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Vatican tourists told to maintain modesty during heatwave

With temperatures soaring, tempers are flaring as the Vatican's dress police turn back tourists in shorts and bare shoulders trying to get into St Peter's Basilica.

Vendors are reportedly doing a brisk business selling paper pants and shirts - turning St Peter's Square into an open-air changing room.

Enforcement of the Vatican dress code turns into a battle each summer, but the verbal skirmishes have been heightened this month because Rome is in the grips of a relentless heat wave.

For weeks, temperatures have reached into the high 30s and the thousands of tourists trudging the streets seem dressed more for a day at the beach - shorts, miniskirts, tank tops for both men and women.

The city's policemen have been out in force to assure tourists don't cool their feet in the Trevi Fountain and other landmarks.

At the Vatican, authorities have erected signs showing no one can enter the basilica with bare legs and bare shoulders. Guards - neatly dressed in shirts and ties - patrol the entrances.

Some tourists do come prepared, pulling out pants and shirts from their backpacks and changing in St. Peter's Square, often prompting whistles and cat calls from onlookers.


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