What to Wear in Italy During the Summer (Yes You Can Wear Shorts)

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 Italian’s 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, this is incorrect. You can wear shorts in Italy and look perfectly normal.

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Here are a few examples of Italians we saw wearing shorts in Italy when it was in the mid-80s in September.

Romans wearing shorts Guy wearing shorts in Florence ItalyWearing shorts in Rome

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. 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. 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?  

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Vatican and pantheon dress code

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 a men wearing long shorts in a cathedral.

Cover your shoulders in church in ItalyWearing shorts in an Italian church

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 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.

 

5 thoughts on “What to Wear in Italy During the Summer (Yes You Can Wear Shorts)”

  1. Thanks so much for publishing this! I travel extensively and dress nicely, but, in the end, comfort is most important. I am very ‘hot natured’ and find shorts and light linen or all cotton shirts are great for me in the summer in Europe. Interestingly, you still see websites that say shorts are not worn in Spain as well. What a joke, Madrid is so hot and filled with locals and tourists alike in shorts, male and female. Sad to say, but some of the locals dress rather sloppily, no more so than a sloppy dresser in the US, but don’t let websites convince you that everyone is a fashionista. Some dress is dictated by the restaurants and I’ll take nice business casual slacks and shirt for a nicer restaurant. I’m pretty much over the jacket-required type places as one can find something a little less stuffy with just as good a food. Hint for men, black jeans are a great way to feel a little more dressy while still having the comfort of denim. I was in a Michelin starred restaurant in Edinburgh last summer, it was lunch, not dinner, and wore black jeans and a nice shirt and fit right in. In fact, one other gentleman had on black Levi’s as well. You can’t miss the pop of that red Levi tag on a pair of black jeans. Happy travels.

    • Thanks for the comment, I was in Spain last spring and didn’t even think about wearing anything other than shorts. Glad no one tried to convince me otherwise before we went. We like to go to Michelin restaurants for lunch too because you can get away with a more casual dress and you can save a lot of money that way.

  2. Thank you so much for your post! We are leaving in a few weeks and I’ve even posted the question on a forum and pretty much everyone thinks I need my whole family in pants for our summer trip to Italy the whole time just in case we want to pop into a church.. We are from Houston and understand heat. My husband already has shorts that cover his knees. I’ll probably have everyone wear pants to the Vatican, but other than that, we will be in skirts or long shorts.

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