I have received much appreciated help from all of you in the past, so here goes again. I will be in Ostuni for 10 days in May. When in Italy (Rome and north), I have not worn shorts and usually wear more muted colors. Are shorts ok for men and women in Puglia? How about in churches there? Do people wear more colorful clothing? Thanks. Judy Y
We leave for this region in 3 weeks. I'm packing 2 skirts (one knee length, one maxi) and a maxi dress for me and taking one pair of jeans (wearing on the plane) that I'll roll up to capri length as needed. For my husband, I'm packing 2 pairs of very nice shorts (to the knee) and he'll bring one pair of jeans and maybe a pair of lightweight khaki colored pants For tops I'm taking nicer t-shirts of various colors (some brighter colors!) and a lightweight sweater and some scarves to complete my look. I've decided after 8 trips to Italy to dress up a bit more. I will take a single pair of shorts and a swimsuit, since we will be on the coast for several days, hoping the weather/water is warm enough for some beach time. I think you can wear whatever you want. You are on vacation, so be comfortable. I do suggest a travel type / knit dress to wear for dinner. We will pack in a carry on, and since we are on a bike trip, we'll have biking clothing with us as well. Look for 2 people on a red tandem, and introduce yourself --we might be in the region at the same time, maybe even in the same town at the same time - wouldn't that be fun?
Churches are houses of worship that tourists are allowed to visit; they are not tourism sites. Consequently, even if one can get away with shorts, I think it shows courtesy and respect to dress appropriately... no shorts, tank tops, halters, etc. If going to an elegant restaurant, one dresses appropriately. I think the same standards should apply to churches. Sorry if I'm sounding harsh, but I've seen so much inappropriate behavior by tourists, and it's so distracting. It's a sensitive point for me.
Small towns and countryside is more conservative than big cities. The south is more conservative than the north. What is acceptable in a coastal seaside town is not necessarily acceptable in a big city. Italians generally dress less informally than Americans. I had a good friend at the University of Florence (early 1980's). She was super cute. When on vacation on the coast (Versilia) she would wear miniskirts and anything as sexy as you can think of at the seaside. In Florence, she would not go to the city center with short sleeves, no matter how hot (and Florence gets extremely hot in summer). Ostuni is not a coastal town (albeit not too far from the sea), is a small town, is in the South. You should err on the side of caution and not be too informal, certainly not in a church. Wear light attire (May is warm) but it has to be nice (not worn out) and colors shouldn't be loud. There will be few, if any, Italian men in shorts that time of the year.
Buy some very light comfortable clothes that you would not feel embarassed to wear in a corporate office at work. That you can wear in a church. Smart casual is the way to go.
I'll be in Puglia at the beginning of June, probably for the 10th time. Roberto and Sherry are right. I've seen tourists turned away from churches or given a loaner covering to wear (personally I'd rather buy something from a souvenir stand to wear than use this item).
Thank you Sherry, Roberto and Zoe. I will plan on taking clothes that I usually take for other parts of Italy and throw in a swimsuit, just in case. Judy Y
Ellen, thank you also (unintended oversight). We will watch for your red tandem. Judy Y
Several times over the years I have seen women, young and not-so-young, wear shorts and tank tops when in southern Europe (Greece, France, Italy). I always cringed to see them. Sometimes they got unwanted male attention. Sometimes they just looked out-of-place. Save the skimpy clothes for the beach. Most (maybe all) churches in Italy prefer (require?) that shoulders and knees of everybody be covered.
On a side note, when I lived in Campania, the females would show as much skin as they cared to up top, but beyond skirts, would NEVER show their legs....I always wore jeans (as previous posters said, no matter HOW hot) and the one time I happened to walk about 3 blocks in shorts (running from the beach to my house because we forgot something), I got more attention from italians than I had almost ever received....
Thank you all. You have helped me decide what to pack and I appreciate it very much. Judy Y