Part of visiting any foreign country is immersing yourself in its beliefs. While the typical tourist traps are popular for a reason, don’t overlook visiting religious sites. However, you must dress conservatively and with respect for the particular religion of the site you are visiting. Each religious site you will visit has its own rules for dress that you must follow.
These are generally stricter for women than they are for men. The first rule of visiting any religious site is to ensure you aren’t showing any skin you aren’t supposed to.
Required clothing items usually include:
- long skirts
- closed toed shoes
- long sleeved blouses and other shirts
Long skirts should fall at your ankles. Closed-toed shoes are almost always a must as well. Since some religions frown on short sleeves, long-sleeved blouses or shirts must be worn during your visit. It may be helpful to wear a short-sleeved shirt or blouse under your long-sleeved tops. When you are in a warm environment, you will want short sleeves you can wear in between visiting sites.
Religious sites throughout Italy have their own preferences for dress. For example, visiting the Vatican entails a visit to St. Peter’s Basilica, where a certain level of dress is expected. Recommended items to wear when visiting include:
- a scarf for covering the shoulders
- pants, dresses and skirts knee length or longer
- shirts that sit lower than your waist
- a wrap skirt can be worn to cover a pair of shorts
For men, the standard for dress is more lenient. While anyone is allowed to wear jeans and shirts, tank tops are never permitted. However, men can wear a short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt, whereas women must have long sleeves. Alternately a cardigan sweater is acceptable for both men and women to wear.
European countries, including Italy, have high expectations in place when it comes to how you are dressed. The chest and shoulders must be covered up anytime you are at a religious site. At certain Christian churches, women cannot have their hair exposed. In addition to scarves, pashminas are also acceptable for covering your hair. In Roman Orthodox churches, this is something that must be adhered to.
It is important to understand that in Italy, dress codes aren’t something locals have placed on them. As Italy is well known for its fashion-conscious residents, dress codes are not a necessary part of everyday life. Italian citizens are naturally stylish and always know when something is or is not appropriate to wear. Therefore, dress codes are what separate the residents from the tourists. Yet they are still important when visiting sites of religion.
With so many to see, it would be a shame not to soak in every religious site Italy has to offer. Each site can help teach you something about what life is like there. Any trip to Italy should incorporate visits to its many impressive religious sites.