> SlowTrav > Italy > Instructions for Visitors

Going into Churches

Pauline Kenny

Much of the art in Italy is in Catholic churches. You are entering a place of worship and are expected to dress and act accordingly. Do not talk loudly. If there is a mass going on, wait until it is finished to examine the art near the altar. If there is a mass going on we usually just creep in and look from the back. When there is no mass, you can walk around and explore the church.

Pay to Turn on the Lights to see the Art

Many churches have coin activated lights. If the fresco or painting you want to see is in the dark, but you can see lights on the wall, look around for a box. You put money in the box and the lights turn on for a few minutes. On our 2002 trip, most boxes required a 0,50 coin.

It is custom to let the person who pays get the best place to stand for viewing.

Dress code for churches

Sign on Orvieto Doumo, 09/01

Some churches have signs telling you what type of clothing is acceptable, some have people at the doors turning people away who are not appropriately dressed. Some churches do not have a dress code. It varies from church to church. It is best to dress appropriately just in case they are turning people away because of inappropriate dress.

The sign to the right is from the door to the Orivieto Duomo. This is what it is trying to say:

  • Not Permitted: Men and women cannot be in short shorts or sleeveless tops.
  • Permitted: Men can wear long shorts (to the knee) and women can wear skirts to the knee.
  • No dogs, no cameras.

Usually both men and women must not wear sleeveless tops. If a woman carries a light shawl, she can use this to cover her shoulders and upper arms. Frequently shorts are not acceptable. We usually wear long pants in Italy, lighter weight ones in the summer.

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