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Attire in Italy

I thought I recalled having read that shorts are not appropriate attire in Italy. However, everytime we view Rick's Italy CD, we see a LOT of people wearing shorts. Are those being worn by "ugly Americans" who just don't care if they offend the Italians? Or is the warning just to ensure no one wears those skimpy, cheek-revealing short-shorts and in fact classic shorts, about mid-thigh length are really OK?

Posted by
8985 posts

The only place it is inappropriate to wear shorts would be places of worship. Short of wearing an "I hate your local soccer team" t-shirt the locals won't chase you down the street with a pitchfork- no matter what you wear :) Having said that, there are those, including myself, who believe that by blending in a bit you make yourself less of a target for thieves, con-artists, and panhandlers. Knock on wood this strategy has worked well for me. But for the most part, the locals don't care how you dress.

Posted by
3313 posts

Michael's reply is one side of the debate on what to wear.

I take the side that you should wear what is comfortable. You'll be easily identified as a tourist unless you go out without guidebooks and cameras. It doesn't matter if you wear shorts or not.

That said, shorts are not allowed in most churches - and are certainly not respectful even if no one stops you. They're also not appreciated in nicer restaurants.

But for just walking around or touring the countryside, they're fine.

Posted by
8985 posts

I never said that by blending in a bit, I'm not identified as a tourist. I'm just making those who wish to dress as they do in the states more of a target for pickpockets. Your Welcome:)

Posted by
219 posts

I personally would wear tailored, comfortable clothing. That's also what Italians wear even in hot weather. They are so stylish. But of course there's an exception to every rule. If you're a college student, anything goes. Back in the days when I was a grad student, I remember wearing cutoff jeans and a t-shirt and able to enter all the churches but ST Peter's and that cathedral in Monaco. Would I wear that today? No way!

Posted by
43 posts

Carol - We just returned two days ago from 2 weeks in Italy. We took shorts and we were glad we did! It was very hot and humid and we saw everyone wearing shorts! I'm in my 50s and I wore longish, just past my knee shorts, cargo style with a tee shirt or sleeveless top. If we went into a church, I never had a problem...if your bra straps show (like with a tank top) they gave you a paper shawl to throw over your shoulders..but that never happened to me. In some towns, I saw more women wearing capris or skirts, but there were lots of men and women wearing shorts...after all, it's still summer over there..or it feels like it anyway! So you'll be fine! Sherry and Tom Trojanowski/Steger, IL

Posted by
7 posts

I dress conservatively in Italy, skirts are cool, and usually a sleeveless cotton top. I tour a lot of churches. I was denied admission to St. Peters, despite my skirt being down below my knees -- because a little shoulder was showing! I had to run out and buy a scarf to cover up! I couldn't believe it! NO SHORTS IN MOST CHURCHES, AND THE VATICAN IS THE MOST STRICT!

Posted by
45 posts

I've been to Italy several times over the years to tour and visit family. Here is what I observed. You can wear anything you want..which includes shorts...but you may be denied entry into churches, and people will spot you as an American (which can be good or bad). I've seen other Europeans traveling in shorts, but they are usually a bit younger. My suggestion to ladies is to wear skirts. If you want the comfort of shorts buy a skort, so you have shorts that are COMPLETELY hidden by a skirt. Pategonia, Title Nine, Athleta, and TravelSmith sell them,just to name a few. Some of them come with hidden pockets, which is great for hiding extra cash or a credit card. Skirts also tend to be cooler than shorts. Don't forget Capris. There are light weight pants and even jeans options that pants shouldn't be an issue. The intense heat of summer is almost gone. Shorts are great for the beach and hiking. City slickers tend be more refined and fashonable. Wear what suits you.

Posted by
800 posts

Yes, people wear shorts in Italy. They are especially appropriate in beach locations, when you are hiking, biking etc. Young people can get away with almost anything anywhere. And you WILL get turned away from St. Peters if your knees or shoulders are bare.

Beyond that you are not really offending anyone with your choice of clothing. The reason I recommend skirts or capris to women is that they are much more versatile. Traveling you just don't have the opportunity to wear whatever you want - you are limited to what you have brought. If you bring skirts/capris for summer in Italy then you have packed light (think weight), will be admitted into all churches (not turned away at Montecassino like we were), be cooler in the heat of the city and feel more comfortable checking out the nicer restaurant.

I'm not concerned with being targeted as a tourist, we are pretty obvious about that, but I really don't want to be labled as a slob. I save my worst clothing for housework, not travel.