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The Best Places to Live in Italy

Duomo of Bolzano Italy

Bolzano tops the list of best places to live in Italy. Which other cities made the top 10?

Florence, Rome, Venice – you already know the names of the cities you must add to your Italy travel itinerary. But, do you know which cities in Italy are the best places to live? Each year, the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore publishes the Italy Quality of Life Survey, which calculates factors such as employment, free time, air quality, and public services in order to determine which Italian city dwellers are faring the best.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the towns that made it into the top 10 are not tourist hot spots. Although, Siena took the #5 spot and Bologna entered the top 10 this year at #8. Also not surprising is that most of the towns are in northern Italy, which is traditionally healthier and wealthier than the south.

And where did Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, and Milan place? Of those five tourist hotspots, Florence was the highest, ranking at #16. Milan was next at #21. Rome #35. Venice #46. And Naples ranked dead last at #107 (the trash problem, perhaps?).

Are you thinking about retiring in Italy? Relocating to Italy? Getting a summer home in Italy? Perhaps you want to consider the cities listed in the latest quality of life survey.

Following are the top 10 Italian cities with the best quality of life:

1. Bolzano

2. Trento

3. Sondrio

4. Trieste

5. Siena

6. Aosta

7. Gorizia

8. Bologna

9. Oristano

10. Belluno

Photo © firing_tower

Rome’s New Archeology Czar

News outlets are reporting that the Italian government has appointed Guido Bertolaso, of Naples garbage crisis fame, to head a new effort to address the poor state of Rome’s archeological treasures. According to the International Herald Tribune, Bertolaso will be in charge of whipping into shape some of Rome’s most famous – but crumbling –  buildings, particularly those on the Palatine Hill (including Nero’s Golden House) and in Ostia Antica. The czar will only have until December 31 to set a plan into action, so it’s not sure how much will get done. On the other hand, after he was appointed to handle the trash problem in May 2008 the emergency was over by July. Good luck, Mr. Bertolaso!

Foreign Food Ban in Italy

Now I love Italian food as much as the next person. But, a ban on foreign food in some municipalities and regions is, in my opinion, a kind of gastronomic racism (as described by Italian chef Vittorio Castellani).

I learned of the foreign food ban in such towns as Lucca from the Hugging the Coast blog. There, Doug DuCap provides links to information about this food flap from the Chicago Sun Times and the Lega Nord, the Italian political party that is behind much of this.

It’s true, so much of Italian cuisine has been influenced from the outside. Just look at the cuisine of Liguria, largely influenced by traders from Asia and the Middle East who long ago docked in Genoa. Or consider the food of Sicily, which includes northern African cous cous as part of its repertoire.

I’m curious…I bet there are some great foreign restaurants in Italy as well as many celebrated “Italian” restaurants that find gastronomic inspiration from other countries. If you have any recommendations, please comment at the end of this post.

Catchall Catch-Up Post: More Articles About Italy

Here are just a few notable articles on Italy that I’ve come across in the past month or so. I need to get them off my plate, as it were, so I can move on to more tips, hotels, and news that has come my way…

One Fish, Two Fish – This article my Mimi Sheraton in the New Yorker looks at the origins of brodetto, a fish soup that is most prized in Abruzzo and Le Marche. This link is to an abstract, but if you have a New Yorker subscription you can plug in your account info and read it online (if you haven’t already).

Italy Against Itself – Another abstract, this article by regular Italy columnist Alexander Stille looks at recent politics in the country.

An Italy Variety Plate from – Last month, the food magazine had articles on Christmas pandoro from Verona and Chicken Liver Crostini from Central Italy. This month is Gourmet’s Italian-American issue, which explores recipes inspiration from Lucca to Lecce. Also, it seems that has a more searchable archive now. So, just go to their search engine, type in “Italy,” and you can find articles going all the way back to 1954!

Water World

The Tiber breaks its banks.

Flooding in Rome.

Talks of Italy and flooding usually make one think of Venice. While Venice has suffered – and flooded – because of the latest bout of heavy rain, it’s Rome and its Tiber River that weather watchers are concerned about now.

The New York Times has put together an interesting slide show of the flooding throughout Italy, with most pictures of Rome and Venice. And, going beyond the newsy reports of the flooding is Canada’s Globe and Mail report Eric Reguly with a personal dispatch from the Eternal City.

As I write this, it looks as if the flood warnings have been called off for Rome, thankfully avoiding another Florence 1966. But it will be interesting to see what the rain has damaged. Hopefully, there weren’t too many masterpieces hiding in basements…

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