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What to Wear to the Vatican: 7 Packing Items to Know

Does your next vacation or business trip lead you to the Vatican? And, is what to wear to the Vatican proving to be a challenge? This guide offers you crucial clothing tips you should consider.

“When you go to Rome, do as Romans do” a famous phrase goes. And this seems to apply literally even in matters, dressing code. Any visitor is, therefore, likely to become inquisitive about what to wear to the Vatican.

If you want to get the most out of your stay in this beautiful city, you need to know what to pack. You don’t want to get there and leave unfulfilled, having not enjoyed the beautiful sceneries of Vatican City.

Roman fashion trends are most likely different from what’s popular in other parts of the world. But, choosing what to bring to the Vatican City and to other beautiful Italian places requires balancing your personal style, comfort, practicality, and reverence for the Vatican City rules.

When planning a trip to Rome, you should be aware of the Vatican City traditional clothing if you wish to explore this magnificent city. Understand better the Vatican dress code and the special requirements you need to follow.

Luckily, this piece brings you up to speed.

Vatican Dress Code

Vatican City is a dream destination for many. Everyone wants a chance to go to Rome to catch a glimpse of the amazing

Sistine chapel or St.Peters Basilica, stroll the Roman forum, walk the Vatican museums corridors & the Vatican gardens, and maybe finally get to see the pope. The list of the amazing things to do and see in Rome is endless.

But why is there a dress code for the Vatican?

Well, many consider the Vatican a holy place or an eternal city. And visiting such a place requires a certain level of decorum in matters of dressing. The Vatican has special dress code requirements that both locals and visitors should follow.

Some outfits are not allowed when visiting some Vatican City attractions or going to see the pope. You may queue for hours to get there only to be turned away.

So, to avoid such disappointments, here is a list of some of the clothing to avoid:

  • Mini-skirts
  • Shorts that are above knee-length for both Men and Women
  • Belly crop tops, sleeveless tops, or bare shoulders
  • Low-cut clothing
  • Clothes with slogans that could offend, skulls, or any other anti-religious pictures
  • Too casual flip flops
  • Ripped jeans and t-shirts
  • See-through clothing
  • Hats or caps will need to be removed (for men)
  • Wear a black outfit when meeting the Pope as a sign of piety and modesty

These rules are enforced by Vatican staff on every building entrance to both genders for modesty. Generally, you need to go with well-fitted attire, tasteful, not too flashy jewelry, have your hair and makeup well-groomed.

Typically, ensure your knees and shoulders are completely covered. And, pick attires that aren’t overly loose or snug.

Packing List for the Vatican

While you want to be stylish, packing for the Vatican requires one to take into account the different weather conditions.

Will the trip be during summer or winter?

What kind of items should I pack for the autumn or spring season?

Be sure to pack items that will be comfortable and classy for the season. However, they should be modest to avoid going against the rules of the city.

To help you with packing, we’ve compiled this list of what to wear to the Vatican:

1. Dresses

Romacci casual cotton dress

For girls and women, finding the perfect dress is the first step to starting your Roman holiday. Dresses are more feminine and can instantly make you feel respectful, girlish, and dressed up.

Suppose the dress is too flowery! No need to worry. You can mix and match, provided they are all in one outfit.

Picking the right dress can keep you cool, airy, and fresh even on a hot summer day. To determine the right dress, check the fabric.

Avoid polyester fabrics in the summertime and instead go for breathable ones like cotton dress, linen, rayon, or viscose.

Pack seven dresses if your itinerary is for a week and you want to pack only dresses. When packing dresses, you may pick whatever length you’re most comfortable with. So long as it’s not too short or too revealing.

If you bring strapless, thin straps dresses, or one revealing the cleavage, have a scarf, pashmina, or bring a cardigan to cover your shoulders for church visits.

2. Rompers

Waist Romper Jumpsuit

A beautiful alternative to dresses is rompers. For example, you can wear a long romper instead of a maxi dress.

Rompers are excellent because they offer the convenience of wearing shorts without feeling inappropriately dressed. The key when picking what to wear in Rome is to avoid anything that screams too casual or disrespectful from a distance.

So for rompers, pick structured fabrics like polyester or any other synthetic material instead of an all-cotton style. However, avoid polyester if the romper is too long and instead pick viscose or rayon fabrics.

Choosing a classic neutral color romper will make you look stunning and casual all at the same time, and you’ll still be comfortable in it.

3. Pants

Women's Ponte Knit Pant

Again, if dresses and rompers don’t appeal to you as a lady, choose pants.

In this case, avoid jeans and instead bring those lightweight capris or wide-leg pants.

It’s always good to check the weather forecast before you pack as it makes a huge impact on what to wear to the Vatican. Ladies will need to bring one or a few pairs of pants if the weather is likely to be cool during your Vatican trip.

While many may love leggings, some may be a bit inappropriate. Instead, opt for Ponte knit pants or any other comfortable and classy style like the Andrea legging from Anatomie.

For men, picking pants for your Vatican trip should be easy. Go for those that show modesty and decorum, and avoid those that sag or overly snag.

Sometimes men can also get by with longer shorts. However, jeans, casual and official trousers are always a better bet.

Consider lighter cotton for summertime, as the museums are crowded and hot at that time of the year.

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4. Skirts

High Waist Polka Dot Pleated Skirt

Skirts are a pretty girlish alternative to pants, dresses, and rompers. Just like with any other outfit, pick the ideal skirt that will be weather-appropriate.

For example, the best summer skirt fabrics include cotton, rayon, and linen. Choose the skirts that will perfectly match your tops for optimal versatility.

To achieve that, pick skirts with neutral, solid, and printed colors to match with your tops.  Avoid too many prints in both tops and bottoms unless you’re a pattern pro.

See Related: Holy Places in the World to Visit

5. Tops and Shirts

Men's Cotton Linen Henley Shirt

Finding the ideal top or shirt to pack for your Vatican City trip is also vital for both ladies and men. This depends on the weather conditions, and so it’s always good to check how the weather will be before you pack.

For example, on a hot summer day, a lady can rock a sleeveless but well-fit blouse. However, avoid the spaghetti straps or have a cardigan to wear or a scarf to wrap around your shoulders if you have to. On cooler days, then a long-sleeved top would be most ideal.

Avoid t-shirts with logos or funny images. The key is to choose neutral colors in chic styles and shapes as they can pair up nicely with a structured, detailed, or colorful pant or skirt.

You may pack a few, mix and match pieces that can match with anything like a V-neck t-shirt. Just ensure the clothing fits you well; it’s not too loose or snug but is customized for your body.

Men may choose linen formal or casual shirts. Avoid shirts with funny images or graphics also.

An important aspect is to understand how to pack shirts for traveling.  While improper folding techniques can ruin your traveling wardrobe capsule, knowing how to do it well can save you lots of space, and the shirt will remain wrinkle-free.

There are plenty of methods to fold your shirts, from the basic folding method to the rolling method and more.

Since you’re traveling and chances of bringing an iron or steamer is almost zero, and the hotel may fail to offer you one, you need to master how to fold shirts for traveling.

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6. Shoes

 Women's Belice Ballet Flat

Both genders need to pick the ideal shoes for their Vatican trip. The Vatican dress code shoes should be comfortable as you will be walking most of the time.

As a lady, you can go for open-toed shoes or sandals but stay away from flip-flops, casual sandals, and heels. Leave your stilettos behind and instead pick more comfortable shoes like sneakers for the Vatican tours. The Vatican museums are vast and can stretch for over 8 miles, so flat shoes or sneakers would be ideal.

While you should avoid heels, you may consider wedges. The stone streets may be hilly, uneven, or slippery when wet making it pretty challenging to walk on. If you don’t have the right shoe, your legs may become sore.

But have at least one pair of shoes and attire that can be worn for experiencing the local nightlife or dining out.

So, some of the best shoes for both genders to pack for your Vatican City trip include:

  • Ankle Boots for autumn and spring
  • Waterproof Boots for snow and rain
  • Ballet Flats for warm weather
  • Comfortable Summer Sandals and not flip-flops
  • Comfy Sightseeing shoes for year-round visits

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7. Caps

Sun Hat for Men or Women

Cap lovers can’t help to enquire about the rules regarding hat-wearing in Rome and Vatican City.

Well, hats are okay in summer and winter for walking the Roman streets. Brimmed hats can help protect the skin from the scorching heat of summer, and warm hats can keep the freezing cold of winter away.

However, the St. Peters Basilica Dress code prohibits men from entering with their hats on.

Most Rome Churches or main Basilicas have rules, and if you fail to abide by them, you may be turned away at the entrance.

Ladies can have their modest headgears on even when visiting the churches. Whether you want to clad a beanie or a simple fascinator hat, ladies are not forbidden from wearing hats when visiting Vatican City.

This means that your list of what to wear to the Vatican should be well informed- lest you ruin your trip.