As the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Of course, as a visitor, you don’t have to subvert yourself completely to assimilate into the local way of things. However, you might have a smoother trip if you keep a few basic do’s and don’ts in mind. Rubbing a Roman the wrong way might invite a dreaded sneer, trigger a “Mama mia” or inspire a nasty hand gesture. If you want to avoid some awkward social gaffs, cultural faux pas (passo falso) or tourist traps while in the Eternal City, here are 10 things not to do when in Rome.
1. Don’t Go to the Vatican in a Tank Top
Sure, summers in Rome are sizzling hot, and so is that slinky designer top you just bought on Via Condotti. But if you’re planning on visiting the Vatican (or any church, chapel or crypt for that matter), you’ll have to cover up that exposed skin and dress a little more modestly. There’s a strict dress code at religious sites, where shoulders must be covered and shorts and skirts should be down to the knee. Many women carry a shawl or scarf for this purpose, and some enterprising churches sell coverups for visitors caught bare-shouldered. You’ll hear of tourists who break this rule and get away with it, but as a sign of respect to the host culture, it is best to comply. Even men should adhere to this “no tanks, no short-shorts, no hats” dress code, or face being turned away.