Expats in Italy are being reminded that strict dress codes are being stringently enforced with many popular sites refusing entry to those deemed to be wearing less than suitable attire.

Top of the list is St Peter’s Square in Rome where a new dress code has been introduced by the Vatican City. Some visitors turning up with bare shoulders and legs are being turned away.

It is not just tourists who are being caught out. Expats are not aware of the rules and even locals just popping out to Vatican City for a newspaper or loaf of bread are being caught out by the new rules.

Men visiting Vatican City this summer must wear T shirts and shirts with sleeves and long trousers, while women should have their shoulders covered and wear a skirt that falls below the knee. Under the rules skimpy tops, shorts and mini dresses are not permitted and similar rules apply to churches and other religious establishments and even some museums in popular places such as Florence and Venice.

‘This is the Vatican City and for reasons of respect, you are not allowed in with uncovered shoulders or wearing shorts,’ Swiss Guard officers are telling people as they pull them aside for showing too much skin.

‘St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City has always had a strict dress code in place but this now seems to have been extended to visitors to the Square itself, which is a favourite meeting spot for locals and tourists alike,’ says Sarah Findlay, online marketing manager for insurewithease.com.

‘The new rules could catch a lot of people out with stories of some being forced to buy over priced long trousers and cover ups in local shops,’ she added.

Although dress codes are more common in the Middle East and Turkey they are also found in places like Malaysia and Thailand. Some churches in France also ban shorts and vest tops.