I THOUGHT Venice was my ticket for rest and relaxation, but things got off to a rocky start when I got dress-coded at a popular tourist spot.

Even though I thought I was covered up and made efforts to look appropriate, the security guard at the door didn't seem to agree.

I live in New York and had landed in Venice frazzled and disoriented, after losing my travel buddy to a missed flight on our way over from Paris.

Although she had managed to catch the first flight out the next morning, it meant I was scheduled to do all the sightseeing alone on that first day.

Don't get me wrong, I was fully capable of a little solo travel, excited even, for my inevitable Julia-Roberts-Eat-Pray-Love-esque montage, so I quickly set off to experience all that Venice had to offer.

My first activity of the day was a visit to St. Mark's Basilica, a cathedral dedicated to Saint Mark the Evangelist, which boasted spoils from the Crusades.

I packed light for the trip, bringing only a linen dress, two pairs of jeans, a few tops, and way too many accessories.

Seeing the warm weather that day, I'd opted to wear the dress.

As I stepped on the grounds of the tourist-packed St. Mark's Square, I found myself wondering why everyone seemed to be so covered up when it was a sweltering near-90 degrees out.

It took me far too long to realize the mistake I had made.

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I pulled up my mobile ticket and saw the dress code warning, which confirmed my suspicion that I was not, at the moment, dressed appropriately for the Basilica.

Venice was a small island but my hotel was still a good 30-minute walk away, with only 15 minutes left to spare on my entry time.

Thinking fast on my feet, I purchased a "Venezia" T-shirt that I knew I was never going to wear again from a stall for a couple of euros.

I threw the shirt over my dress, pulled my dress hem down lower, and got in line.

I thought I had narrowly dodged disaster — after all, what must have been my distracting shoulders, seductive collarbones, and provocative knees were all covered.

One look from the security guard at the front of the line and I immediately felt like I was walking around with a giant Scarlet Letter on the front of my cheap shirt.

The man stopped me and mumbled something in Italian.

I didn't need Google Translate to know he was saying a few choice words about my character and/or taste in fashion.

He jutted out his chin in my direction, prompting me to share an incredulous look with the 2,000 other fellow Americans on line.

He can't be serious, I thought.

Where am I, an American public school? The Duggars' house?

Who does this guy think he is? The modesty police? Warren Jeffs? My mother?

I begrudgingly pulled my dress down further, waiting for his nod of approval.

It didn't come.

Instead, he stared pointedly, giving me a very, very, dramatic sigh as if my exposed knees somehow singlehandedly murdered his wife and two kids.

Who does this guy think he is? The modesty police? Warren Jeffs? My mother?

I returned an equally dramatic sigh — why dish it if he couldn't take it? — and pulled the dress impossibly lower, mentally daring him to say something, anything, again.

He stared long and hard at my half-exposed kneecaps, the way I stared at the freshly baked cookies in the window of my neighborhood bakery.

"C'MON, man!" I wanted to scream. "My boobs are like, totally out under this shirt!"

After what felt like a decade, he relented.

With yet another dramatic sigh, he waved the white flag and I cheered, triumphant in my victory against… well, I'm not exactly sure.

Misogyny? Outdated customs that I paid seven euros to be subjected to?



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While inside, I was aware that I should've been more stunned by the flashy, in-your-face golden architecture of the basilica or charmed by the priest who delivered the afternoon sermon.

I took a singular photo of the gaudy church to commemorate the experience, hoping the rest of my trip wouldn't be a continuation of something out of The Handmaid's Tale.

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