From cosmopolitan cities to quaint lake towns, Italy has plenty to offer prospective expats.

<p>Alexander Spatari/Getty Images</p>

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

While Italy is one of the most popular European countries to visit, it’s also a fantastic destination to call home. With a wealth of historic and cultural landmarks (including a whopping 58 UNESCO World Heritage Sites), picture-perfect small towns, cosmopolitan cities, gorgeous beaches, towering mountains, and world-famous cuisine, the Bel Paese is a dream for expats seeking top-notch recreation.

But Italy also offers a fantastic quality of life. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, only three percent of Italian employees complain of working long hours — much less than the average 10 percent worldwide. Italians also enjoy better life expectancy (84 years), higher civic engagement, and low crime rates.

So, if you’re considering making a move, here are eight of the best places to live Italy.


<p>Buena Vista Images/Getty Images</p>

Buena Vista Images/Getty Images

A fashion and design hot spot, Milan is Italy’s creative and economic heart. The city perfectly balances its modern spirit with its ancient past, catering to artists, entrepreneurs, and global companies.

Milan is also at the forefront of sustainability. “There is now a great focus on the environment, with energy-saving buildings, as well as car, scooter, and bike-sharing services to reduce traffic,” Benedetta Viganò, owner and CEO of Giorgio Viganò Real Estate, told Travel + Leisure. “Depressed areas of the past are now some of the most vibrant places to buy a home, and you can still find that neighborhood quality of life with little shops and restaurants, new green spaces, and good schools.”

Thanks to the expansion of its metro system, with two new lines and three major airports nearby, Milan is a transportation hub, easily reachable from anywhere in Europe or the world.


<p>Alexander Spatari/Getty Images</p>

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

The culinary capital of Italy was recently ranked first in the annual quality of life survey from Il Sole 24 Ore. Stretching from the Apennine Mountains to the Po Valley, Bologna enjoys warm and sunny weather most of the year.

The capital of the Emilia-Romagna province also scores high in the report’s wealth and business, safety, and public health and demographics categories.

Last year, Bologna’s iconic arched arcades, which date back to the 13th century, were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list. La Grassa, as Bologna is known for its culinary traditions, is also Europe’s oldest university town, with the University of Bologna ranking 161 worldwide for the quality of its education.


<p>saiko3p/Getty Images</p>

If cool mountain breezes, alpine scenery (including the breathtaking Dolomites), and a unique mix of Italian and Austrian cultures sound like the perfect place to live, then Bolzano should be at the top of your list. As the capital of South Tyrol, close to Austria and Switzerland, this city with a population of more than half a million offers the third best standard of living in Italy. With the highest employment rate in the country, Bolzano residents profit from high levels of disposable income and savings.

“Thanks to the good economy and excellent living conditions, the population has grown steadily over the last 70 years. The real estate market is very stable and has grown continuously along with the region’s economy and the development of its infrastructure,” Alexander Benedetti, a broker at Benedetti Real Service, shared with T+L.

He explained that the local real estate market is strongly regulated, with about 80 percent of properties subject to “a commitment that they are occupied by someone who is working in South Tyrol or has been resident here for at least five years.” Benedetti noted that this law positively impacts the local economy and social life since properties are used as primary residences, and local services remain stable and reliable year-round.


<p>Eloi_Omella/Getty Images</p>

Tuscany’s crown jewel and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence, feels like an open-air museum. Even residents can’t get enough of its endless beauty, including the iconic Piazza del Duomo, centuries-old Ponte Vecchio, romantic Arno River, and countless world-class museums and galleries that transform the city into an art hub. Florentines are also a short drive from some of the most heart-stopping views of Tuscany’s rolling hills.

“In the countryside outside the city of Florence, we reach the Chianti hills, the land of Chianti Classico, which is perfect to pair with a Fiorentina steak, or perhaps a homemade plate of tagliatelle,” Danilo Romolini, sales manager at Romolini Immobiliare — Christie’s International Real Estate, told T+L.

He added that prospective residents have plenty of choices when it comes to their future home, from charming pied-à-terre units and centuries-old frescoed apartments to grand palazzos and Renaissance mansions.

Florence ranks third in the quality of life report from Il Sole 24 Ore and is the winner in the culture and leisure category overall.


<p>Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images</p>

Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

If island life agrees with you, consider Olbia, one of Sardinia’s largest towns. As one of only five Blue Zones in the world, residents of this Mediterranean island live long and healthy lives that they get to spend soaking up vitamin D along Olbia’s picture-perfect coastline.

“The citizens of Olbia furthermore have access to two new hospitals: Giovanni Paolo II and Mater Olbia. The lively main street called Il Corso di Olbia hosts countless events and entertainment all year and offers a nice variety of restaurants with good food and trendy clubs,” Maura Manconi, a broker with Maior Capital, explained.

Plus, with an airport and a port, the town is easily reachable from mainland Italy, along with international destinations. However, Manconi added that while real estate in Olbia is still affordable, prices are steadily growing. In December 2022, the average price per square meter in Olbia was €3,168, about seven percent higher than in December 2021, according to the Italian real estate website


<p>Nick Brundle Photography/Getty Images</p>

Nick Brundle Photography/Getty Images

Dubbed the “pearl of Lake Maggiore,” Stresa is the ideal home base for those seeking stress-free, resort-style living with stunning lake and mountain vistas.

This elegant town, on the western shore of the lake in the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, is only an hour away from bustling Milan.

As the gateway to the Borromean Islands and home to many stately villas, art nouveau palaces, and a lakeside promenade, Stresa is a popular tourist destination, but manages to preserve its quaint and sophisticated lifestyle, with most of the entertainment and nightlife focused in its old town.

In December 2022, prices reached almost €3,000 per square meter, while rental properties were available for €9.13 per square meter. (In other wrods, an 800-square-foot apartment would cost about $730 per month.)


<p>Peter Zelei Images/Getty Images</p>

Peter Zelei Images/Getty Images

“Siena is a fascinating place to live in — boasting all the beauty of a historic town, but with the comforts and amenities of city life, and without the chaos of larger urban areas. Here, there’s a real sense of place,” Rosalba Sale, real estate agent at Tamagnini Luxury Estate, told T+L.

This medieval city in the heart of Tuscany has a historic downtown area that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and offers proximity to some of Italy’s most notorious wine regions. As the home of one of Europe’s oldest universities, Siena profits from an influx of Italian and international students adding to the city’s dynamic entertainment scene.

This year, Siena claimed the number four spot in Il Sole 24 Ore‘s survey, ranking high in categories such as raising children and health care.


<p>Alexander Spatari/Getty Images</p>

Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

While the Eternal City dropped 18 spots to number 31 in Il Sole 24 Ore‘s quality of life report, Rome still ranks among the top cities in Italy for employment and business, demographics, and health.

Its residents enjoy a bustling cultural life, incredible dining (including many Michelin-starred restaurants), excellent public transportation, and a reasonable cost of living, especially compared to other big European capitals such as Paris, Berlin, and London.

“In every corner of Rome, a small treasure is ready to sweep you off your feet, from small churches hidden at the ends of the narrowest streets to frescoes painted on random walls scattered across town to the characteristic alleys of the dolce vita,” Giulia Frosi, a broker at La Commerciale, shared with T+L.

And while real estate prices have been steadily dropping for the past seven years, living in Rome will certainly cost you, with properties in the city’s historic district selling for €7,369 per square meter, according to data for December 2022. Rents, too, have increased since 2021 — almost 13 percent to €24.21 per month per square meter (or about $2,000 for an 800-square-foot apartment).

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