Where to Live

The best cities to live in Italy

Whether you’re looking for families, businesses, retirees, single people, or affordability, these are the best cities to move to in Italy.

cities in Italy

By Martina Di Gregorio

Updated 14-3-2024

With its majestic landscapes, vibrant culture, and unique customs, many internationals fall in love with Italy. The country offers a colorful way of life, from international metropolises in the Alps to small beach cities on the Mediterranean islands.

That said, finding out which city to live in is daunting. So, it’s important to think of your lifestyle and priorities, for example, are you starting a new family, do you want to enjoy a plethora of museums, or are you looking for a new job and a fresh start?

If you have been dreaming calling Italy your new home and don’t know where to start, here are some tips for finding the right city to move to:


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Best cities in Italy


With its historical monuments and architecture, bustling nightlife, and a sizeable international community, Rome (Roma) is at the top of the list. It is the largest city in Italy and the third most populous in the European Union (EU), with 4.22 million inhabitants in 2023.

Three young women chatting on a street in Rome
Rome (Photo: Cristina Gottardi/Unsplash)

The capital of Italy is located in the center of the country and is a popular stop for expats. The international community makes up 11% of Rome’s population. They tend to live in the neighborhoods of Trastevere and Centro Storico. These two neighborhoods are close to the city center and the Termini Train Station. They also attract many tourists and young people looking to enjoy Italian cuisine and the vibrant nightlife.

When talking about Rome, it would be amiss not to mention landmarks such as the Colosseum (Colosseo), the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), and Saint Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro). However, there is much more to the city. For example, it has multiple incredible museums and festivals, and big parades on public holidays like Festa della Repubblica (Italy’s national day).

Even though the city is seismic, it’s pedestrian-friendly to compensate for the lackluster public transport or to avoid the intense traffic jams during peak hours.

Although Rome is a capital city, it’s cheaper to live there than in other international hubs such as Milan (Milano), making it a primary destination for internationals looking to move to Italy. As it’s also close to the beach, you can easily reach Santa Marinella or Lido di Ostia by train for a day out.


Milan is the second largest city in Italy after the capital, and one of the biggest urban areas in the EU, based on its population (3.21 million in 2023). It follows Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, and London

Located in the region of Lombardy, this city is best known for its historical landscapes, cultural impact, and fashion. But Milan is also a hub for finance, technology, and architecture. 

The Italian fashion city awes everyone who steps foot in the heart of the town: Piazza Duomo (Cathedral Square). From there, you can discover all the gorgeous stores in the shopping arcade Vittorio Emanuele II (Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II), the Duomo Cathedral (Cattedrale del Duomo), the opera house (Teattro Alla Scala), and the medieval Sforza Castle (Il Castello Sforzesco). 

Women walks past a street artist in Milan
Milan (Photo: Nicola Marfisi/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

With yearly cultural events and festivals, Milan is one of the best cities in Italy for families, young entrepreneurs, and university students looking to expand their horizons. The QS World University Rankings (2022) rated Bocconi University sixth for Business and Management Studies. Milan also boasts many international schools.

The city is a central hub in Italy, well connected by train to Rome and Naples (Napoli) and internationally by plane with two airports (Milano Linate and Malpensa).

The only downside is the cost of living. Milan is the most expensive city in the country. For example, its rent is almost 20% more expensive than in Rome. Outlying areas (e.g., Varese and Monza) are more affordable, while an easy commute into the city.


Trento is located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region in northern Italy and sets itself apart from other Italian cities. German influences make it a diverse blend of culture, architecture, and food.

Known as the Silicon Valley of the Alps because of its impact on science, technology, finance, and politics, Trento provides multiple career opportunities.

This city can be an ideal choice for families as well. Residents enjoy a high quality of living, being prosperous and located in one of the wealthiest provinces. Still, on average, the rent is half of what you’ll pay in Rome and around 46% lower than in Milan

Although smaller than some of its Italian counterparts, the city boasts multiple landmarks. Examples of these include the:

The heart of the city is Piazza del Duomo with its multiple cafes and bars.


The capital of Piedmont, Torino, is located in the north of Italy. It is a historical city known for its Baroque architecture. Its showpiece is the Residence of the Royal House of Savoy, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) site.

Torino is a historical and cultural center, featuring gems like Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio). With 2.21 million inhabitants in 2023, the city bustles with energy. There are art galleries, gorgeous restaurants, opera houses, theaters, and much more to explore. Most notable would be the Mole Antonelliana, an iconic landmark.

The city also offers excellent education facilities with its Polytechnic and the University of Torino for those who wish to study abroad.

Skateboarders doing tricks in Torino
Torino (Photo: David Salamanca/Unsplash)

There are multiple great neighborhoods, including Quartiere Roma and Centro Storico, in the city center. For those looking for cheaper rent, Santa Rita is an ideal choice.

In 2022, the city hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. Torino also hosts the annual International Book Fair (Salone Internationale del Libro), one of the largest in Europe. For those looking to take a little break from eating gianduiotti (traditional chocolate), the French city of Nice is only a three-hour car ride away, and Milan is one hour by train.


This lively and busy coastal city is a serious contender for anyone looking for the urban lifestyle while still being close to beautiful beaches. Located on the Adriatic Sea coast and in the Abruzzo region, Pescara is bustling with energy. The old town and seafront are the centers of social life, with multiple bars and restaurants for people to meet and eat tasty fish dishes.

Many events are happening in Pescara, including the yearly international jazz festival – Pescara Jazz – and the film festival, Flaiano International Awards.

Some of the most famous landmarks are Ponte del Mare, a bridge connecting the river Pescara’s banks, Marina di Pescara Port, and Parco d’Avalos.

Overall the city provides multiple entertainment possibilities, such as sailing clubs, shopping centers, and cruises to Croatian Islands. Pescara is also close to the Abruzzo National Park, the largest nature reserve in Italy.

Apparently, it’s also an affordable city to live in. Some recommended areas include Quartiere Colli, Quartiere San Silvestro, and Centro Storico. Although it can be pricier, Centro Storico is the heart of the city with multiple summer festivities and is close to historical monuments, restaurants, and bars. It’s also a coveted student neighborhood, as the university is nearby.


Cagliari, also known as the City of Sun (Città del Sole), is the largest city on the Italian island of Sardinia (Sardegna), with over 421,000 residents (2023). Home to one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean sea, Cagliari is a cultural and historical hub. 

Skyline of Cagliari
Cagliari (Photo: Laura Lugaresi/Unsplash)

The Castello neighborhood is the center with some of the most well-known landmarks at the heart of the city:

Besides the tourist attractions, this neighborhood has small streets with artisanal and antique shops, all only 100 meters from the beach. Poetto, the main beach of Cagliari, is eight kilometers long and extends from La Sella del Diavolo to Quartu Sant’Elena

Cagliari’s winter is mild with temperatures between six and 14 degrees Celsius. However, summers are hot and best enjoyed at the beach.

The low cost of living also makes it appealing to new residents. On average, rent is around €600 per month for a two-room apartment in the city center. Some other areas to consider are Colle di Tuvixeddu, Colle di Monte Claro, and San Michele (also good for students).


The Leaning Tower of this beloved city is known internationally, but Pisa has much more to offer its residents. Located in Tuscany, it has over twenty historic churches and landmarks, for instance:

The city is small but bustling. Some of the most lively neighborhoods are Borgo Largo, Borgo Stretto, and Piazza delle Vettovaglie, which have multiple bars and are usually the center of student nightlife.

Pisa is the perfect choice for those who wish to live in Tuscany but save a little on rent and the overall cost of living. For example, the average rent in Florence (Firenze) is double that of Pisa.

Porta Lucca and Santa Maria are famous neighborhoods in the center. However, rent can be higher because of the central location. Porta a Piagge is a quiet, more affordable area, surrounded by greenery and close to the Arno river. If you don’t mind commuting, you will find even better value for money in the suburb of Cisanello.

During summer, the famous Forte dei Marmi beach is the perfect destination for a staycation. It is only 35 minutes away by car, or an hour by train if you prefer a more sustainable mode of transport.

Where to live in Italy

The best cities in Italy for families

Italy can be ideal for raising children, with many cities boasting natural beauty and an outdoor lifestyle. One such smaller city is Treiste, located in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

However, many newcomer families choose the metropolis of Milan because of its multiple top-rated international schools. Since it’s a business and financial hub, parents can also find more high-paying jobs. Other bigger cities that offer excellent education and healthcare include Florence, Modena, and Palermo.

Where to live in Italy when you retire

A 2022 study by Blacktower ranked Italy fifth out of 18 best European countries for retirement. Many pensioners prefer the hustle and bustle of an Italian city, as it offers a relaxed lifestyle, a warm climate, great food, wine, and an affordable cost of living.

Elderly women walking up a street in Naples
Naples (Photo: Davide Pischettola/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

Lake Como and Bolzano can be good choices for those wishing to live in bigger cities with a wider selection of entertainment and affordable cost of living. In a list of the best Italian provinces for residents over age 65, Bolzano ranked 3rd, Ravenna 2nd, and Trento was 1st.

The best cities in Italy if you’re single

Socializing and living in a city with a wide array of entertainment choices is a priority for single people. As such, bigger cities such as Milan and Rome are a fine choice for those looking to date. There are also music festivals such as MI AMI in Milan and Rock in Roma if you seek new experiences.

If you find these two cities too expensive (or chaotic), Florence and Venice (Venezia) are among the top 10 cities for the best nightlife

Lovers of the beach and summer parties all year long will feel at home in Salento and Ischia, as they are best known for live music and beach parties at night.

Where to live in Italy on a budget

Most cities in the central and southern regions of the country are more affordable for those living on a budget. Examples include the regions of Molise, Calabria, and Sicily (Sicilia). If you are looking for cheap rentals, the cities of Caltanissetta, Avelino, and Reggio Calabria have the lowest rental rates in the country. 

Low angle view of typical Sicilian apartments
Sicily (Photo: Vilija Valeisaite/Unsplash)

Some small villages offer monetary compensation to attract new residents if you are confident speaking Italian and not looking for an international community. For example, Locana in Piedmont offers a bonus of €3,000 every trimester for families with at least one child

The best cities in Italy for job seekers

Italy scored 35 out of 112 countries on the Education First English Proficiency Index (2022). Even though this translates into a moderate language-skill level, finding a job could be difficult if you do not speak Italian, especially in rural areas. However, some multinational companies or startups might offer an English-speaking work environment.

Overall, bigger cities, such as Rome and Milan, with a significant number of international companies are more accessible to native English-speaking job hunters. Some other cities to consider are Florence, Bergamo, Bologna, and Torino with extensive expat communities.

Where to live in Italy for business

According to a study by the Statista Research Department, the best city for starting a business is Milan, ranked first in Italy and 56th worldwide. Other cities highlighted by this study are Torino, Rome, and Florence (best for digital and freelancer work).

Person walking to work with orange umbrella on a rainy day in Florence
Florence (Photo: Tolga Kilinc/Unsplash)

Italy has multiple financial incentives to help companies modernize and expand within the country. Depending on how long the company has been established in the country, it could qualify for 0% loans and non-repayable grants.

Places to avoid in Italy

While a beautiful country, the Global Organized Crime Index also places Italy sixth out of 44 European countries.

Milan has a higher crime rate (e.g., muggings, pickpocketing) than any other Italian city, followed by Rimini and Torino. The main spots for these types of crimes are tourist attractions, where it is easy to snatch valuables from distracted holidaymakers.

While you do not need to avoid any city altogether, some neighborhoods might require more vigilance. These include Porta Palazzo in Torino, Quarto Oggiaro in Milan, Begato in Genoa (Genova), and Esquilino in Rome.

Although their operations is not usually considered a major threat to public safety, organized crime (i.e., the Mafia) is unfortunately still a reality, mostly in the South. That said, the annual number of crimes committed in the country decreased between 2014 and 2020.

Property websites

If you’re looking for a place in Italy to rent or buy, there are plenty of options. For example, you could check out a property portal such as:

On the other hand, those coming to Italy for a short stay can find temporary accommodation on sites such as Airbnb.

Useful resources