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The Top 20 Best Places To Live In Italy

Deciding on the best places to live in Italy? Our concise guide highlights the top 20 spots that blend lifestyle with affordability and culture. From costs to cuisine, you’ll get the straightforward details you need to pinpoint your ideal Italian home.

Key Takeaways

  • Italy offers diverse living options across 20 cities, catering to various lifestyles including fashion lovers in Milan, history enthusiasts in Rome, and culinary aficionados in Bologna.
  • The quality of life in these cities is often balanced between their cultural heritage, cost of living, and modern amenities, with Rome and Milan noted for their higher living expenses but rich cultural scenes.
  • Unique regional attributes define each location, such as Venice’s canals, Florence’s Renaissance architecture, and the blend of Italian and Austrian cultures in Bolzano, offering expats and locals distinctive living experiences.

Discovering Italy’s Top 20 Cities for Quality of Life

We’ve curated a list of the top 20 cities in Italy, offering high-quality life based on various factors such as cultural heritage, cost of living, and availability of fresh food. These cities cater to diverse preferences, whether you’re an art enthusiast, a foodie, a fashion devotee, or a history buff.

Join us as we explore these Italian treasures.

1. Milan: The Fashionable Metropolis

Known as the fashion capital of the world and often considered the best city for style enthusiasts, Milan is one of the major cities that combines the charm of its ancient past with a vibrant, modern spirit. The city offers a range of accommodation options, from affordable suburban homes to well-connected city center complexes. Its efficient public transport system and pedestrian-friendly initiatives make it easy to explore not only Milan but also other cities, including some popular cities nearby.

While Milan ranks among Italy’s most expensive cities, it compensates with a unique lifestyle marked by fashion-forward shopping experiences, bustling nightlife, and a harmonious blend of modern conveniences and historical charm. However, always remain vigilant against pickpockets, especially in crowded tourist areas such as the iconic Piazza del Duomo.

2. Rome: The Eternal City

Rich in history and culture, Rome offers world-famous sights such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Vatican. Living in Rome allows residents to immerse themselves in the city’s historical sites, beautiful churches, and vibrant city life. For a single person, monthly living expenses in Rome average around €1,800.

Grocery prices in Rome are around 10% cheaper than in Milan and 7% more expensive than in Florence, offering a reasonable cost for residents. A one-way public transport ticket in Rome, valid for 75 minutes, costs €1.50, while a regular monthly pass is €35. Dining out twice a month and lunch out twice a week can cost around €180.

3. Florence: Renaissance Beauty

Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is a gem of the Italian Renaissance. The city’s center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for landmarks like the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Palazzo Vecchio, signifying its global cultural significance and outstanding universal value. Alongside its rich history, Florence offers a thriving arts scene, with the Uffizi Gallery housing Renaissance masterpieces.

Florence offers:

  • A high standard of living, harmonizing cultural richness with elevated living standards
  • A picturesque setting and connectivity for travel, making it a convenient gateway to explore Tuscany and beyond
  • Despite its global appeal, Florence remains a small, easily navigable city
  • Amenities like gyms and childcare are available in English, catering to the international community

4. Venice: Serene Canals and Rich History

Venice, a city of serene canals and rich history offers a charming and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere in the city’s historic heart. Amidst its iconic water taxis and canals, the city celebrates its history through events like the famous Carnival and Biennale art exhibition. On the culinary side, the high-quality seafood and produce from the Rialto Market make dining a delightful experience.

Living in Venice, however, presents its challenges, such as frequent tourist influx, a relatively high cost of living, and the occasional ‘acqua alta’ or high water phenomena. Despite these challenges, the unique charm of Venice’s idyllic canals and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere make it one of Italy’s most enchanting cities to live in.

5. Naples: Vibrant Living in the Shadow of Vesuvius

Naples, the vibrant city located in the shadow of Vesuvius, offers a dynamic living experience. The city is renowned for its breathtaking churches, exceptional cuisine, and energetic atmosphere, making it a top-choice location to call home in Italy.

Whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins, enjoying the fantastic quality of local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant nightlife, there’s always something to do in Naples. The city’s rich history, combined with its modern amenities and lively ambience, offers residents a unique and vibrant lifestyle.

6. Bologna: The Culinary Capital

Home to the world-famous Bolognese sauce, Bologna is Italy’s culinary capital. The city has been ranked as the best place to live in Italy according to Il Sole 24 Ore’s annual Quality of Life Index 2024.

Bologna’s rich culinary scene offers residents an amazing food journey through its world-famous cuisine, including:

  • Traditional trattorias
  • Modern, fusion restaurants
  • Food markets, such as Mercato di Mezzo, provide a vast variety of fresh local produce, cheeses, and cured meats.

Besides its culinary appeal, Bologna is also known for its medieval architecture, vibrant piazzas, and well-preserved historical sites.

7. Turin: Piedmont’s Majestic Capital

Turin, the majestic capital of the Piedmont region, is known for its historical and cultural importance, prestigious museums, stunning architecture, and its rich chocolate and coffee culture.

Turin’s elegant city center, lined with grand boulevards and resplendent palaces, offers a high standard of living. The city is also the birthplace of Italy’s automotive industry, housing the headquarters of Fiat and Alfa Romeo. Whether you’re a history aficionado, a foodie, or a car enthusiast, Turin has something to offer everyone.

8. Verona: A Smaller City with Big Charm

Known for its association with Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Verona is a charming city with a UNESCO World Heritage Site center. The city’s ancient amphitheatre, Arena di Verona, is a testament to its Roman history and serves as a popular venue for operas and concerts.

Verona also boasts a vibrant nightlife with trendy clubs and bars attracting both locals and tourists. The city’s well-connected train station, Verona Porta Nuova, and Valerio Catullo Airport make it easily accessible from major Italian cities like Venice and Milan.

9. Palermo: Sicilian Culture and Cuisine

Palermo, the capital of Sicily, offers a vibrant mix of history and gastronomy. The city’s rich tapestry of history is evidenced by its well-preserved Roman ruins, which serve as significant attractions for expats and visitors alike.

Palermo’s culinary scene provides residents with a variety of dining experiences, ranging from traditional Sicilian eateries to contemporary restaurants, ensuring a fulfilling experience for food enthusiasts.

10. Siena: Tuscany’s Medieval Gem

Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, Siena is known for its medieval cityscape and the famous Palio horse race. The city combines its rich history with a dynamic entertainment scene, providing a unique lifestyle for its inhabitants.

Siena is admired for its high standard of living, harmonizing cultural richness with elevated living standards. It is also in proximity to renowned Tuscan wine regions, adding to the city’s charm.

11. Abruzzo: Tranquil Beauty on a Budget

Famed for its enchanting landscapes and peaceful beauty, Abruzzo provides a cost-effective lifestyle amidst tranquil surroundings. The region is home to national parks, hilltop towns, and beautiful beaches, providing residents with a variety of outdoor activities.

Despite being slightly off the beaten path, Abruzzo has a lot to offer. Whether you’re exploring the ancient ruins, hiking in the national parks, or relaxing on the beautiful beaches, life in Abruzzo is never dull.

12. Lecce: Baroque Splendor in Southern Italy

Lecce, known as the ‘Florence of the South,’ is a baroque splendour in southern Italy. The city’s historic center offers a serene backdrop that adds to the city’s laid-back atmosphere.

Living in Lecce offers residents a slower, more relaxed way of life supported by a warm Mediterranean climate. The city’s real estate market provides more value for money compared to the hotspots of Rome or Milan, making home ownership attainable for many.

13. Catania: Etna’s Urban Escape

Located on the east coast of Sicily at the foot of Mount Etna, Catania offers a unique blend of vibrant city life and natural beauty. Known as one of the cheapest places to live in Italy, Catania offers low-cost living options.

The city’s rich history, reflected in its baroque architecture and ancient Roman ruins, blends seamlessly with its modern amenities. Whether you prefer exploring historical sites, enjoying the vibrant nightlife, or hiking up Mount Etna, Catania offers a unique and affordable lifestyle.

14. Bolzano: Where Italian and Austrian Cultures Merge

Located in the South Tyrol region of northern Italy, Bolzano is a unique city where Italian and Austrian cultures merge. The city offers an exceptional quality of life with cool mountain breezes and enchanting alpine scenery, contributing to its high ranking in the Quality of Life Index.

Bolzano’s elevated position in the Quality of Life Index reflects its robust employment rates, backed by a thriving local economy. Whether you’re exploring the city’s historic center, hiking in the surrounding mountains, or indulging in the local culinary scene, Bolzano offers a unique blend of Italian and Austrian lifestyles.

15. Lake Como: Scenic Living for the Global Citizen

Famed for its awe-inspiring landscapes and peaceful ambience, Lake Como offers picturesque living for international dwellers. The area around the lake is dotted with picturesque towns and villas, offering a range of outdoor activities, including:

  • boat trips
  • swimming
  • hiking
  • water sports

From exploring the quaint lakeside towns and unwinding on the lake shores to partaking in a plethora of water sports, life at Lake Como continually captivates and motivates. The region offers a tranquil lifestyle that appeals to those seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

16. Cagliari: Sun-Kissed Island Life

Located on the southern tip of Sardinia, Cagliari offers a sun-kissed island life, a rich history, and a vibrant culinary scene. The city’s natural allure is underscored by its idyllic beaches, such as Poetto Beach, offering expats a picturesque setting for relaxation.

Residents can immerse themselves in the city’s history through its well-preserved Roman ruins and vibrant local culture. Cagliari’s culinary scene provides residents with a variety of dining experiences, ranging from traditional Sardinian eateries to contemporary restaurants, ensuring a fulfilling experience for food enthusiasts.

17. Bergamo: Historic Elegance Off the Beaten Path

Located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, Bergamo is a historic city off the beaten path. The city, co-honored as the Italian Capital of Culture for 2023, offers cultural richness and historic elegance.

Bergamo offers an authentic Italian experience with its:

  • Pristine medieval city center
  • Impressive architecture
  • Lively cultural scene
  • Historic sites
  • Local cuisine
  • Charming streets

It is a desirable destination for those in search of a more tranquil and beautiful city in Italy.

18. Padua: Academic Hub with Artistic Flair

Nestled in the Veneto region of northern Italy, Padua is a center for academia boasting an artistic touch. Home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, the University of Padua, the city maintains a long-standing academic tradition, making it a preferred destination for international students.

Beyond academia, Padua is celebrated for its art, epitomized by the frescoes of Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel. The city’s artistic vitality continues with multiple art galleries showcasing both historical pieces and contemporary works. With its rich cultural scene, Padua offers a serene atmosphere with spacious parks and pedestrian areas, providing residents with a high-quality urban life.

19. Trastevere: Rome’s Bohemian Heart

Situated on Rome’s west bank of the Tiber River, Trastevere is renowned for its bohemian allure. The neighbourhood’s cobblestone streets are lined with artistic expressions and bohemian energy, echoing the neighbourhood’s historical association with arts and culture.

The neighbourhood boasts a vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and eateries that come to life after sunset. Residents of Trastevere enjoy a strong sense of community, which is palpable in the close-knit relationships and frequent social interactions in public spaces. Despite being in the heart of Rome, Trastevere offers more affordable living options compared to other neighbourhoods in the city.

20. Parioli: Elegant Living in the Capital

Located in the northern part of Rome, Parioli is one of the city’s most prestigious and upscale neighbourhoods, offering residents an elegant place to live in the capital city. The district is known for its exclusive atmosphere, with well-maintained streets and a higher standard of living.

Parioli is home to an array of upscale residences, attracting those in pursuit of both luxury and comfort. Whether you’re taking a stroll in the neighbourhood’s tranquil green spaces or enjoying a gourmet meal at one of the many high-end restaurants, life in Parioli is all about elegance and comfort.

Summary

From the fashionable metropolis of Milan to the sun-kissed island life in Cagliari, Italy offers a diverse range of cities to call home. Each city’s unique charm, lifestyle options, cost of living, and specific attractions make it a contender for the top spots in terms of quality of life.

Whether you’re dreaming of living in a bustling urban center, a serene coastal town, or a historic city steeped in culture and history, Italy offers a city that’s just right for you.

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