The 7 Best Places to Live in Italy
Italy is a paradise.
The country with the most UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world continues to add to a rich cultural history that includes top-quality food, fashion, football, art, cars, coffee, opera, architecture, and wine.
Italians achieve all of this without breaking a sweat, except on one of the more than 25,000 beaches that grace this sunny nation on the Mediterranean.
And you won’t be alone as an expat. After all, there are more than 65,000 Brits enjoying life in gorgeous Italy (United Nations, 2019).
You deserve to find a home that reflects Italy’s incredible history, but with 20 regions and 7,903 neighbourhoods to choose from, it’s not easy (Italian National Institute of Statistics, 2020). Don’t worry, though – we’re here to help.
Whether you want an area with the best culture, the best food, or the best chance of finding a bargain property, we’ve got you covered – from Abruzzo to Veneto.
The best neighbourhoods in Italy for cheap property
In general, the price of an Italian property is based on these three principles:
- How close it is to the coast
- Whether it’s in the north (more expensive) or the south (cheaper)
- Whether it’s in a more rural (cheaper) or urban area (more expensive)
There are many exceptions to this rule, but it’s an excellent starting point for finding a home that doesn’t break the bank.
Far from the coast? Check. Located in the less expensive south? Check. You can even buy a home on the outskirts of Campobasso, and achieve a perfect score on the requirements listed above.
Don’t worry, though: Molise’s main city may tick all the boxes for cheap properties, but like most places in Italy, it’s still stunning.
You get to live in a city with plenty of museums, castles, and – of course – restaurants worth visiting, and still be surrounded by enough mountains, parks, and gardens for a lifetime’s worth of exploration.
If you like houses with unbelievable views, enough space and rooms for multiple families, and the low cost of around €50,000 (£42,000), Campobasso might be the place for you.
Reggio Calabria, Calabria
If you want to settle down in an attractive seaside home but have balked at some of the prices you’ve seen, then consider the country’s southern tip – the toe of the boot, if you will.
In the middle of the Mediterranean – which itself means ‘middle land’ – sits Calabria’s biggest city, where you can find coastal houses with five, six, or seven bedrooms and more than 200m² of space for well under €100,000 (£85,000).
You can enjoy the city’s glorious beaches and the gigantic, unspoiled Aspromonte National Park – which contains wolves, eagles, and stunning hiking trails – as well as the impressive National Archaeological Museum.
This building houses Greek and Roman treasures including the Riace Bronzes, a pair of life-sized Greek statues that were lost in the Ionian Sea for more than 2,000 years, before being randomly discovered by a diver in 1972.
For more information, check out this handy guide to the cost of buying a house in Italy.
Abruzzo contains nine national parks and nature reserves – and some gorgeous wine
The best neighbourhood in Italy for green spaces
In the middle of the country, just to the east of Rome, lies the criminally underrated region of Abruzzo.
This utopia of greenery boasts a frankly ridiculous nine national parks and nature reserves, so you’ll never run out of green spaces – but they’re not just green; they’re breathtaking.
Go hiking, rock climbing, horse riding, or even skiing, and you’ll see what we mean. Climb high enough anywhere in Abruzzo, and you’ll be greeted by the sight of a lovely lake or a natural spring – or even both.
Abruzzo is also famous for its wine, its olive oil production, its 200-year history of making spaghetti alla chitarra, and – because it’s pretty much compulsory for an Italian region – its beaches.
The best neighbourhood in Italy for culture
This wonderful, central area of Rome is flush with cultural attractions, from the famous Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain to its many high-fashion stores.
You can gaze at the marble creations and historic architecture – while enjoying the mouthwatering local food – on your way to the awe-inspiring Basilica di Santa Maria del Popolo.
This 900-year-old church features classic works of art from the likes of Caravaggio and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, as well as a chapel designed by Raphael.
And if you ever want to explore further afield, the whole of Rome – including the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Vatican – is right on your doorstep.
The best neighbourhood in Italy for food
If you ever want to feel like you’re trovarsi tra l'incudine e il martello (between the hammer and the anvil), try picking the best place in Italy for food.
Our best advice: go to Rome for pasta, Naples for pizza and deep-fried seafood, Milan for veal and risotto, Florence for steak, Liguria for pesto and focaccia, and Parma for the city’s world-famous ham.
But despite the culinary riches on offer in literally any Italian area, you should still choose Quadrilatero above all others.
This small neighbourhood in the northern city of Bologna hosts the nation’s oldest market, which serves up fresh fish, meat, and cheese. Grab some delectable fare and then head to Osteria del Sole, in the centre of town.
Ever since it opened in 1465, this historic tavern has provided locals with a place to eat your own food alongside a wonderful selection of wines and a great atmosphere.
Next, take advantage of the fact that you’re living in the birthplace of tortellini and tortelloni – not to mention tagliatelle with ragu – and in an area with such an excellent ice-cream making pedigree that it’s home to a Gelato University.
All of that food will leave you feeling pieno come un uovo (as full as an egg). Wash it down with a fizzy red wine called lambrusco, and then start over again tomorrow. Sheer bliss.
The birthplace of tortellini does it better than anywhere else
The best neighbourhood in Italy for nightlife
When it comes to Italian nightlife, Milan is – and has – everything.
Those seeking exclusivity and the odd celebrity sighting will love Corso Sempione and Corso Como. Fans of a more chilled-out night should soak in the camaraderie at Colonne di San Lorenzo, while lovers of art and sophistication should head to Piazza Duomo.
That said, Navigli tops them all.
This former industrial area, which is named after its canals, has taken on an artistic, bohemian vibe in recent years, and you should take full advantage of the exciting venues that have sprung up as a result.
Head to Trattoria Madonnina for some authentic local cooking, or dine at the pricier Sadler – which has earned a Michelin star thanks to chef Claudio Sadler’s beautiful creations – before making your way to Ugo and Rita, two fantastic cocktail bars with plenty of atmosphere.
Ready for some entertainment? You’ll dance your socks off at Nidaba Theatre – where patrons enjoy live blues, country, folk, and rock music every night – and Pinch, where live music is offered alongside an ever-changing drinks menu.
The best neighbourhood in Italy for schools
Tuscany’s capital is the best place for junior expats to get an excellent education, from kindergarten all the way through to graduation.
Send your littlest ones to the excellent Bilingual School, which has helped develop the area’s foreign children since 1973, before choosing from a series of high-quality options for further education.
Your prospective scholar can learn the top-notch Canadian curriculum at the Canadian School, absorb three languages at the Lycée Francais Victor Hugo, or go to the globally recognised International School, which is attended by students of 44 different nationalities.
Finding a place to live in Italy
By now, you should have an excellent idea of where you’d like to live when you move to beautiful Italy. That’s a huge step.
The next part is finding a home in the right neighbourhood and securing it.
That’s where PerchPeek can help. PerchPeek can provide you with specialists who know the local area, and are happy to talk any time of day.
They’ll help find you a place, get you a viewing, sort out the paperwork, and get you settled in.
Just pop your details in this short form to sign up for a free phone consultation.