How to Dress for Rome in Summer
The incredible amount of ruins and monuments in the public streets of Rome has made the city well known as an open-air museum. The possibility of seeing historic sites all over town is as cool as it sounds, but during summer time, when temperatures in Rome easily reach 40°C, sightseeing for long hours can be a challenge.
To avoid having your holidays spoiled by the heat, knowing how to dress for Rome in summer is essential. No, you are not going to find Rome’s summer trends here, as you might have figured by now. But if you are interested in knowing how to bear the heat and feel comfortable during your visit, you are in the right place!
Polyester is your enemy
Unless you want to get as sweaty as an athlete at the end of a marathon, you better pay attention to your clothes’ fabric and leave the ones made of polyester at home.
Polyester is a petroleum-based fiber that doesn’t absorb perspiration. This means that, on hot days, all your sweat will be trapped right against your body, leaving you uncomfortably sticky and smelly. Wearing something made of polyester for sunny Rome would be as crazy as wearing a silk cardigan to face Russia’s winter.
Spare yourself the drama and fill your bags with cotton, rayon and linen clothes. They are more breathable and will make you more comfortable.
Protect your head
Rome is very green, but escaping the sun is still a hard task. Most of the monuments are very exposed to sunlight and it’s not uncommon to see people passing out after walking around for a long time or staying hours in line to enter a monument.
I’m sure riding an ambulance is not on your itinerary, so make sure you always have your head protected by a hat or an umbrella! Even if you are sightseeing by bus instead of walking, keep in mind that the top decks are not covered and you will have to protect your head anyways!
If you don’t want to bring a hat or an umbrella from home, you can find them all over town for reasonable prices. In front of touristic sites, they are sold by street vendors for between 5€ and 10€.
Watch your steps
Rome is not the place for you to inaugurate that new pair of shoes you bought. Considering the amount of walking that sightseeing in Rome requires, getting your feet hurt is not a risk you want to take, and we know how uncomfortable some shoes can be when they are still new.
“Oh, I have this very comfy pair of sneakers. They will do,” you may say. Well, that depends. If you are okay with wearing closed shoes for a long time in summer, then yes, your comfy sneakers are suitable!
But if your feet usually get swollen when temperatures are high or when you walk long distances, then that might not be the best choice.
I always recommend wearing comfortable sandals when sightseeing. They are very gentle on the feet, and allow them to breathe and cool down while you go through incredible places.
Mind the cobblestone streets
Some people don’t know, but Rome is full of cobblestone streets. Despite being very charming, cobblestone streets are also very harsh to walk on, and going through them with high heels or shoes with hard sole will definitely make you pay for your sins.
If you absolutely want to take that picture wearing high heels in front of the Colosseum, keep a pair in your bag when you visit and wear them just for the photo.
Cover your body
If your clothes don’t cover your shoulders and arms, carry something light to cover yourself in case you stay outdoors for a long time. That might actually save your skin (literally)!
It took my friend four hours in the ticket line of the Colosseum to get a perfect tan line of his T-Shirt – and he is not alone. People with fair skin might get seriously sunburned in Rome, and sometimes smearing sunscreen all over your body just isn’t enough. In this case, a large, light scarf helps a lot!
Vatican City’s dress code
Let’s face it, we all wear clothes during summer because walking around naked is not an option. If you are the kind of person that mitigates this problem by filling your summer holidays’ bag with short clothes, don’t forget to pack something less revealing in case you come to Rome and plan to visit the Vatican City.
The Vatican has its own dress code. Men and women are forbidden to visit its monuments while showing their shoulders and knees. So forget sleeveless shirts, tank tops, and any short shorts, skirts and dresses. That also means forgetting about clothes that show your chest.
And don’t think you can get passed this if you arrive with an expensive tour booked. The Vatican is very strict about its dress code and they will deny your entry anyways. But that’s understandable; you will be entering a religious site that requires modesty.
See? Knowing how to dress for Rome in summer can definitely make your holidays more pleasant, so pack wisely and enjoy the wonders of the city that never dies!