So you’re thinking about moving to Italy? Do it! Moving to any foreign country is such a unique, introversive experience. There are so many different ways to experience Italy, but the absolute best way is to live there. You can fully immerse yourself into the culture, explore hidden parts of the country, see the infamous attractions for yourself, and understand yourself a little bit more. Here is the ultimate guide for living in Italy.
The more you explore different areas and different countries, the more you learn about yourself – and I mean deeper things beyond how much you love pasta! Some parts of Italy are historical, some artistic and some modern.
The best way to see them all is to give yourself plenty of time to explore.
You never want to feel rushed when you are traveling. Living in Italy is a great way to give yourself time to explore your home base and other places around Italy.
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries with mountains, lakes, islands, and historic cities. You may feel like you are in a travel movie, with artistic architecture, fantastic food and drinks, and beautiful scenery.
Living in Italy showcases how cities used to be and how they have modernized.
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Tips Before Moving to Italy
Living in Italy can be a big move for anyone. There are important things to plan out before you go, and some that will need to be planned when you get there.
- Figure out where you want your home base city to be. I suggest making your home base somewhere you feel comfortable and somewhere populated enough to provide you with English speakers (if you don’t speak Italian), multiple modes of public and private transport options, and a multitude of living options. The top choices that accommodate all of these are Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples.
- Make a list of towns and cities that are a “must-go” for you. It is easy to get lost in your home base, so having a list that you can build upon is a great way to keep track of where you want to go. This can help when you arrive and start to get a hang of things, you can start to plan large trips encompassing multiple cities, or single trips!
- Be sure you have all your passports, visas, and police department requirements in order. Italy is in order when it comes to internationals. Living in Italy usually means you have to have a police check and you must keep it with you at all times while you are traveling, in case you are stopped by police. A great way to do this is with this product:
- Pick out a place to stay within your home base. Airbnb is a great way to find places to stay, you can do a long-term rental very easily. This is going to be your new home! Research going into this place should be extensive. If and when you are traveling, this could be where you store your leftover luggage. You want this place to be in a safe area, with added amenities.
- Insider Tip: A lot of apartments and homes in Italy do not have air conditioning, coffee makers, clothes dryers, and sometimes ovens. Be prepared to find many places without these!
Best Cities to Live in Italy for Expats, Retirees and Non-Italians
The four cities recommended are the most developed, yet deliver a great amount of authenticity. They are also near airports and have modes of public transport.
These are great places to live as they have access to many different cities within the beautiful country.
These cities can be a lot to tackle on their own, which is another reason why they are great places to live. Living in a different country means fully immersing yourself in a place you will call home.
It is not all traveling every chance you get, sometimes you need to explore where you actually are situated and these may be the best memories you have.
Pros of Living in Milan
Living in Milan is a great way to explore different parts of Italy. Milan has historic aspects, artistic aspects, fashion districts, and delicious food.
There is a big city feel with the Duomo and fashion district, but also a small-town feel in the arts district.
Cons of Living in Milan
Milan is the most expensive city to rent a room in Italy. In addition, it has the most traffic and Italian drivers can be a bit crazy!
Nearby Towns/ Cities to Milan
Milan has easy public transport options to Turin (2 hours), Venice (3 hours), Florence (3 hours), Genoa (2 hours), and Cinque Terre (3 hours). Milan also is very closeby to smaller towns in Italy that are worth taking a day trip to.
These include Lake Como, where George Clooney owns a house; Crema, where Call Me By Your Name was filmed; Bergamo, which is a medieval throwback; and Gromo, which sits on the border of Switzerland and the Swiss Alps. Or check out the Dolomites by visiting Bolzano, Italy. Check out these best things to do in Bolzano to make the most of your visit.
All of these will be easy to visit without much planning if you decide to make your home base Milan.
Here are some other top places to visit in Northern Italy.
Best Hidden Gems of Milan
Italy has many art markets, the Popcorn Garage Market is a favorite for many. Selling vintage art, clothes, jewelry, and handmade objects.
Another hidden gem is the Navigli district, which is a beautiful area located around a canal. Many events take place here on the weekends, with a lot of shopping options!
Be sure to check out restaurants in rural areas of the city, these are the best and most authentic!
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Pros of Living in Florence
Florence is one of the smaller cities, meaning fewer crowds and more small businesses to support! In addition, Florence has famous markets which are open all the time and a great way to experience local goods.
Cons of Living in Florence
Florence has been known to be a bit dirty, which can be something you start to notice when you live there for a long period of time! It is also not the most pedestrian-friendly, cars do not halt or slow down too often for you and sidewalks are not everywhere!
Nearby Towns/ Cities to Florence
Bologna is only an hour away and is known to have some of the best food in Italy. San Marino is its own state surrounded by Italy, a truly unique place to visit where buildings sit atop mountain peaks and all the roads are cobblestone.
Pisa is an hour and a half away, and we all know what is there, the Leaning Tower is an iconic place to visit.
Finally, Rio Marino is a city on an island off the East Coast of Italy, three hours away.
Rio Marino has the best beaches and cycle paths, a truly unique area to visit in Italy.
Best Hidden Gems in Florence
Borgo San Jacopo is a neighborhood on the opposite side of tourism with many towers to view the city from. The flea market in Piazza di Ciompi is a smaller version of the leather market and is a great way to casually browse vintage items.
Via Toscanella is a street full of murals from local artists that can change monthly! Take a stroll down here every month to see the changes!
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Pros of Living in Rome
There are so many Italy iconic features in your backyard if you live here! The culture is very rich here, you can feel so connected to Italy while living in Rome.
The weather is also some of the nicest, being in Southern Italy.
Cons of Living in Rome
This is the most populated city and it is oftentimes unreliable when it comes to public transport.
Many people are often lacking the modern touch that other cities may provide.
Nearby Towns/ Cities to Rome
One that you may know of is Vatican City. The smallest country in the world is located right outside of Rome and is filled with a rich history and a unique monarchy!
Tivoli is a little less than an hour away, a popular destination for a casual day trip if you are living in Rome. There are a lot of hidden gardens with high-quality restaurants.
Orvieto is just an hour and a half away and is known worldwide for its wineries.
Castel Gandolfo, only 40 minutes away is a very beautiful small town and adds a modern touch different from Rome.
Best Hidden Gems of Rome
Rome is full of art, where da Vinci and Michelangelo are there, so are many unknown artists. Check out Rome’s Quadro for street art. The Pyramid of Cestius is the only pyramid in Europe, quite a unique sight to Rome!
Rome is one of the best cities to visit in Europe due to its vast history, great food and plenty of things to experience nearby.
Take a stroll through Trastevere, one of Rome’s greener neighborhoods, you can feel like you are in a little town while walking through here.
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Pros of Living in Naples
This is a great southern city where you can access the beachy parts of the south and the historical parts of the north very easily.
As the third-largest city in Italy, Naples has a very small-town vibe with narrow streets and neighborhoods for residences. Naples has also been considered the safest of the four cities.
Cons of Living in Naples
While Naples is a southern, more beachy city it is a little less modern when it comes to technology. The city does not usually accept credit cards.
In addition, they have had a bit of an issue with trash and stray animals in the city center.
Nearby Towns/ Cities to Naples
Pompeii is just 40 minutes away, with Mount Vesuvius and historical buildings, it is interesting to see how the city has reformed since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
The Amalfi Coast is only an hour and a half away and full of so many cities and towns. The Coast, in general, is absolutely stunning, with coastline beaches, bright blue water, and marble mountains.
Almost any town you go to here will be incredible. Capri Island is two hours from Naples and is an iconic island off the coast of Italy.
Living in Italy is so special because you can see history and islands, two completely different worlds, in one country.
Best Hidden Gems of Naples
Naples is full of underground tunnels where there are a lot of treasures, it is like its own museum. Naples sits on the edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea, so there are many great places to get wonderful views – one of which is Villa Doria d’Angri.
Check it out!!
Always look up at the ceilings whenever you enter buildings in Naples, artists loved putting art on the ceiling for a dramatic effect on their art.
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How to Save Money In Italy
Living in any country can be expensive, living in Italy is, unfortunately, no exception. Here are some tips for saving money!
- Go to Apertivo: Apertivo is essentially a happy hour, with free food! Milan is one of the better-known places for Apertivo. Italians eat dinner later at night, usually, 8 – 10 p.m. Apertivo starts around 5 p.m. You pay a few extra dollars on a cocktail and get all-you-can-eat food. Some places have better spreads than others- scope it out!
- Walk if you can!! Living in Italy you should be able to walk most places. The second best option is train, bus, or tram. Hiring a car or taxi can really be expensive in Italy, as rideshares are not as common. Public transport for the win!
- Visit local markets for produce. Supermarkets can be very expensive, and you are supporting local. Italy is full of local artists and homemakers. While living in Italy it is good to support local businesses.
- Don’t eat out every night. Believe it or not, boxed pasta is even better in Italy. It is nice to eat out, but don’t make it a habit!
- Wait for saldi to shop. Saldi is a twice-annual sale lasting for about six weeks each. It is basically like an extended Black Friday. Almost all stores cut their prices, it is so worth it to save up!
- Haggle, negotiate, don’t be shy. You can negotiate pricing basically everywhere in Italy. If you look like a tourist, they will almost immediately up the price. Try to haggle, you may get really lucky and save up bits daily.
See Related: Best Ways to Save Money for Travel
Tips for Traveling Across Italy
Living in Italy is an amazing opportunity to travel. You truly can see the whole country. The greatest thing about Italy is the public transport. You can get a transport card that works all over the country. So, when you travel from city to city you can use them anywhere.
In addition, trains have beautiful scenery. Many people want to travel by car when they travel through Italy, but trains have just as pretty of views.
When traveling from major city to major city, use trains or busses like Flixbus. They have comfortable options and have some major deals.
Plan big trips ahead of time and day trips spontaneously. The best part about living in Italy is being so close to so many characteristic small towns and scenery.
Plan all your trips out for your “must-go” cities, but find some little towns nearby as you go along!
Check out airline and flight websites often to look for deals. You would be surprised how often a random flight within Italy or to surrounding countries goes on an amazing sale.
Check it out and snag it if you see it!
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Where to Go & What to Do There
There are so many places to go while living in Italy and so many things to do.
These places are the most recommended cities and small towns, as well as the activities that they are unique for.
- Milan – Duomo! While in Milan you must see the Duomo, it looks like a fake background, that is how beautiful it truly is. This cathedral took nearly six centuries to finish!!
- Florence – Markets! Florence and markets go hand in hand. You can find some of the best products and markets in Florence. Taking a trip to Florence means getting some bargain shopping from the markets! Take a look at the Duomo!
- Rome – an obvious one, The Colosseum! How often can you say you stood by an artifact from 70 A.D.? This is a pretty large artifact, to say the least, meant to seat 50,000 – 80,000 people, the size of the Colosseum will blow your mind.
- Naples – Limoncello factory tour! There are so many different limoncello makers in Naples, find one and they will gladly show you around and give you some tastings!
- Venice – Gondola ride! At almost any stop, gondoliers will be awaiting passengers. You can haggle with them on the price. Venice is the one place you can take taxis, water taxis! After you feel like royalty in a gondola, travel the rest of the canals via a water taxi.
- Cinque Terre – Five Island Hike! These five towns, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are situated in beautiful coves on the coast. The hiking trails between each town offer unique views, and each town has its own unique vibe. You can also take a water taxi from town to town if you are feeling like a hike is too much.
- Alberobello, Puglia – Museum Hop! Alberobello has a plethora of museums located in houses, huts, and historical buildings. Walking around the streets and popping into these museums is a great way to learn more about Italy.
- Sardinia – Mountain Beach Tour! Sardinia has alcoves and mountains on top of beaches. The best way to see all of them is through a 4×4 tour. Exhilarating and beautiful, so worth the price!
- Positano – Amalfi Drive! The Amalfi coast is unlike any other, the coastal town is picturesque Southern Italy. Grab your camera and do the famous Amalfi Drive along the coast.
- Cefalu, Sicily – Boat Tour! Sicily is an island off of Italy, the best thing to do there is explore the water. You can book a boat tour in advance or just catch one when you get there!
- Bellagio – Sip Cocktails and Walk the streets! This one may not seem too crazy, but Bellagio is too beautiful to do anything else. Situated on Lake Como, the town has a birds-eye-view of the lake and the cobblestone streets. Relax, take it all in, you’re living the Italian life!
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