Thinking of moving to Italy? Identifying the ideal spot to call home can be a tough task. We’ve taken a look across the country to find the best places to live in Italy in 2021.
Italy is a wonderfully varied country in its lifestyle and environment. The Italian experience you get in the north is almost incomparable to the south.
From mountain towns to fishing villages, historical cities to beach resorts, we’ve left no stone unturned to find the best of the bunch.
Best places to live in Italy for expats
There are many reasons why you might want to call Italy home – and the country is happy to cater for them all. We’ve had a look at some of the locations and picked out a handful that might be new to you. Nevertheless, we’re hopeful they’ll still tick your boxes.
Situated in the northwest of Italy, Brescia is perfect for keeping you busy. The city is alive and kicking with an abundance of shops, boutiques, clubs, bars and cafes.
Get used to drinking a Pirlo before dinner – and no this isn’t the Italian footballer. It’s not a spritz either and, despite being very similar, the locals won’t take too kindly to you calling it one.
The ‘Leonessa d’Italia’ (Lioness of Italy) also has fantastic transport links. You can get to major cities in Italy and across Europe in a matter of hours.
Brescia sits close to the Alps and is surrounded by beautiful lakes; the cold winters and hot summers mean you can make the most of both.
Liguria is a must for Italian-bound expats wanting to stay warm and cosy. The region experiences its own microclimate as the tall mountains to the north trap the toasty temperatures carried in by the sea in the south.
Its most famous areas are probably Portofino and Genoa. Portofino is certainly on the expensive side – and with good reason. The picturesque fishing village oozes luxury in a charming Italian way.
Genoa is smothered in history and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006. It’s dotted with bars and restaurants serving a range of Italian beer and wine. Genoa is also the birthplace of pesto and a pioneer of focaccia, so brace yourself for some seriously tasty food.
Nestled in the Dolomites, Trento is a relatively unknown cosmopolitan city. It boasts a very high quality of life thanks to a top-notch education system, excellent healthcare and stunning natural beauty.
Despite its postcard-worthy scenery, Trento isn’t as expat-heavy as other Italian cities. It doesn’t have an airport of its own, but it’s by no means detached. You can get a train to Verona in an hour and Milan will take you three.
Trento’s urban lifestyle is quieter than its counterparts. It has a large student population, but the nightlife is almost non-existent. The city does, however, satisfy expats looking for a more relaxed and calm way of life.
Best cities to live in Italy
There are hundreds of cities to live in in Italy. And while they share a lot of similar qualities (top-tier food and wine is pretty much mandatory), they have plenty of differences too. We’ve plucked out a few of the best.
The proud capital of Sardinia, Cagliari is a sunny city on the south coast of the island. It’s quite affordable compared to similar Italian cities: almost 55% cheaper for rent and around 8% less expensive for groceries than Milan.
Despite being an island city, Cagliari is booming with cinemas and theatres, shops and supermarkets, bars and restaurants, and plenty of other amenities to keep things interesting.
You can get around easily with public transport. Buses, trains and trams run through the city and suburbs. The airport is only a short journey away as is the beach.
Although there’s plenty to do, the general atmosphere is serene in Cagliari. If you’re after the hustle and bustle of big city life, it might be for you.
In almost complete contrast to Cagliari, Milan is the top dog for urban fans. The city in Italy’s north is big and busy and home to some of the world’s most lucrative fashion brands.
It’s known as Italy’s commercial centre. People here get stuck into their work, making Milan a driving force in industries like design, finance, information technology and textiles.
Moving its professionalism to one side, Milan is packed with entertainment, art, culture and history. Additionally, the food here is superb with a diverse selection of restaurants. Expect flawless Italian cuisine as well as tastes and flavours from all over the world.
Getting around is easy too. Most people prefer to walk, cycle or take public transport to explore the city centre. It’ll only cost you a little over €30 for a monthly public transport pass – almost 80% cheaper than London.
The tussle for Tuscany’s top spot was an intense one – but Pisa might just be number one. Although Florence has an abundance of reasons to call it home, Pisa comes out trumps for cost of living.
Buying and renting property in Pisa is considerably cheaper than in Florence; it’ll also cost you less for a meal out. Transport is more affordable as well and you can easily get to Tuscany’s largest airport: Galileo Galilei Airport.
You’ll notice a slightly wonky tower attracting a lot of tourists, but Pisa’s architecture is far more than a one-trick pony. The city is filled with historic churches, medieval palaces, museums and theatres.
There’s plenty going on in the realm of nightlife and more than just your typical disco clubs. When the sun goes down in Pisa, residents head out to jazz clubs, classy cocktail bars and music venues.
Lake Como: the best place to retire in Italy
For tranquillity and scenery at its very best, look no further than Lake Como. The slower pace of life here makes it a haven for retirees. And if you did fancy an action-packed night out, Milan is only a short train journey away.
The giant 146 km² lake is surrounded by small, pretty towns: the most popular being Colico, Lecco and Como. Como City is also becoming a hotspot for retirees.
If you did fancy venturing out, the train connections to major northern Italian cities are good and you can get to Switzerland easily as well.
Lake Como may well be the best place in Europe for active expats who love a walk. Como offers an excellent combination of quaint town aesthetics with a stunning promenade wrapping around the lake. You’re close to the mountains too, so bring your walking boots for an irresistible alpine hike.
Bologna: the best place to live in Italy for young adults
Home to around 400,000 people (80,000 of which are students), Bologna is a diverse city full of life. There’s always something going on, so expect to be handed flyers to all kinds of entertainment events whenever you pop into the centre.
The city is passionate about promoting free culture as a social good. Every year when the weather turns warmer, the city square transforms into a giant open-air cinema. There’s no need to book or pay for anything – just turn up and take a seat. The cinema projects cult classics, Hollywood blockbusters, current big-hitters and low-budget documentaries.
Bologna is well within its right to consider itself one of the best food cities in Italy. It’s the home of one of the most famous Italian dishes, known by practically everyone in the world: tagliatelle al ragu. Unsure? It’s heinously referred to as spaghetti Bolognese in the English-speaking world.
But putting that to one side, Bolognesi residents tuck into a range of fabulous food. For young people looking to grab something cheap and quick in the city, try a piadina or tigelle. A piadina is basically an Italian flatbread sandwich originating from Romagna, while a tigelle is a round bread sandwich more native to Bologna.
Catania: the best place to live in Sicily
Wrapped up in a Mediterranean blanket, the Italian island of Sicily is a favourite for tourists and expats alike. And of all the places to live in Sicily, Catania is probably the best.
The versatility of this Sicilian city makes it a winner. All in the same day you can glide down the ski slopes of Mt Etna and kick back on the golden shores of La Playa. And if being active is your thing, Catania is the place for you.
As well as skiing, hiking and swimming are popular activities among residents. The Alcantara Gorges at the foot of Mt Etna are a must-see, and a fantastic place for a long walk and quick dip.
The city itself is known for its buzzing nightlife and incredible food scene. Expect to find plenty of theatres and nightclubs open throughout the year and special performances at the Greek theatre of Taormina in the summer.
The outstanding food in Catania is credited to the combination of hot sun and fertile volcanic soil giving its fruit and vegetables an intense, unique flavour. And if you’re a fan of seafood, the fish market near the Cathedral of Catania is a must.
Catania is easily accessible thanks to its airport and is becoming more open to foreign employment – good news if you’re moving to Sicily for work. The downside, however, is that you’ll definitely need to speak some Italian.
Send money to Italy
Exchanging familiar surroundings for unfamiliar ones can be a daunting prospect. And exchanging your money for foreign currency is no different.
As foreign currency specialists, we can help you send money to Italy, whether it’s for buying property there, moving your pension or transferring funds to an Italian bank account.
What’s more, our industry-leading exchange rates mean you get more bang for your buck. You’ll also be guided through the process by a Currency Specialist. They will learn about your requirements and offer solutions on how to keep your money at minimal risk from market fluctuations.
If you’re interested, book a free chat with a Privalgo Currency Specialist and see what we can do for you.Book a chat with a Currency Specialist