My upcoming trip to Italy presents an exciting opportunity to see this culturally rich country through the eyes of its residents. I wonder to myself, what is it like to live in Venice? How do they manage the hustle and bustle of the tourist in Rome without becoming overly annoyed? What can I do to avoid the stigma of the “Ugly American”?
When David and I traveled through Northern Europe in 2007, it was in Russia that I learned the meaning of “Ugly American.” I’ll avoid providing details of the experience we found ourselves facing there in order to remain civilly thoughtful regarding this matter, warning only that the scene was ghastly, embarrassing and yes, ugly. I couldn’t help but take a photo of the Ugly American because life’s little lessons become opportunities to help us all present ourselves at our very best.
My mother taught me to dress nicely when I travel and frequently reminded me that we are an extension of our family and our country everywhere we go. She further instilled the virtues of adorning ourselves appropriately for church and when visiting religious sites, which will come in especially handy this time since churches, including St. Peters Basilica, are a part of my itinerary. I hear dress codes are strict there. The last thing I want is to be escorted away from St. Peters by a Swiss Guard for not being properly dressed! No wonder I am thumbing through guide books and etiquette articles written by others as well as by me, eager to be pretty rather than ugly in Italy.
If you are looking forward to an opportunity to visit Italy, consider these style tips for visiting Vatican City. They come in handy also for respectful appearance at any religious site:
- Religions sites request decency while avoiding risqué, revealing attire.
- Covered shoulders are a must and avoid showing cleavage. Save that for date night!
- No shorts please. This applies to both men and women.
- Skirts to the knees or longer.
- Reasonable shoes, yes. Loud noise makers, blister makers and show stoppers are a “no-no.”
- Choose class over trend and style over leisure wear.
I look forward, on my return, to sharing what I learn, this time, about the pleasures of traveling as an attractive American.