While preparing for our recent trip to Italy, we did our research to try to understand what we should wear. I looked at several websites and the overall consensus was that wearing shorts would make you stand out as a tourist because Italians do not wear shorts unless it is in the middle of the summer or they are going swimming. Also, apparently, some cathedrals will not let you enter wearing shorts.
I am here to tell you, that this is incorrect. You can wear shorts in Italy and look perfectly normal.
Here are a few examples of Italians we saw wearing shorts in Italy when it was in the mid-80s in September.
We knew the temperature was expected to be in the mid-80s and 90s, but we also wanted to fit in with the local attire. I went ahead and packed three pairs of pants and three pairs of shorts. I am so glad I decided to pack some shorts!
On the first day, I wore some light khakis. We went to the Vatican and found that there were plenty of men wearing shorts. They were all allowed into all the chapels and museums.
On the second day, we went to the Colosseum and Roman Forum. This time I opted for shorts and once again I was surrounded by people wearing shorts. On the last day in Rome we did a lot of walking, went to Campo de’ Fiori, the Trevi fountain, Pantheon, and a few other sites and once again found the majority of people were wearing shorts.
In fact, I think you would stand out more if you went to the Colosseum in pants on a hot day than sticking with shorts. Also, remember that Rome is full of tourists, so even if you were “dressed like a tourist” you wouldn’t stick out anyway unless you are dressed horribly.
So why the misconception that Italians do not wear shorts?
- There are plenty of men wearing suits or slacks, but they are working. This is how they dress to go to work. When they are not at work, they wear shorts too. I saw plenty of Italian men on the Metro, at the market, going out to eat, all wearing shorts.
- You can wear shorts in Cathedrals, they just have to cover your knees. Below is a sign going into a cathedral. It is very clear you can wear shorts, they just have to cover the knees.
Now that we know we can wear shorts, here are a few other tips for clothing to wear in the summer in Italy:
What to Wear When Sightseeing in Italy in the Summer
So yes, wear shorts. You also want to make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes or sandals because you will be walking and on your feet all day long.
What to Wear When Going in Churches
Some sites online say you will be asked to leave if you wear shorts in churches in Italy. This is incorrect. Some will not allow short shorts, and you must cover your shoulders. If your shoulders are not covered, you will have to buy something at the Cathedral that looks kind of like a poncho, so just dress accordingly.
Here is a picture of a lady who was not covering her shoulders and short shorts and is now wearing a poncho-looking cover-up. To the right is a picture of men wearing long shorts in a cathedral.
Pantheon Dress Code
If you are deciding what to wear at the Patheon keep in mind that short skirts, short shorts, and bare shoulders are not permitted. When we went, Dan wore longish shorts and t-shirts and Michelle wore a dress that went just past the knees and covered her shoulders.
Vatican Dress Code
On the website for the Vatican museum, it says “Low cut or sleeveless clothing, shorts, miniskirts, and hats are not allowed.” If you go in the summer, you can wear shorts in the Vatican or a skirt, but make sure they cover your knees.
What to Wear When Eating Out
Once again, a lot of websites say you should not wear shorts and should wear nice shoes. I think this is also misleading. Just like anywhere I have traveled, it depends on the restaurant, location and time. If you are going to be in a very touristy part of town, wear what you feel comfortable in for that restaurant. Regardless of where the restaurant is, if it is a casual restaurant, then dress casually. If it is a really nice restaurant you need to dress up more.
Overall, during your trip to Italy, dress comfortably and put together and you will be just fine. I hope you enjoy your trip! Let me know if you have any tips yourself below.
He is an expert travel advisor and enthusiast. He has traveled extensively in the USA, Central American, South America and Europe. He has visited every Sandals Resort and is one of a select few Diamond Elite members of the Sandals Chairman’s Royal Club.
Dan graduated from Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Later he graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with a focus on people and culture.