Italians take pride in their appearance and expect tourists to dress appropriately as well if they are to earn respect from the locals. When traveling to Italy, it’s important to try and respect the customs of the county when it comes to clothing styles and preferences.
- When visiting churches, you are visiting and place of worship where correct wardrobes are taken seriously. Be sure that your shoulders, cleavage and waistline are completely covered as you walk through the church, even if you’re there just to view the art. Carrying a cardigan can keep you covered appropriately over long slacks or a skirt. Also be sure to avoid short pants or skirts as showing your knees in the church is considered inappropriate.
- Short shorts and short skirts as well as most forms of denim mark you easily as a North American tourist in Italy. Italian models might take pictures in short skirts, but these skirts are not the norm in the country. Unfortunately for those uninitiated to Italian customs, men in the country might decide that wearing a short skirt is a bit forward and pinch your bottom as a means of flirting with you. To avoid this sort of thing, dress with sophistication and keep your legs covered to the knees.
- Tennis shoes or sneakers might be the most comfortable footwear for you to march along city streets and explore, but athletic shoes are expected to be worn for exercise only in Italy. You can likely get away with wearing tennis shoes in the morning to explore the city under long pants, but be sure to change into comfortable leather shoes when you visit more formal locations and especially in restaurants.
- Sloppy clothing such as over-sized and sagging pants or over-sized t-shirts are frowned upon in Italy. You might easily find yourself the target of many stares if you throw on your giant comfortable shirt over a pair of sagging jeans, even to walk around the piazzas and fountains. Italians work hard to look sharp, even when being casual, and you’ll want to present yourself in a similar form if you hope to avoid stares and comments.
- Dark sunglasses can be your best defense while wandering through Italy. With a large pair of dark sunglasses, locals won’t think you’re looking at them while you’re searching for a landmark around you, and you can frantically scan street signs without looking lost and worried. Grab a couple of pairs of sunglasses to put in your bag along with an umbrella as you just never know what the weather will bring.