Aosta - Best Place to Live
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Friends and family often ask me two questions about Italy:

  1. How do I move to Italy?
  2. If I move to Italy, where should I live?

Neither question is easy to answer; options are complicated and choices are subjective. But the second question is slightly easier to answer thanks to the yearly Quality of Life Index from newspaper Il Sole 24.

Each year in mid-December, Il Sole 24 released its latest index, which ranks 110 Italian cities according to a number of factors including artistic patrimony, public transportation, availability and affordability of fresh food, and crime.

Aosta - Best Place to Live
Photo of Aosta from the Valle d’Aosta tourism office

This year, Il Sole added other considerations to its assessment of each city. “Greater attention has been paid to the current needs and problems of the community, including house prices, jobs for young people, ability to innovate, integration of foreigners, welfare services and civil participation.”

In my experience, foreigners who have the good fortune to move to Italy tend to opt for the main cities or they are tempted to live out an Under the Tuscan Sun fantasy by purchasing a fixer-upper villa in the countryside. But the latest Quality of Life Index (as all previous ones, to be sure) shows that there are so many more factors (and locations) to consider when moving to Italy.

Do you like snow? While Milan (#2), Florence (#6), and Rome (#13) figured in the top 20 of the 110-city list, the top honor went to Aosta, a town that sits in the shadow of the Alps.

In fact, many of the cities with the best quality of life are very under-the-radar for potential expats. These top cities are also typically located in the less sun-drenched north, known for its more orderly spaces and relatively lower crime rates.

The Top 20 best places to live in 2016-17, according to the latest quality of life index are:

  1. Aosta
  2. Milan
  3. Trento
  4. Belluno
  5. Sondrio
  6. Firenze (Florence)
  7. Bolzano
  8. Bologna
  9. Udine
  10. Trieste
  11. Siena
  12. Ravenna
  13. Roma
  14. Livorno
  15. Modena
  16. Verbano-Cusio-Ossola
  17. Pordenone
  18. Cuneo
  19. Gorizia
  20. Verona

The point of this post is to encourage those who are seriously considering a move to Italy to think outside the box and beyond the brand-name cities. Think about things like access to grocery stores, public transportation, how many bookstores are in town, green spaces, and comforts and values that are important to you.

If you don’t have family or work ties to a certain city, have a look at the index, paying attention not only to the current rankings but also to the movement over time. For example, Padova (#30 and a lovely city that I will write more about soon), moved up 21 spots in this year’s index. Torino (#35, and a city that really impressed me) moved up 20.

Visiting Italy and living in Italy are completely different things. Hopefully this post will serve as an initial checklist.

And if you’re not planning on a move to Italy but would like to travel more deeply, perhaps the quality of life index will clue you in to cities you’ve not yet considered. The mission of many a traveler to Italy is to find “the good life.” So why not visit cities where the living is good?

Good luck!

Check out the other Italy Roundtable posts on the topic of “Move”

Last updated on May 17th, 2023

Post first published on January 19, 2017

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