What to wear to Rome this summer: 3 winning combos to beat the heat and get you into churches


Pants, Tank, Scarf

OK, remember how I said that Romans are still bundled up in spring?  Forget everything I said.  Starting around May 1, everyone in Rome decided to acknowledge that temps are in the 80s and switched wardrobes, seemingly overnight.  I see legs!  Arms!  Sometimes much more.  The outfits are definitely interesting.  I’ll have to try to capture some street style for you.

I’m glad for the switch.  It has been over 90 the past few days, and it is only May.  I’m a little leery of this summer.  Because we arrived at the end of August, we did not get the full Roman summer experience.

All of this to be said, if you are coming to Rome in the summer, as many tourists do, expect to sweat.  It can be pleasant in the shade with a breeze, but prolonged exposure in the direct sunlight is brutal.

Unfortunately, you can’t just pull out your easy summer dresses and call it day.  Because CHURCHES.  Many churches, most notably St. Peter’s, have a knees and shoulders must be covered dress code.  Some churches don’t have it.  Some churches don’t enforce it.  But you don’t want to wait in line for an hour only to be turned away.

Here are three combos that will keep you comfortable in the sun and get you in wherever you want to go.  These outfits also pass the Rome-test.  I’ve seen versions of all of these on locals.  Stick with these, and you won’t have to worry about sticking out as a tourist.

Option 1:  Easy top + Lightweight Crazy Pants + Breezy Scarf

This outfit is my go to, and I’m not even worried about church access 99% of the time.  It is just SO comfortable.  The fun pants make me feel like I tried, but it feels like I’m walking around in my pajamas.

Not only do they feel like an actual outfit, but they are high on function.  Want to climb on a bike in Borghese?  No problem.  Snagging a Vespa pic?  No awkward shifting needed.  Forgot to shave your legs because you have ALL the sightseeing to do?  No sweat.

In theory, the pants could also provide some protection from the punishing Mediterranean sun and those annoying mosquitoes that won’t take a hint.

Also, I think crazy pants also look good with most jackets.  Denim, leather, military, you name it.  Many cardigans would work as well.  Just in case you need a little more warmth at night when your trusty scarf isn’t cutting it.

Speaking of scarves, if you go for a tank option, the scarf is key.  As you approach the church, drape it around, and bare shoulders no more!  After many years of not knowing what to do with scarves, I am now fully obsessed.  Besides being a go to nursing cover, they are like washable necklaces!  Perfect for #kidlife.  Also, if you pack fewer clothes, they can help you spice up your wardrobe.  If I don’t wear different shirts in my normal life, you’d better believe I’m taking a minimalist approach to vacation packing.  Seriously, though, who cares what thousands of strangers you’ll never see again think?

Rome is a great place to stock up on scarves, as well.  I see them all over the streets for about three euro.  Functional souvenir?  Now you’re speaking my language.

When selecting your pants, go for a lightweight, breathable fabric.  Pass on the polyester.  I also steer clear of linen, but that is just because I don’t iron anything ever.

For style, I prefer the tapered leg, but you have about a bazillion options.  Wide leg, harem, palazzo, gaucho, you name it.

If you don’t like colorful patterns, you can get the same comfiness with a solid pant.  BUT if you ever felt like getting a little crazy in the pants department (name of Amy’s sex tape), this is a good town to try it.  Seriously, I’ve seen drop-crotch harem paisley pants walking down the street.  Just own it, and you can pants however you like.  Yeah.

Old Navy has TONS of crazy pant options. A cheap way to test drive the style.

A wider leg option. Forever21 also has tons of pants. Another cheap way to dip your toe into the crazy pants waters.

Uh. Well, then.  I would really like to see a conversation at the Vatican about these.

Ooo, I want these. I love that joggers are having a moment. What are things I NEVER thought I’d say even two years ago.

Option 2:  Maxi Dress or Skirt + Scarf

I don’t really do the maxi because, while I have many blessings, the gift of height is not one of them.  Also, I’ve gotten so lazy that I can’t handle any dress that requires a special bra.  So many of the cute dresses have spaghetti straps or some such tomfoolery.

But if you are into the maxi, this would be a great option for Rome.  I’d look for one with side slits, possibly two for movement and breeziness.  And remember!  If you don’t have sleeves, don’t forget your scarf.

This one just looks so cool and breezy to me. Side slits FTW!

Side slits for breeze, and sleeves mean you don’t even need a scarf. I think this would be super cute with sporty sneaks. Sneakers and dresses are a thing now. The internet told me, and it never lies.

Breaking my regular-bra-only rule, but I’ve never met a stripe I didn’t like.

Option 3:  Breathable Leggings + Tunic or Blousy Top

This option is also not at the top of my list, but I promise I see locals rocking it on the reg.  On the one hand, there is high opportunity for crazy pants.  On the other hand, fabric suctioned to my body does not sound cool and breezy.  BUT, if you get athletic wear, those pants are supposed to breathe, right?

My other issue with blousy tops is that so many are sheer, which would make me reach for another layer, which sort of defeats the purpose.  But, again, this is Rome.  I have seen completely sheer shirts, lace shirts, crochet shirts, and shirts with holes cut to the waist; all worn with regular bras.  (I have also seen many women exercising in regular bras, but this is another topic for another day.)  Also, bum coverage should not be a concern.  Do it if you are more comfortable, but I promise you won’t stick out.

Pretty! I love a good shirt mullet.

Bad ass.

I could see a lightweight button-up being perfect on its own or as your extra layer.

When doing crazy pants, go big or go home, I always say.

Clicking the pics should take you to the products.  Nothing affiliated; these are just things that caught my eye.  Old Navy and Nordstrom are both having sales.  (Although isn’t Old Navy always having a sale?)

So there you have it.  My formula:  easy top + crazy pants (or skirt) + scarf.  Everything you need for your upcoming trip to Rome.

But Melissa!  What about shoes???  You’ve forgotten the most important part!

I agree.  Shoes can make or break your travel day.  That’s why I’ll cover shoes soon in their own post.  [UPDATE: Shoes HERE.]  (And maybe dude style if I’m feeling ambitious.)  Till then, may the crazy pants be with you!

Have you embraced the crazy pants?  What’s your usual warm weather travel wardrobe?

Places my sons’ junk has been

I used to joke that I should start a tumblr with “places my son’s junk has been.”  Not with actual pictures of junk.  That would be all kinds of messed up.  But just the locations.  Stateside, I had a policy that if your (chain, family-oriented) restaurant did not have a changing table, we’d do a change in the restaurant.  On a bench if possible.  Always on a changing pad.  I’m looking at you Bojangles and Waffle House.  But Henry got to enjoy plenty of other al fresco changing venues.  Parks, rest areas, the National Mall.

I guess my tumblr would now be “places my sons’ junk has been.”  The trend is definitely continuing in Rome.  We’ve been hearing from people, guidebooks, the internets, etc. that Rome is not the most kid-friendly.  This doesn’t just mean a lack of sights for kids.  I’ve mentioned before that the double stroller is a challenge.  Whenever we get around to attempting public transit, that will be a challenge.  And I haven’t been able to find a restroom for me most places, much less a changing table.  (Just realized we will have to be WAY more strategic whenever Operation Potty Train commences.  Although I did see a kid drop trou at the Villa Borghese playground.  #OPTIONS.)

So this week’s “places my sons’ junk has been” is brought to you by Piazza della Repubblica.  Last weekend we went on another epic walkabout around the city.  Unlike last time, we ditched the double stroller at home.  I loaded Mac into the Lillebaby.  Thankfully, James is still able to wrangle Henry in the Deuter hiking pack.  And Henry did an impressive amount of walking.  Which would you choose: carrying a 16 lb child all the time or a 30 lb child half the time?  I’m stuck with the smaller one because I couldn’t even wear Henry in the Deuter 10 lbs ago.

Adventure ho!

Adventure ho!

It was glorious!  We could walk anywhere!!  Up church steps, in between cars, around tourists!  The city was our oyster; we were limited only by our aching backs.  The weather was also gorgeous.  I think around 70 degrees when we set out and creeping up during the day.

Although I was eager to get to proper sightseeing, I was also eager to have my first cappuccino in Italy.  Only took three weeks.  We stopped at a Bar, where I made James order.  I still do a double take on the signs sometimes, but Bars are the casual places with pastries and sandwiches that are open early.  Loved the cappuccino.  Henry loved the pastries even more.

They sprinkled chocolate on top!

They sprinkled chocolate on top!

Mmmm...nutella croissant

Mmmm…nutella croissant

Our first stop was Santa Maria della Vittoria Church.  We went for Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa, which was on my radar from Angels and Demons (on sale for kindle!)–classy, I know–but were really impressed with the church itself.  [Angels and Demons is now a movie?  From 2009?? How did I miss this?  This was pre-kids.  I have no excuse.]  It was on the smaller side, but every inch was covered with marble, paintings, mosaics, and other precious objects.  I’d love to go back for mass; you just know it would be an intimate affair.  Hopefully without Nic Cage-haired Tom Hanks crashing in to catch a maniac.

Outside of Santa Maria della Vittoria and Moses Fountain

Outside of Santa Maria della Vittoria and Moses Fountain

9.13_vittorio ceiling 9.13_vittorio

Bernini’s statue was very impressive.  The literature said he made the marble look like wax, which really is a good description.  So fluid.  So much movement.  I think I like Bernini even more than Michelangelo.  TV Show Idea:  Italian Sculptor Wars.  No?


The Church of Santa Susanna is across the street.  There has been construction so we ogled the outside but didn’t go in.  This is home of the American Catholic Church in Rome so I’m sure we’ll be back.  Santa Susanna’s exterior boasts “a highly influential early Baroque design” and some pretty amazing FAQs on its website.

1. What is the Pope’s email address?

Everyone wants to talk directly to the pope. Unfortunately the population of the world is now over 6 billion people and the Holy Father is not capable of speaking to each person privately.Though Pope Benedict had an email address, so far Pope Francis has not listed his.

Santa Susanna

Santa Susanna

We headed down to Piazza della Repubblica, close to Termini train station.

Junk exposure took place over my left shoulder

Junk exposure took place over my left shoulder

But before the titular diaper change, we went to the Baths of Diocletian.  The baths were built between 298 and 306They have many other uses now–Michelangelo designed a church inside–but you can still see the exterior and infrastructure.  At the tallest point, they are seven stories high.

According to Wikipedia, the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History building was partially based on design elements from the Baths of Diocletian

According to Wikipedia, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History building was partially based on design elements from the Baths of Diocletian.  I can see it.

Typical state of affairs around here

Typical state of affairs around here

Google auto-awesomed this one.  I kind of love it.

Google auto-awesomed this one. I kind of love it.

9.13_baths inside 2

Lots of trompe l'oeil in here.  Can you tell the bit to the left is just painted on?

Lots of trompe l’oeil in here. Can you tell the bit to the left (green columns) is just painted on?

We got to enjoy a few minutes of an organ concert inside the church.  Henry was enthralled.

I counted more than 70 stops on this bad boy.

I counted more than 70 stops on this bad boy.

After the diaper change, we picked up takeout pizza from Alice (Ah-lee-che), a delicious pizza chain here.  We enjoyed it in the Villa Borghese Park to the sound of a dude playing the mandolin.

Alice selfie

Alice selfie

Both kids crashed before we could make it back for official nap time, but it was a pretty nice day.

Ball so hard

Ball so hard

James put together this map ex post facto of our route.  I think it was only around three miles, but it felt longer.  I blame the toddler stop and go.  It isn’t just “mas running,” but you have to frequently reline up at the starting line.

Will try to update this when I find a way to make it look better

Will try to update this when I find a way to make it look better.  Blogger fail.

I can’t believe they didn’t mention church

[Hi new readers!  Just wanted to say thanks so much for your support and notes.  It really means a lot!]

Modern Mrs. Darcy linked to an article in the Boston Globe on What Age Segregation Does to America.  I thought it was a fascinating read.  The gist is that we are even less frequently interacting with other generations.  (Except Kentucky and West Virginia apparently; check out that map.)

Grown-ups return to work, where they’ll toil alongside other working-age people. Children go back to their schools, neatly separated by grade. Millions of young adults will pack their bags for college, where they’ll live and work almost exclusively with their exact peers.

And with more seniors retiring to age-segregated retirement communities (does anyone else get the theme for The Villages stuck in their head?), the issue is exacerbated.  This is problematic because generations aren’t benefiting from the wisdom of others and it contributes to the “kids these days” and “those old fogeys” attitudes.

This makes sense.  But it hasn’t been my experience.  Except on the Hill where I think the median age was 27, my workplaces have been very age integrated.  At my old law firms, you had everyone from paralegals and new lawyers in their 20s all the way up to the guys wheeling around oxygen tanks.  I used to work with someone who had been a partner longer than I’ve been alive.  Not a lawyer longer than I’ve been alive, an actual partner.

I read The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home recently.  (Not saying I’m planning to home school, but it could be on the table.  If you asked me even two years ago, I never would have said that.)  When addressing the “what about socialization?” question home schoolers inevitably get, the authors point out that there are lots of opportunities for socialization (family, activities/clubs, community things, religious) that more closely resemble real world scenarios.

[T]hink about the type of socialization that takes place in school.  The child learns how to function in a specific environment, one where he’s surrounded by thirty children his own age.  This is a very specific type of socialization, one that may not prove particularly useful.  When, during the course of his life, will he find himself in this kind of context?  Not in work or in family life or in his hobbies.  The classroom places the child in a peer-dominated situation that he’ll probably not experience again.

Growing up, my church was probably my most “age integrated” experience.  I knew my friends’ parents, my Sunday school teachers, my basketball coach.  Activities like choir and youth groups combined multiple grades.

I’m no expert, but church attendance has been declining, yes?  (This assertion is supported by a quick search on the internets.)  I know my anecdotal experience does not a trend make, but it seems that some others out there probably experienced something similar if church was in the mix.  I’m just surprised the article didn’t discuss or even mention it.  That’s all.