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Proper Attire in Italian Churches

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Apr 21st, 2009, 07:41 PM
  #1
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Proper Attire in Italian Churches

I'll be in Italy in June and was wondering what the expectations are for attire in getting into the churches and cathedrals in Italy and specifically Rome. I don't want to be turned away but I do expect the weather to be warm. Please give me some guidelines. Thank you!
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Apr 21st, 2009, 07:54 PM
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Shoulders are expected to be covered. I always wore a skirt, just barely above the knee, a tank top or spaghetti straps top, and then stuffed a think silk scarf in my bag that i could pull out and cover my shoulders with.

hope that helps.
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Apr 21st, 2009, 07:56 PM
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St. Peters is the strict one. The dress code has little to do with the weather.

Look at "Quick Facts" section of:
http://www.sacred-destinations.com/i...s-basilica.htm

or
http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/t....htm#dresscode
http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/P...essCode-JG.jpg
greg is offline  
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Apr 21st, 2009, 08:38 PM
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Most churches won't care. St. Peter's is the one with the major "rules." Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered and you'll be fine. It's a pretty simple matter of respect. I saw a guy outside the Vatican once go ballistic because he'd traveled who knows how far to get there and wanted to get in but they wouldn't let him because he was shirtless and wearing shorts. What was he thinking?
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Apr 21st, 2009, 09:24 PM
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Last summer I was expected to cover up in Siena. I had brought a silk scarf which I wore for a while, but it was stifling hot and so I removed it once inside. No one confronted me, but I did feel uncomfortably "exposed". My advice: pack a silk scarf. They fold up so they don't take up much room, and you won't have to wear the paper ponchos at the churches. I agree that you definitely need to cover up at the Vatican; it's like airport security there. However, even many of the small churches out in Tuscany will expect coverage. For the amazing art that you will see, it is worth it!
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Apr 21st, 2009, 10:05 PM
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Am I the only person in the world who wouldn't dream of entering a house of worship of any denomination in shorts and/or with bare shoulders? I don't get the silk scarf business. If a person knows he/she will be entering churches, why wouldn't she/he wear something modest.
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Apr 21st, 2009, 10:26 PM
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I agree with Pegontheroad. I'm not particularly regligious but it seems obvious that respectful attire is going to be the considerate thing to wear. A short sleeved top of some description, I would imagine not too much cleavage, and long length shorts/capris/jeans/skirt etc. I find it incredible that this topic even comes up so often. Surely it's mostly commonsense??
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Apr 21st, 2009, 10:40 PM
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One of the benefits in traveling abroad is to realize that what you hold as common sense is not common at all in other cultures.

I go to churches regularly in the U.S. and I see shorts, sleeveless dresses, and mini-skirts all the time.
greg is offline  
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Apr 21st, 2009, 11:08 PM
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Hi greg, it's amazing isn't it?? I wonder if somebody said to gardeninggal 'what should I wear to a church' what would her answer be - "ok, a strapless top and your shortest skirt will be fine"?

I amazes me that so many Americans ask this question when a large part of the rest of the world sees Americans as particularly conservative. Certainly we do here in Australia, where in American shows, even pieces of art work have their breasts and genitals 'blurred' in case anyone should be offended.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 04:52 AM
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cathies--you aren't seeing the same American shows I can get on TV. I've certainly never seen artwork shown on TV that was censored as you described. Though I don't watch the born-again Christian channels, maybe you're watching some of their shows, though I can't imagine even them blurring out breasts on a painting.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 05:42 AM
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Since I live in Italy and enjoy seeing so many immodest nudes and genitals inside the churches, I think the cover-up rule for visiting the Vatican is evidence of a peculiar body-hating that comes and goes. I'm not at all surprised that people who aren't Catholics don't think they need to "cover up" their shoulders and knees (what's immodest about shoulders and knees?).

As Larry Flynt once said, if you don't like the body parts, complain to the manufacturer.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 05:50 AM
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nobody mentioned that men are expected to remove hats/caps.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 06:27 AM
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"I don't get the silk scarf business. If a person knows he/she will be entering churches, why wouldn't she/he wear something modest."
>>When you're spending a whole day walking and it's 100 degrees, modest dress is a bit more difficult.

While St. Peter's is the only strict one, some other churches in Rome have signs at the entrances asking for shoulders to be covered.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 02:37 PM
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Rufus I don't watch born again Christian shows - you obviously didn't read my earlier post about not being very religious!! I wish I could think of an example, but can't at the moment.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 03:00 PM
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The proper attire questions has been raised, answered, raised again and answered again and on and on. It is hot, very hot in the summer in Rome, out of respect just have a coverup. I always carried an wrap around skirt just in case, it only takes a minute to cover up shorts and the scarf around my neck covered my shoulders - no problem. The ball caps should be removed in a house of worship, I could go further and say in also in restaurants, at the dinner table, at movie theaters, etc.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 03:25 PM
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"it seems obvious that respectful attire is going to be the considerate thing to wear."

Who is this supposed to be "repectful" to? God's embarrassed about Her creation, is She?

Christ never said anything about dress codes - but he had an extraordinary amount to say about people telling other people how to behave in church. Only in Italy does Catholicism descend to this profoundly unChristian intolerance. I've never come across any variety of Christianity outside Italy (not even in America) that believes dress codes have any place in religion - except, of course for the crucial question of whether a bishop, during a service he's not presiding over, should wear a black or amaranth biretta or a camauro.

People - like Greg and me - who actually go to church regularly know that Christians wear whatever they feel like to pray. Italy's obsession with hiding legs has nothing to do with religion (Catholics have been gawping at pretty girls during Mass for 2,000 years) or prudery (my local church is stuffed with medieval paintings of naked ladies). It's simply the Italian neurosis about making a brutta figura.

Something that's fine for etiquette manuals - but totally out of place in a house of God.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 03:33 PM
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hi gal,

the Vatican is easy to deal with as others have suggested - a light scarf or shirt that you can put on over your t-shirt is the answer. However, the rules elsewhere do tend to be somewhat inconsistent and capricious. eg - in Florence, we were at our third [or 4th] church when DH was stopped, apparently because of his shorts - which were not revealing in the least. [think Carry on up the Kyber or Scouting for Boys circa 1930]. rather than require him to leave, he was offered a sarong to put around his nether regions. we still refer to his offensive knees!

given that virtually nonne of the people visiting these churches is doing so for any religious purpose I don't really get the "lack of respect" criticisms; being purely practical however, it's shame not to see something just because you're wearing the wrong clothes.

hope you enjoy your trip,

regards, ann
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 03:35 PM
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One does wonder why anyone would have to dress for a church. I thought it was supposed to be the house of god, not the house of the fashion police.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 03:44 PM
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kerouac wrote: "One does wonder why anyone would have to dress for a church. I thought it was supposed to be the house of god, not the house of the fashion police."

Wonder, if you want to. Just remember that they own the church, and can make the rules.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 04:36 PM
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No one on this board would ever, ever, EVER dare suggest that the strictures of the Jewish faith....or the Muslim faith...in matters of dress are absurd and outdated and should be ignored or scoffed at, when visiting a temple or mosque.

I repeat, no one here would dare.

Padraig has got it spot-on: They own the church, admission is a privilege not a right and they can make the rules.

Signed: tedgale, non-Catholic
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