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The best (and worst) places to live in Italy in 2023

A new quality of life study has ranked Italian cities from best to worst, with the gap between north and south as wide as ever.

The northern city of Bolzano offers Italy's best quality of life, according to a study.
The northern city of Bolzano offers Italy's residents the best quality of life, according to a new study. Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP.

This year, the inhabitants of the northeastern Italian city of Bolzano can say they live in the best province in Italy for quality of life – at least according to the latest survey compiled by ItaliaOggi and Rome’s La Sapienza University.

Now in its 25th year, this is among the most respected of several annual quality of life surveys conducted in Italy.

READ ALSO: Why are Trento and Bolzano rated the best places to live in Italy?

Bolzano took the top spot from last year’s winner Trento, which now ranks fourth.

The northern economic powerhouse of Milan was in second place, with top five completed by the cities of Bologna and Florence.

Rome was in 33rd place, this year beaten by Turin in 31st.

Venice ranked 25th, while southern capital Naples was ninth from bottom in 99th place.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Which is the best place to live in Italy?

The rankings are based on factors including employment opportunities, standards in health and education, crime levels, income, leisure facilities, social security and environment.

Venice is the Italian city with the 25th best quality of life, according to a new study. Photo by MARCO SABADIN / AFP.

Such studies usually show a clear north-south divide, and this one is no exception: the 63 provincial capitals where the quality of life was rated ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ were predominantly in the central and eastern Alps, the Po Valley and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, ItaliaOggi noted.

Towns and cities in the south of Italy and its two major islands, by contrast, overwhelmingly have a ‘poor’ or ‘insufficient’ quality of life.

“The 2023 survey confirms a trend: the fracture between the centre-north, more performing and resilient, and southern and island Italy, characterised by persistent vulnerability,” the publication concludes.

READ ALSO: ‘If you want quality of life, choose Italy’s sunny south over the efficient north’

The findings also show that major cities in the centre-north have seen a strong post-pandemic recovery in the past year; as demonstrated by Rome’s jump from 53rd to 33rd place, and Turin’s from 54th to 31st.

While the study does not rank smaller towns and rural areas, it is seen as representative partly as most public services, including local government offices and larger hospitals and healthcare facilities, are generally located in the provincial capital.

Here’s the survey’s complete ranking of all 107 provincial capitals in Italy, from best to worst according to its criteria:

1. Bolzano

2. Milan

3. Bologna

4. Trento

5. Florence

6. Padua

7. Parma

8. Monza and Brianza

9. Aosta

10. Pordenone

11. Siena

12. Brescia

13. Modena

14. Reggio Emilia

15. Forlì-Cesena

16. Verona

17. Vicenza

18. Treviso

19. Udine

20. Mantua

21. Rimini

22. Belluno

23. Bergamo

24. Ravenna

25. Venice

26. Cuneo

27. Lecco

28. Ancona

29. Prato

30. Trieste

31. Turin

32. Sondrio

33. Rome

34. Varese

35. Como

36. Cremona

37. Pesaro and Urbino

38. Verbano-Cusio-Ossola

39. Lodi

40. Ascoli Piceno

41. Macerata

42. Gorizia

43. Savona

44. Biella

45. Pisa

46. Piacenza

47. Novara

48. Ferrara

49. Arezzo

50. Fermo

51. Lucca

52. Perugia

53. Livorno

54. Pistoia

55. Pavia

56. Grosseto

57. Genoa

58. Terni

59. Vercelli

60. Asti

61. Teramo

62. Massa-Carrara

63. La Spezia

64. Rovigo

65. Isernia

66. Pescara

67. L’Aquila

68. Alessandria

69. Imperia

70. Viterbo

71. Potenza

72. Matera

73. Cagliari

74. Chieti

75. Frosinone

76. Benevento

77. Sassari

78. Nuoro

79. Campobasso

80. Rieti

81. Latina

82. Bari

83. Avellino

84. Lecce

85. Barletta-Andria-Trani

86. Salerno

87. Catanzaro

88. Ragusa

89. South Sardinia

90. Brindisi

91. Oristano

92. Vibo Valentia

93. Trapani

94. Caserta

95. Reggio Calabria

96. Foggia

97. Cosenza

98. Palermo

99. Naples

100. Enna

101. Taranto

102. Syracuse

103. Catania

104. Agrigento

105. Messina

106. Caltanissetta

107. Crotone

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For members


Reader question: How common is air conditioning in Rome apartments?

With summer at the Eternal City's doors and temperatures on the rise, one reader asks: how easy is it to find an apartment in Rome with air conditioning?

Reader question: How common is air conditioning in Rome apartments?

Question: ‘I’m thinking of moving to Rome next year. With the effects of climate change and summers getting hotter, are air conditioners becoming more common in homes? If so, how does that work with the peculiar Italian system of consumption of electricity?”

Last summer was a scorcher in Italy, and Rome last July registered its hottest temperature since records began, at 41.8 degrees Celsius.

Yet despite warnings from Italian health authorities to drink water and stay inside, one object was missing from most homes in the capital: an air-conditioning unit.

READ MORE: Seven tips for surviving (and enjoying) Rome in summer

Air conditioning is far from guaranteed in apartments in Italy in general: partly because of the amount of energy they use, but there’s a long-standing fear of cold air (colpo d’aria) and a belief that if you stand near cold currents, you will be ill.

While this may be true for some people, soaring temperatures suggest this fear will increasingly be put to rest – and the most recent data suggests that it somewhat has.

A growing number of homeowners are looking at installing air-conditioning units in Lazio, the region where Rome sits, with a six percent rise in enquiries from 2021 to 2022.

This increase was attributed to the launch of Italy’s bonus condizionatori, a state incentive launched in 2022 for the purchase of more efficient AC units, as well as to rising temperatures.

The trend seems to be nationwide, with certain types of air conditioning units seeing a 27.9 percent increase in the first half of last year, according to association Assoclima.

READ ALSO: What are the rules for installing air conditioning in your Italian home?

However, this doesn’t mean it’s getting much easier to find an apartment with air conditioning: in Rome, their absence is still all too apparent

If you go into most restaurants, particularly outside the city centre, you will not find it. If you are going on holiday, a lot of places advertise having AC when perhaps it should be a given.

And if you’re renting or buying a property, chances are you’ll be advised to buy a fan and close the shutters on the windows during midday.

Finding an apartment with air conditioning in Rome is possible, but still a rarity. Real-estate search portal Idealista recently surveyed the percentage of properties up for rent or sale in each city which had air-conditioning. Rome did not even make the top 20.

What’s more, it’s hard to know what will happen when air conditioning becomes more common in Rome. There were blackouts last summer in the Rome quarters of Torpignattara, Alessandrino, and Marconi after people turned up their air conditioners in an attempt to keep cool.

Rome isn’t the only part of Italy where this happens: widespread blackouts in Milan in 2022 were blamed on soaring air conditioner use amid extreme heat.

There’s also the fact that standard household power capacity in Italy is set at 3.3 KW (3,300 Watts), which many find is too low to run more than one power-hungry appliance at a time. This limit can be increased by your electricity provider, for a fee, but the expense is often prohibitive.

For all these reasons, air conditioning is still not common in Rome, but it is on the rise. If it’s a must-have for you it’s always necessary to double-check before leasing anywhere.