3 Tips for Dressing in Italy (as an American)

Dressing for the day in Italy isn’t easy. Especially when all of the women are wearing Dolce and all of the men look like a candy bar during an intense chocolate craving. After living in Italy for a few weeks, I learned these three wardrobe lessons the hard way…I’d never have thought about cobblestones or too much skin when I was packing, but it matters here.

1. Bring comfortable walking shoes or sandals After a week of sporting my very cute (but excruciatingly uncomfortable) but flat, support-free gladiator sandals, I purchased the Italian version of Birkenstocks at an outdoor market for 25 Euro (down from 55). So far they have been the best investment I’ve made because Italian streets and piazzas are mostly cobblestone or large, flat hard stones. Only newer streets are paved.

2. Skip the spikes Many clubs have a dress code, part of which requires women to wear heels. Do not bring stilettos to Italy. Most likely you will have a walk from your hostel to the clubbing area and stilettos get stuck in between the cobblestones, ruining both your shoes and your poor feet. Instead sport a nice pair of wedges or thicker heels.

3. Throw a scarf or sweater in your bag before leaving for the day. To enter churches you need to have your shoulders and knees covered, and cannot show any cleavage. In summer months it’s hot and people wear shorts and tank tops but you will be denied entrance if you aren’t properly attired. Some churches will give you an embarrassing felt-like, garbage bag-type garment to wear over your clothes if you ask for one or pay for it, but most will just deny you entrance flat out until you are properly attired.

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