach flip flops or anything else that isn't very classy. These items will cause you to stand out like a sore thumb as a tourist, which will make people treat you differently (not always for the better) and possibly even target you for pickpocketing.

The warm weather dilemma

Summers in Italy can get quite hot with highs in the 80s and 90s, and you may become uncomfortable in heavy pants. While shorts for women are an option, they aren't worn often by European women and may cause you to stand out slightly. If you want to fit in more with the locals, choose a skirt of a tasteful length or accessorize a light and comfortable dress (my favorite summer attire is a sundress). It's best if you can find a dress that you can comfortably don during the day and then dress it up for a nice dinner by adding a cardigan or shawl; then you don't have to pack as many clothes.

It's important to know what to wear, especially at churches. Major churches such as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence require conservative clothing to enter. Not religious? It doesn't matter; in Italy, churches are home to some of the world's best art and the tombs of secular legends such as Galileo and Michelangelo. In most of these churches, men and women must have covered shoulders. Sleeveless shirts aren't as common for men so that is not usually a problem. However, they certainly are for women, so it's easy to show up sporting inappropriate attire by mistake.

If you do opt for sleeveless clothing, some churches won't let you in, but some have disposable paper shawls you can drape over your shoulders. However, they are not very attractive or comfortable (they look like wax paper). If you want to go sleeveless that day, be sure to bring a thin cardigan or scarf in your day bag that you can cover up with. You can also buy a beautiful scarf that doubles as a shawl in the markets of any big city; Florence and Rome have hundreds of merchants that sell beautiful scarves, and you can get them for as little as 5 to 10 euro (remember, you can bargain!). Many of these churches also do not permit short shorts to be worn inside either, so dress somewhat conservatively if you will be frequenting churches in Italy. To be safe, both men and women should wear something that goes to their knees.

Dressing for cold weather

What to bring with during the cooler months? Jeans used to be rare in Europe, but they have become popular in recent years and are now worn by Italians with more frequency. You can't go wrong with jeans if you need coverage, especially since dirt does not show up on them easily.

Just remember that jeans are heavy to pack and difficult to wash or dry quickly. If you are backpacking or trying to pack lightly, you may be better off with pants made of thinner materials. Some companies make knit pants especially for travel; they are very light and dry quickly.

You may also want to consider a pair of thin and sleek gloves if you plan to spend much time outdoors when it's cold out.

If you didn't come prepared for cold weather, don't worry; leather jackets are extremely popular there. Many street merchants and shops sell leather jackets, many of very high quality. If you bring a jacket with you, you likely do not need more than one. Be sure not to overpack with bulky cold-weather clothes, or you may not have room to bring home gifts and souvenirs. Not sure where in the country you will be traveling yet? Sicily is a great place for a winter getaway!

These shoes are made for walking

When traveling in Belpaese, as it is often called, you will do a lot of walking. You may stand out as a tourist if you wear sneakers, and flip-flops after often considered tacky there. However, you won't be comfortable if you decide to go with your nicest dress shoes or heels all day long. Avoid the blisters and save the fancy shoes for a nice dinner in the evening.

For your daytime adventures, invest in some attractive walking shoes. Outdoor stores offer high-quality leather walking shoes that can be dressed up or dressed down depending on what you're sporting for the day. One of my favorite pairs of walking shoes for Italian travel are extremely comfortable leather Mary Janes made by Keen.

Now that you know what to wear in Italy, buon viaggio!

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