If you’re considering relocation to Italy and want to know where you should live, this article has your answer. Here are the top ten places that expats consider their favorite choices for living in Italy.
Italy Has 20 Regions, Below Expats Write About Where They Live, Ultimate Guide!
best places to live in italy
|The Adriatic Coast|
Like many who have travelled in Italy, we had a secret dream to one day live in Italy. Unexpectedly, that dream became a possibility and so the search for the perfect location began.
Having travelled to many of the major cities, we knew we wanted something more peaceful. We had fallen in love with the northern mountains, but knew the weather would be too cold in the winter. Who doesn’t love Tuscany?
But properties there were out of our price range. The south of Italy would be too hot, so it was a dilemma. Then one day, we saw an article about Abruzzo and the die was cast. A trip to view houses sealed the deal.
Our estate agent, Fabrizio guided us through the most magnificent landscapes, rugged mountains, verdant hills and valleys, forests and lakes, coastlines with miles of empty, sandy beaches, hilltop towns and villages and Pescara, a busy cosmopolitan city.
Our choice was a house half way up a mountain, with views of the Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Apennine Mountain, The Adriatic Sea and the lust valleys below. House prices in Abruzzo were considerably cheaper than in other more well know areas, so we were able to achieve everything on our wish list.
Abruzzo is authentically Italian. English is not widely spoken but the local people are patient and helpful with our faltering Italian. Our neighbours have been incredibly helpful during our transition into our new life. My husband has had so much help in tending our small vineyard and olive grove.
Home-made wine and olive oil have been a delight. Another neighbour, fluent in English and Italian was invaluable when applying for residency, changing driving licences and joining the healthcare system.
At every stage we have felt welcome from the local people. Covid delayed the exploration of our region but now we are out and about, we are stunned with the beauty of our area. Every trip out is peppered with “wow, look at that”, “That’s amazing”, “we are so lucky to live here”.
Abruzzo is the greenest region of Europe, with three national parks on the doorstep. The diversity of wildlife is amazing with bears roaming the parks, wolves howling in the valleys and wild boar wandering through the hills.
Conservation and protection of the ecosystems is a high priority in Abruzzo. Local festivals and events happen constantly through the year, from Sulmona’s spring tradition of parades and events, to Cocullo’s festival of the snakes, and the big events in August to celebrate mid-summer holidays for the Italians.
The changing seasons provide constantly evolving landscapes. Snow on the high mountains glitter in blue skies for half the year. Spring brings a plethora of colour in the forests and valleys as the natural vegetation blooms into life.
Summer and autumn provide the harvest of grapes, olives and a glut of fruit, vegetables and nuts. Winter temperature are generally mild, except for a few weeks of snow. Spring and autumn weather is delightful and summer is hot and dry. Would I change anything?
Yes, I should have moved here ten years earlier.
Basilicata, Southern Italy
This is a brief outline of my experience of living in Basilicata. I am certain that there are others living in Basilicata who have had different experiences.
My husband and I are English. We lived in the outskirts of London and were working 6 days a week just to make ends meet.
We became aware of Basilicata (previously known as Lucane) in 2015 when a friend who happens to be Italian invited us to visit the Village in Southern Italy where he was born. My husband and I had already fallen in love with Italy from previous visits.
Before we had only ever visited the tourist parts of Italy, and we thought it would be an experience to visit an unknown area of Italy.
We therefore found ourselves visiting a little village named San Mauro Forte in Basilicata.
We had never heard of this Region before but we immediately fell in love with the beautiful views of the countryside and mountains.
We only stayed for 4 days initially but we fell in love not only with the Village but also with the people, who were very welcoming. We visited again the following year and decided to buy a holiday home here in San Mauro Forte.
In our view San Mauro Forte is quite central in Basilicata in that it is only a 30-45minute drive to Matera (the European Capital of Culture in 2019) where the Passion of Christ and the latest 007 movies were filmed. It is also home to the Sassi area, which is a complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside and has numerous museums that are well worth a visit. At night the area is lit up and is spectacular to see.
It also takes about the same amount of time to reach the Capital of Basilicata which is Potenza. Potenza is apparently one of the highest regional capitals in Italy, and in my view, is more commercialised than Matera. Just a little further on from Potenza is Salerno, with Naples only being about another hour to 1.5 hours on from there.
In the other direction it takes about a 45 minute to an hour drive from San Mauro Forte to Metaponto, Policoro or Nova Siri, all of which have the most beautiful beaches. They all overlook the Ionian Sea.
Metaponto has a sandy beach and is home to the ruins of Metapontum. Policoro has a pebbly beach but offers a lot more by way of water activities such as kayaking, surf board paddling, sailing. Policoro is only a short distance to the ruins of the ancient city of Eraclea and is the home of the National Archaeological Museum of Siritide.
Basilicata is home to the Parco Regionale di Gallipoli-Cognato and of the Little Dolomites Lucane, which is a mountainous regional park spanning thousands of acres. It is very inviting in the heat of the summer. It is ideal for country walks and has an adventure park which offers activities such as mountain biking and climbing frames for the children.
Also in Basilicata are the more well-known tourist sites of Maratea (the statute of Christ the Redeemer), Castelmezzano (Path of the Seven Stones) and Pietrapertosa (Angel Flight – zip wire between Pietrapertosa and Castelmezzano). There are many more beautiful sites to visit in Basilicata – far too many for me to mention here.
There are 3 airports which are between 1.5 to 2.5 hours away from Basilicata – Bari in Puglia, Brindisi also in Puglia, and Naples.
I would say that to live or stay in one of the rural villages in Basilicata you will need to have your own transport. Although there are buses and trains, they are not frequent. This is fine if you are content to spend the whole day at the beach or shopping.
If however you were to live or stay in one of the more centralised Towns then the transport links are great – I believe it takes less than 2 hours to Naples or 4.5 hours to Rome by train from Potenza.
In 2018 we decided to retire early and came to live permanently in San Mauro Forte. Since living here we have become more acutely aware of the differences between North Italy and South Italy, and in particular the bureaucracy.
It took us 3 trips to Matera to exchange our English driving licences for Italian ones. It took nearly 2-years to obtain our Tessera Sanitaria (health cards) – the latter was however in the midst of the covid pandemic.
I would highly recommend that anyone wanting to live in Basilicata to learn the Italian language. We did not do so before moving to Italy permanently and have found it difficult finding a school which is easy to get to, to be able to take lessons. If living or staying in one of the more populated Towns in Basilicata you will always find someone who speaks English. Not so much in the more rural villages.
I understand that the work situation in Basilicata is not great. I believe that less than 50% of the population in this region are currently in work. It may be easier to obtain work if living in one of the main Towns or Tourist areas in Basilicata,
particularly as the internet connections are, I believe, better than in the more remote villages. Here in San Mauro Forte, we had fibre installed in the Village in late 2020. Many of the occupants are however still waiting for it to be connected to their homes.
Food is also another consideration. Do not expect to be able to get English or American food in the shops in Basilicata. Although of course there is always the option of on-line shopping and having any particular item couriered. In my experience the food is very much seasonal here.
Healthcare – this is not something that I have yet had to call upon apart from the odd prescription here and there. I understand however that the hospitals in Potenza and Matera (which are the hospitals local to me) are good, although there are long waiting times. There is also a shortage of English-speaking Doctors in Basilicata, which is much the same for Lawyers.
If you want to immerse yourself in a typical Italian lifestyle then in my view Basilicata is the place for you, whether for a holiday or to live.
“Let’s move to Calabria” we said in a moment of madness, having purchased a holiday home there 18 months previously because it’s where my husband’s family are from.
So, we sold everything, packed up and with our 8-year-old daughter, made our way from the UK to a small village called Falconara Albanese, halfway between Paola and Amantea on the west coast, 16 years later we are still here, well established enjoying life!!
We were met with extremely friendly enthusiasm from the local people who were in wander as to why a British family had moved to Calabria, many of whom had not met British people before!! The fact that my husband has family here helped us to settle initially and now we are fully immersed into the Calabrian way of life.
I won’t say that it was easy in those first couple of years and I particularly had those “oh my god, what have we done?” moments. My husband worked with a cousin, my daughter had to settle into school,
which was very different from school in the UK – a little overwhelming to say the least, and she had to learn the language – which fortunately she did fairly quickly. I, on the other hand, opened a business, had to learn the language, battle with the bureaucracy and build a trust and reputation with other businesspeople that I came into contact with which as a foreigner didn’t happen overnight.
I couldn’t have done it without the help of another cousin of my husbands who helped me for the first couple of years. Thankfully, as the years have passed, I have developed my business and reputation and have long standing collaborations with many other professionals and tradespeople.
Invasions on the dramatic region over the years by Byzantine, Greeks and Normans have left their mark on its landscape and culture this added to its rich heritage and traditions make Calabria what it is today, a plentiful mix of ancient and modern with an abundance of unspoilt scenery.
Both sandy and pebbly beaches, sparkling sea and rocky coves are set along its 800km of coastline all set against a backdrop of lush fertile mountains that give way to blue lakes and waterfalls. Many towns and villages still hold regular festivals celebrating their local cultures.
Over the years as we have travelled around this beautiful region, we have realised that you are never very far from a “wowwww!! look at that,” moment with Calabria offering the most stunning landscapes.
It boasts 3 National Parks; il Parco Nazionale del Pollino, il Parco Nazionale della Sila e il Parco Nazionale dell’Aspromonte, diverse scenery from wide valleys, lakes and rivers to tall evergreen and deciduos trees. At the heart of the La Sila National Park is the Fallistro Nature Reserve which hosts around 60 of the tallest pine trees – I Giganti della Sila, with heights of 45m, diameters of 2m and an average of 350 years old they are well worth a visit.
The area offers many activities, biking, quad bikes, horse riding, canoeing, trekking with organised excursions offered throughout the year. Taking advantage of the winter snow you can also go skiing and skidooing – not too many places where you can be at the top of the ski slopes and have a spectacular view of the sea!!
For those after a bit more of an adrenalin rush rafting, paragliding, canyoning and paintballing are on offer at Il Parco Nazionale di Pollino, all these activities are based around the River Lao with its backdrop of stunning mountains, valleys and waterfalls. We were impressed by the professional team of people organising all the activities there – a great day out.
If history is your thing, then churches, monasteries, castles abound in the many historical villages where you can step back in time and enjoy age-old traditions that are the real Calabria. Many villages throughout the year host religious festivals and visiting Nocera Terinese during Holy week was certainly an experience with the Vattienti di Nocera Terinese being an ancient ritual dating back to at least 1618.
The procession begins by carrying the statue of the Pieta – Jesus laying in the arms of Mary, through the town. Then the men of the village, whose ancestors previously have been participants in the ritual, wearing a dark shirt, shorts and head covering parade through the town performing flagellation, beating their legs, using a diligently prepared cork – il cardo, with 13 pieces of glass.
They leave marks on walls and doors. At the end of the ritual, they wash their legs with an infusion of water and rosemary and the streets are running red. Not for the faint hearted!!
We have participated in grape picking to make wine, olive collecting for olive oil, salami and prosciutto making, wild asparagus picking and fruit gathering all celebrated with the obligatory large gathering of people to eat pasta and make merry with the homemade wine and traditional tarantella music!!
Several villages in this stunning area grow certified food produce which means, the cultivation of this produce has traceability and guarantees that it is of the highest quality. They can only be grown in land that has specific qualities for each, with the Pomodori di Belmonte, Cipolla Rossa di Tropea, Patate di Sila , Clementine di Calabria, to name but a few. Cheeses also make the list with Caciocavallo Silano and Pecorino Crotonese pairing excellently with DOC wines from local producers Cantina Ciro and Cantina Statti – who offer tours around the winery and tastings of the various wines and their olive oil too!! Well worth a trip, we have been a few times and never leave empty handed.
All this paired with plenty of fresh local fish and meats excite the taste buds with an abundance of flavours leaving us in no doubt why the Calabresi are so proud of their food.
There is so much more to Calabria than I can write in this short article, but I hope that it has given a taster to what it is like to live here and just a few of the wonderful things it has to offer!!
AnyExpat Real Estate Partner In Calabria
Campania da vivere e da scoprire! (Campania to live and discover!) Campania, Italia. Home of my maternal ancestors. Home to the city known worldwide as the birthplace of pizza, “La Bella Napoli” ( beautiful Naples) of course! There is a reason that Goethe said “Vedi Napoli e poi mouri “( See Naples and then die.) Campania, let’s just say you either love it or you hate it and that can change depending on the day!
Today, like most days I choose to love it! The mountains, the sea, fresh air, rolling hills, art, museums, history, the food, and the pizza! Wait, did I mention pizza? But seriously, Campania is home to the ruins of Pompeii, il Vesuvio ( Mount Vesuvius), The National Archeological Museum, The Royal Palace of Caserta, Underground villages, Castles, and so much more! Besides art, history and ancient ruins there are also small lesser known things to see and experience such as Caserta Vecchia, a medieval borgo ( a small medieval village), beautiful beaches, Nature Preserves, and nearby islands to explore ( Capri, Ischia and Procida). I haven’t even begun to tell you about” La costiera amalfitana” ( The Amalfi Coast) with its beautiful, breathtaking views, including the “Path of the Gods”, and “The Lemon trail”, with fresh juicy lemons that are the size of your head! ( Who even knew that color yellow even existed?) It’s no wonder that people flock to Campania for their holidays! That being said, Campania is also a fabulous place to live.
The beauty of this region is that you can choose the city life, or the country life! Let me tell you a bit about everyday life in Campania. If you have a car, then country life is way more liveable. I say this because not every town or village has a train. However, most towns and villages have buses that run back and forth to big cities ( Naples and even Rome) however they may not be at times that work for you.
For example my town has a bus that runs to Naples but it only leaves at 6:40 a.m. or 4 p.m. with no way to return the same evening. Many of the buses are running on school schedules. This may mean there are less or no buses running on Sunday and limited hours during the week and on Saturdays. If you can find one that works for you, they are inexpensive and generally show up as promised. It pays to do some research before planning your excursion so you won’t be stranded.
This is the price to pay to live in a beautiful place that is off the tourist path. However, the fact that you had to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the only bus out on a Saturday morning will be quickly forgotten, ( and forgiven) as soon as you have your first sip of coffee for the day.
Or even better your first bite of a sfogliatella ( or any other popular pastry in Campania) ,your first plate of pasta, or your first bite of fresh pizza. All of these things will be served to you with old fashioned hospitality! If you want your food even more farm to table fresh you can eat at an agriturismo. You can even make a weekend getway of it.
The prices in Campania are generally affordable, especially during the off season. Campania like the rest of Italy is home to “Sacre”. These are festivals celebrating various Saints, Holidays, or even local foods or products. There are lemon, chestnut, cheese, and of course even pizza festivals!
But, you don’t need to wait for a festival to celebrate, you can go to any local restuarant or bar and get an “aperitivo” most any night of the week and have a drink and celebrate “La dolce vita!” ( the sweet life). The portions of food served at most places in Campania for an aperitivo are nothing less than abundant!
You’ll swear someone’s Italian nonna is behind the counter making sure you are stuffed to the gills, and that’s before your dinner! I can sometimes hear my italian grandmothers yelling at me “Mangia!” Perchè stai a dieta! Sei magra!” (Eat , why are you on a diet, you’re skinny!). It’s not only in restuarants that this happens. Sometimes the supermarket workers want you to “assagiare”, try and taste new foods.
This can also happen at the weekly open air market, where you soon become known as the foreigner ( I’m known as America, or Brooklyn, even though I am from nearby Staten Island!) Warning!You may soon notice the number on the scale increase but don’t worry Campania has so many trails you will walk it off in no time!
So, from ancient history, amazing food, beaches, pizza to the sun and sea , You too can have this experience everyday in Campania! Campania is also a great place to live to learn Italian. After mastering Italian, you can also after time learn many local dialects, and of course the beautiful language of Naples, Napoletano!!
You’ll be cooking and speaking all of the languages of Campania in no time! One thing is for sure, you can’t beat the culture and atosphere in Campania. You may feel like it’s a challenge at first but it’s all worth it!
Emilia Romagna is a fantastic region for all, from its historical and cultural monuments up to the entertaining beaches of the famous Romagnola Coast.
You don’t believe it? Let me explain why!
In Emilia Romagna you can admire small Medieval and Renaissance treasures which are spread throughout the entire region, not to mention its beautiful coasts which are amongst the world’s most well-known in Europe for night life. But it doesn’t end here. In this splendid region you can explore centuries old – forests, national parks with crystal clear lakes, and you can also appreciate unique historical traditions, religious tours and the most ancient University in the world.
Emilia Or Romagna?
Emilia (Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna e Ferrara) and Romagna (Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, Rimini) have different architectural styles, dialects and, most of all, cultural and culinary traditions.
As we have already said, you can never get bored in Emila Romagna. You can find places and sights that are capable of satisfying everyone, from the youngest to the oldest.
Let’s start from Bologna: it is known as the “Dotta” (The Learned) because the first University in the world was founded here during medieval times (the prestigious Alma Mater where I have studied and my career as an Italian language teacher was born). It is also called the “Grassa” (The Chubby) because of the good food, and the “Rossa” (The Red), for the typical color of the bricks of its towers and palaces.
It was also once called the “Turrita” (The Towered City) because it had hundreds of towers. Now, there are 20 towers left plus two called “Asinella and Garisenda.” Together with the University, they have become the symbols of the city.
If you think you do not have enough knowledge of art, you will find all you need at the National Art Gallery and at the Mambo (Modern Art Museum in Bologna) where you can admire great works of art.
If you are thinking of spending the evening in Bologna, remember that this city never sleeps. After a lavish supper at one of the many typical traditional restaurants that fill the Bologna streets, you only have to choose how to spend the evening: Bologna will be able to satisfy your entertainment, whether you decide to go to an elegant bar in the old part of town, or to the young University zone in Via Zamboni, or even to the noisy street of Pratello.
A Cultural Overview: What Makes Emilia Romagna So Unique?
Emilia Romagna is a region in northern Italy that is known for its unique culture. The region is named after the Emilian people, who are the predominant population in the area. The key cultural elements of Emilia Romagna include its po River, balsamic vinegar, and northerly location.
The po River forms the border between Emilia Romagna and Lombardy and provides a natural boundary for the two regions. The river has been an important part of the region’s culture and history. Balsamic vinegar was first made in the area around Modena, which is located on the banks of the po River. Today, balsamic vinegar is produced throughout Emilia Romagna, as well as in other parts of Italy.
The northerly location of Emilia Romagna has also had a significant impact on its culture
What Can You Eat In Emilia Romagna?
Well, once again, you have a lot to choose from; typical products of this region are well-known throughout the world. Just think of the exquisite Parmigiano Reggiano or the delicious Parma Ham.
But, if you decide to go on a tour to taste these typical specialties and you are going through Bologna, you must certainly try some of the following dishes: the Tortellini, typically filled pasta which can be in soup or simply with cream, or Tagliatelle with meat sauce which are rigorously made by hand by the “zdora” (the lady of the house).
Still in Bologna, we suggest you taste another specialty: The Lasagna, which must unavoidably have at least 7 layers.
If you are thinking of a trip to the seaside, we suggest you try The Piadina, which is thin flat bread which you can fill with whatever you prefer. An honorable mention must be made to raw ham, squacquerone cheese and arugula or ham and mozzarella cheese. These are the most popular.
But don’t worry! The specialties and delicious foods of Emilia Romagna are numerous and we are certain that you will enjoy discovering them by yourself!
This is all! If you are thinking of organizing a trip to Emilia Romagna, just follow these simple and short indications and you will be 100% satisfied!
So I’ve lived here for 15yrs as an expat and here’s my take:
It’s a city I wouldn’t trade with any other in the world. But not everyone has that experience. Like any city it may suit you or not depending on your own unique preferences of style of life and how you like to spend your time. Your values etc.
If you want to look at the negatives it’s a dirty city, people can be very reserved, any form of private transport is a problem (traffic and parking) while there aren’t many local job opportunities.
But the first thing you have to understand about Genoa is it still represents it’s history. Genoa being such a large port city spent years fighting off invaders and as such it’s a very reserved city. It takes time to get to know it properly and find the gems, to get to know it and see it’s true character.
Once you’re in and you have some time, start meeting locals you’ll see it for what it really is:
A city vibrant of history and stories – I would highly recommend getting a tour guide when you come as you’ll miss everything… like I said the genovese had spent centuries hiding their ‘treasures’ from invaders and to this day it’s still the norm. It’s a city that has so many hidden bars and restaurants that will just take your breathe away and they won’t be full of tourists. The city too offers a wide range of ambients depending on what you’re looking for : want busy gritty centre for evening drinks : go to the historical centre, want something chic : visit somewhere like via Cesarea, or want a cocktail on the beach while the sun goes down head to corso italia, want something cool and in nature: go inland slightly to somewhere like Bavari… and the most wonderful thing is most of these places can be reached on foot. You see Genoa is a smaller city and due to it’s geographical positioning the city centre is also quite compact. So everything is reachable by foot (so the transport issue isn’t much of a problem anyways)
Moving on something I love is the mix between the sea and the mountains (something that’s not common anywhere in the world) you can go skiing within 1.5hrs and within only a few minutes (depending where you’re based) you’re sitting in the Mediterranean. But what this also means is that Liguria is quite mountainous and therefore you find many small fishing villages along the coast and the chance to go hiking with some breathtaking scenes (just look at places like 5terre) on our doorstep, all reachable by train and only 20minutes away. The mountains also mean that we have our own micro climate: never as hot as some places in the summer and never gets too cold in the winter. Not bad. I mean in January if it’s a nice day you can be sitting on the beach with a t-shirt on.
Next. Moving on to food. Sure we have some amazing pesto and focaccia.. but Liguria is full of many amazing dishes that many people don’t know of due to being on the coast: especially fish based dishes with the likes of octopus and potatoes, anchovies from the 5 terre, but also things like focaccia formaggio from recco and ameretti from sassello. Meals here are much lighter than in other areas of the country due to the warmer temperatures in winter.
You’ll find that while the people are reserved initially they have enormous hearts and once they know you, you’ll be like family to them and you can depend on them for a lifetime and if you don’t like people who are too invasive they strike a wonderful balance. And I must admit we have a wonderful expat community that are just heart warming: although like everything : you’ve got to find them as nothing’s advertised.
One thing I’d point out though is that Liguria is a city you live outdoors… whether it be aperitivos, beaches, eating out or hiking etc you’ll enjoy it if you like to be outside. If you are a homesy person I wouldn’t recommend it; due to the mountains, space is tight and homes are consequentially quite small and gardens are a luxury.
Anyways, I could go on for days… but hopefully this gives you a small insight into what Genoa is about. I would say visit before moving anywhere, the challenge is that Genoa isn’t a city that captures a tourist as you just see the surface, the gritty side of it. It captures your heart once you get to know her and her real character. That can only be done with time. So if you compare it to other Italian cities based on initial impressions it’ll never win. But after living in a variety of places in Italy : it’s definitely my favourite.
If you do come let me know
It really is a dream come true to be living in this amazing region I now call home. My name is Ann and my husband and I retired to live here in Terracina, a resort town with a coast line of 15 Km, along the Tyrrhenian Sea, in the province of Latina, in the region of Lazio in Central Italy.
Let me share some of the delights with you:
Surrounded by mountainous views with pretty coastal towns and remote, secluded medieval villages dotted around the varied terrain, the region of Lazio has so much to offer. San Felice Circeo, Sperlonga, Gaeta, Anangi, Sermoneta, Nemi and Greccio are only a few of the pretty villages and medieval towns, some of which I have visited and know quite well, and all with a different reason to visit.
Sperlonga is just beautiful and must be one of the prettiest little towns in Italy. How lucky are we that it’s only 20 minutes by car from Terracina or a short train ride from Rome. It’s a combination of a village and a seaside resort with the village perched on a rocky hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea and at it’s base a beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear waters.
Wander around the little white washed houses, through the narrow alleyways and courtyards with seating areas to capture those stunning views. You will come across boutiques selling all sorts of local goods and plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants. Our friend introduced us to Sperlonga many years ago and we always take our friends and family here when they visit…..its first on the list!
Sermonata is not far from Rome and has to be one of the most interesting villages in the Lazio region. Surrounded by its high walls and completely perched around the Castle Caetani you can walk through the tiny maze of winding streets and historical buildings which date back to the Middle Ages, to the thirteenth century in fact. There are many wonderful traditional restaurants and bars and you could easily spend a whole day as there really is so much to see.
Rome the capital city of the region and of Italy is on our doorstep, so to speak. An hour by train and we are in one of the most vibrant cities in the world. We never tire of going there and the joy of finding something new is always exciting, and there are lots to see and do. The sheer pleasure of the Trevi fountain at night, walking up to the very top of the Spanish steps for the most amazing vista and taking a pew in the little church at the very top to sit quietly and reflect, is truly heart warming.
My favourite gallery is in the Borghese Gardens where you can take a tour and view the masterpiece of Bernini’s marble sculpture ‘the Rape of Proserpina’…..to see it is to believe it.
Lazio has borders with Umbria, Tuscany and Marche to the north, Abruzzo and Molise to the east, Campania to the south and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west. Because of it’s central location and amazing transport & train links with Trenitalia and Italo, this makes for easy and fairly inexpensive travelling to any of the other beautiful locations in Italy, and we do. This is what Italy is all about……it’s a feast for the eyes
From the ports of Rome, Terracina or Formia you can take a ferry to the Pontine islands in the archipelago off the western coast of Lazio. Ponza is the largest island in the group and we have been there several times over the years, sometimes only for a day trip with friends or family but really we prefer to stay over for at least one night.
The coastline is jagged with a mosaic of multicoloured rocky cliffs, shores dramatically peppered with caves and grottoes, hidden bays and little beaches, the most famous being Chiaia di Luna.
These sites are truly breathtaking even more so when the ferry rolls slowly into port, then the view of the buildings and hotels of Ponza town, prettily whitewashed and trimmed in the classic Mediterranean colours of pink and blue come into view! Everyone has their camera ready for great photo opportunities.
There is a laid back vibe on the island, lots of boutique style shops and many bars and restaurants with amazing seafood and spectacular views. You can sail your boat to the nearby islands, hire a boat for the day or the afternoon to sail around the island, snorkel and scuba dive or take the small ferry to the pebbly fun beach of Frontone. This island is a hidden gem and is special to my heart!
Lazio is home to Monte Cassino, the famous monastery with an ornate Cathedral and elegant Renaissance cloister, perched high on a hill overlooking the town of Cassino. History tells us that the 4 battles for the eventual capture of Monte Cassino during World War 11 in 1944 came at a high price. The Allies suffered heavy and severe casualties, with many thousands wounded and dead in the Monte Cassino Italian campaign.Join the Moving to Lazio Webinar
The Abbey was demolished and the town of Cassino was devastated during the battles however they have been beautifully restored. There is a museum, War Graves, Memorials and the cemeteries can be viewed from the Monastery. We were a party of 8 when we visited and at that time were lucky enough to hear the beautiful voices of the Choir of Monks singing and chanting. It was a special day and an amazing experience.
The climate of Lazio is normally pretty stable with long hot summers and cool winter months. Terracina itself has a micro climate, surrounded by hills all around the city which stretches along the cool coastal waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Here it can be tranquil for so many months of the year but the italian people appreciate the beauty of this city and head for the beautiful blu flag beaches of Terracina, as a holiday destination in the summer months.
The city is in fact modern and vibrant with a busy harbour for the local fishermen and the ferry services. The Centro Storico (the old town) is steeped in Roman history with a beautiful Cathedral and recently an amphitheatre has been discovered where excavation of the site continues.
A visit to the Tempio Di Giove, (the ruins of the ancient Temple of Jupiter) is definitely worth it.
The temple sits high on the hill overlooking Terracina and offers breath taking views as you walk slowly up.
In fact we haven’t really come across many actual expats in Terracina since we have come to live however we do have friends of different nationalities who have purchased derelict buildings and land on the surrounding hilly areas some years ago and over time they have restored and re modernised these properties and are now the proud owners of truly amazing and beautiful homes.
I’m sure you have heard of the Italian Bureaucracy and red tape and it can be very scary. We have found that if you learn a little of the italian language and be open to the welcoming people of the area in which you live you will make friends…..or you may already have made friends in Italy.
This will stand you in good stead as someone might know someone who’s help they can ask in order to help you. It’s happened to us several times and we like to say “ tuo molto gentile” with flowers and a bottle of prosecco. We have found that the Italian people, on the most part, are generous and very caring. Talking is their passion and they love to tell long animated stories full of laughter. It’s fun to be in their company but thankfully some of our friends are bilingual and are always willing to help with translations.
So life is good….life here is very good and I would be very sad if I ever had to leave my home here in Terracina in the region of Lazio, in Bella Italia!
Lucca from a tourist’s point of view:
Lucca is a Tuscan town located between Pisa and Florence (1.5 hours by train to Florence and 20 minutes by train to Pisa). Due to its untouched Renaissance-era city walls and exceptionally well-preserved historic center, Lucca is referred to as one of Italy’s “Città d’arte” (Art towns). It is an excellent choice because it is less touristic than some other Tuscan cities while being vibrant and cultural, especially during the height of summer. There are numerous museums, attractions, and outdoor activities, but this city is also great for chance bike rides and strolls. For this reason, Lucca has been regarded as the gem of Tuscany in the eyes of so many.
Everyday life in Lucca:
What you can do on a daily basis:
What I enjoy the most about Lucca is strolling aimlessly in the historic center and taking a walk on the city wall. I love the medieval architecture in the historic center because it feels like you will never learn enough about the city as there are just so many years of history to catch up with. On the walls, you have amazing views of the Tuscan mountains and can find multiple great spots to watch the sunset, have picnics, or work out in nature. Lucca is also home to many amazing museums, exhibitions, and has festivals all year round, including the biggest Comics festival in Europe (Lucca comics) that happens every year at the end of October.
Lucca is a small town where you can get to anywhere by walking within 25 minutes. Biking is also quite common and highly recommended. Some buses go through the city and connect the historic center with the outskirt, but I barely use them since I walk or bike to get around Lucca. To go to nearby cities and the seaside, trains are the most used transportation means. There are frequent trains to Pisa and Florence. From there it is very easy to travel around Italy. The closest beach (Viareggio) is also just 20 minutes by train. In general, trains are quite reliable (with occasional delays), and cheap. For mountain lovers, you will need a car, because there are no trains to take you to hiking places, and buses are very unreliable. In terms of taxis, there are many near the train station, but there is no company like Uber in Lucca.
As much as it is safe and rich, the cost of living in Lucca is quite high compared with nearby towns of the same size, or even Pisa. Lucca is one of the most expensive places in Italy. For example, a primo (first dish, usually pasta) at a restaurant costs 13 euros on average. For a small, non-world-famous town such as Lucca, that is quite expensive. That being said, there’s a noticeable difference between the cost of living in and outside the wall. You can save quite some money by just crossing the walls.
There are two public hospitals in Lucca, both outside the wall. One is right outside the wall, the other is 2-3 km away from the wall. Public healthcare is free or at most costs very little, as long as you subscribe to the national health system, but it takes time. For example, I had to wait for four months to get an appointment to have my wisdom tooth removed, but in total, I paid 35 euros. Since my operation was not urgent and I didn’t suffer while waiting, I don’t really complain. But for emergencies, you have to consider private healthcare (for the one that I consulted, it was 450 euros for the same operation, but it could be done in a week).
Meeting people and making friends
Italians are world-renowned for being extremely welcoming and helpful to foreigners. However, meeting locals in Lucca is not that easy. It is common to meet people on the street or at bars – locals would just come to talk to you and get to know you, even if you don’t seem to speak Italian perfectly. But Italy’s regions are so different – unfortunately, in Lucca, it is not the case. In fact, Lucchese people are known for being close-minded and conservative (of course this is a generalization. Depends on who you talk to, there are very nice local people too). There is unfortunately some discrimination against non-Italians. Since I arrived in Lucca during the pandemic, I definitely felt some severe hostility towards me as an Asian. My Californian friend was once yelled at on the street too. But that was only during the pandemic. Thankfully, we don’t have such experiences after the reopening.
It can be very frustrating when it comes to finding a job in Italy. And many people struggle with getting a work visa or finding a decent, legal work contract with benefits. I was lucky to find this call for Ph.D. during the pandemic by pure serendipity. Thanks to my Ph.D. institution, I’ve been enjoying a decent salary, free food, accommodation, and bureaucratic support from the administration office all the way from visa application to renewal of stay permit.
I have attached a link to my Ph.D. institution and the Ph.D. programs they offer, which is really an excellent opportunity to move to Italy and the lovely town of Lucca. My Ph.D. school (IMT Lucca) is a public research institution and is part of the Italian superior graduate school system. If you are interested in my Ph.D. topic (which I think is very relevant to expats), or find my post helpful, I would be eternally grateful if you could participate in my survey study!
About the Author
My name is Na, and I am originally from Nanjing, China. I moved to Europe in August 2019 for my master’s in Spain, then to Lucca, Italy in November 2020 (during the sheer second wave of the pandemic) for a Ph.D. in Business Economics. Unlike many Tuscany aficionados who have long dreamed of living in a lovely Tuscan town, moving to Lucca was totally not planned for me. My original plan after my master’s was to return to China and start a consultant career. However, we all know that the pandemic hit and my flight to go back got cancelled. Instead of desperately snapping up overpriced flight tickets, I decided to go with the flow and see what there for me in Europe. Then the paid Ph.D. position came to my notice. I have always been hoping to do a Ph.D. on a topic that I am really interested in. So I submitted my research proposal on investigating the effect of technology on wellbeing at work and eventually got accepted. I then started my bitter-sweet Ph.D. journey in Lucca.
For any questions relevant to this post, you can contact me via [email protected].
IMT Lucca: https://www.imtlucca.it/en
Ph.D. program: https://www.imtlucca.it/en/programma-dottorato/overview
Survey link: https://imtllucca.fra1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0wGEPJCxLzYSIHs
For me, the beauty of Le Marche lies in its position wedged between the lush green Apennines and the turquoise Adriatic. It is a varied region with historical stone hill villages with tremendous views, the spectacular Sibilini range with short distances to the sea and dramatic the coastline.
Our peaceful home lies on the outskirts of a village called Loro Piceno and a convenient hour drive from the Marche capitol Ancona. Flying into Falconara Airport is always an exciting proposition as we can never decide where to stop off before heading home.
Will it be lunch, shopping in the classy boutiques of Senigalia with a quick relax on the beach? Or a more tranquil beach excursion to Sirolo and the Conero riviera, with its white pebble beaches flanked by creamy coloured cliffs and pine forest… and lunch, of course…
Driving past the many vineyards and a sea of sunflower fields, a stunning sight between the months of June and September, feels like a scene from the ‘Gladiator’ movie in the scorching heat. Cyprus trees and olive groves scatter the hillsides. Heading off the motorway we pass Macerata, an architecturally fascinating university town with large buzzing squares, surrounded by picturesque country side, famous for its open-air Opera house, reputed better and larger than the one in Verona.
Nearly home, but we can never resist stopping at our oasis, the Abbey of Fiastra, one of the finest preserved Cistercian abbeys in Italy. Set in an expansive nature reserve with a museum, monastery and beautiful walks amongst the mulberry trees, a quick gelato or in the evenings, a flavoursome meal of delicious homemade pizzas washed down with a fruity local vino rosso. As you can tell, food is a constant theme..
Passing Saputi vineyard is another delight, growing organic wines set on a 28-hectare estate. With regular wine-tasting events held for locals and tourists there’s always something available to delight the palate. The territory is composed of hills and mountains to one side and runs to the shores of the Adriatic coast on the other, making it a perfect stop off for hikers and cycling enthusiasts too.
Nearly home! Really….
We wave at The Archaeological Park of Urbs Salvia as we drive along the via Adriatica . It was once a 40-hectare Roman city; still clearly visible are the remains of a theatre, reservoir, temple, city walls and up to five metres high in some points, is the Amphitheatre, built by Lucio Flavio Silva Nonio Basso, at the end of the 1st century. Such was his fame, the great actor Peter O’Toole played him in a US TV production which went on to earn him an Emmy for the role!
If you have never come across the local drink a ‘vino cotto’, a sweet cooked wine, the many summer festivals in the region are the perfect opportunity to sample the diverse food and drink delicacies the region has to offer. Buon appetito!
Apulia- Renee Lawrence
Apulia, commonly referred to as ‘the heel of the Italian boot’ lays on the most eastern point of Italy, with the Adriatic Sea to the East and the Ionian Sea in the South. It is an area that it often overlooked for more popular tourist regions and in fact, still feels untouched in many ways. It has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers, little rain, and mild winters.
Summers are pleasant by the sea, with only a couple of weeks of excessive heat, but an average of 28 degrees. Winters have a lot of sunny days and there is only a dusting of snow for a couple of days of the season. With a generous coastline, Puglia is home to some of the most desirable beaches in the region.
There are two main airports to fly in to Puglia (Bari and Brindisi) and a rail line that runs up the Adriatic coast making it easy to arrive to the coastal towns of Puglia to the southern tip of Lecce. Getting to the interior of Puglia is much trickier- the lack of infrastructure is frighteningly evident. It is a vast region with lots of small towns and a variety of beaches, mostly far apart from each other, making having your own car an absolute must.
You can trust that you’ll eat well in the stiletto heel of Italy. Led by local produce, it is the birthplace of may unique Italian foods and this is reflected in its simple, fresh cuisine. Famous are the tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, figs, citrus, melons, all ripening under that southern sun, and the region is a major producer of oil (providing around 40% of the country’s olive oil).
Add in orecchiette, burrata and an abundance of fresh seafood- a foodie’s dream! Fruit and vegetable prices at local markets are incredibly reasonable and on certain days of the week each town has their street market where you can buy a wide range of household items, clothing and local produce at excellent low-cost prices.
The surprise for many is that the overall cost of living is low in Puglia. Real estate can be affordable, with homes to buy starting at around just €50,000. Of course, larger houses, country villas, seaside homes and homes with land come with higher price tags, but deals can be found.
If you are prepared to do a renovations project it is possible to buy a small trullo or villa securing the perfect location at a lower cost, but you will find yourself in new territory in Puglia, with limited time, a language barrier and no way of assessing a contractor’s credentials.
Dining out is relatively inexpensive. An aperitif in an outside café or trendy bar will set you back just 3 or 4 euros with local produce (usually olives and taralli), while a cappuccino will cost you around €1.20.
A pizza dinner for two could set you back €15 but there are also higher end restaurants specialising in local seafood which can be pricier. In essence, Puglia can be as affordable as you want it to be.
Unless you are retired, or have a job teaching English (in a school or privately), work is seasonal and not as easy to find when comparing to more Northern regions in Italy- a reason that many young, southern Italians migrate to the North.
In Summer, casual beach/bar related jobs on the coast are popular, and September through November are harvesting months so it is possible to find opportunities helping with harvests. From November onwards there are even fewer jobs unless you are closer to the main towns.
There are hundreds of attractive towns and cities to live, but here are a couple of the highlights.
Lecce is the cultural capital of Puglia that some people say is “The Florence of the South” with loads of monuments, churches, palaces and museums. Full of baroque embellishments, a vibrant city with everything you could possibly need- it’s impossible not to love Lecce, and impossible not to try the famous sweet “pasticciotto”.
The Valle d’Itria is a low hilly landscape southwest of Bari. Full of olive trees and vineyards, with many towns in between you can find Ostuni and Martina Franca, tranquil towns to immerse yourself in the southern countryside, but only a short car ride to the sea. Here you will see the landscape speckled with trulli, traditional homes with conical roofs unique to this area. You’ll see them everywhere but especially around Alberobello.
The southern Italians are known for being very hospitable, so it is easy to make friends and quickly feel at home. Some Italians speak English, but not all and definitely not in the smaller towns, so it helps to learn the language so you can more easily communicate with your new friends.
Puglia retains its emphasis on traditions and their way of life. Vivacious, outgoing and laidback, if you can make your way around the frustrating infrastructure and can find yourself a job to keep you busy, there are endless facets to love about Puglia. The people here know how to live; it must be the sunshine, the food and the wine that makes them so friendly!
If you’re only passing through Emilia Romagna, you must absolutely visit the magnificent city of Ravenna.
It has a glorious past and a present to be rediscovered.
We are talking about a city that has been the capital of an Empire for three times and has hosted Unesco eight times.
Obviously, if you spend a day in Ravenna you must visit the The Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo where you can admire magnificent mosaics or the building of San Francesco. Last but not least, the Dantesco Museum pertaining the tomb of the Poet.
The Adriatic Coast
Lastly, the most favourite destination for young people: The Coast.
First and foremost, Rimini. The city where the first Italian seaside resort was born. Together with Riccione, they are the heart of the Romagnolo seaside tourism.
Here, you can relax on the beach and have all types of comforts at your disposal. In this way, you can appreciate the strong point of the Romagnola Coast: its night life.
With cocktails overlooking the sea, bars on the beach and exclusive discotheques, fun is guaranteed; a true Romagnolo cannot miss an appointment for a cocktail at the number 71 beach club in Riccione where you can sip excellent drinks and organize your evening with friends at the most famous discotheque, Villa della Rose.
One very early Wednesday morning in September 2020 I arrived in Florence from London. I took the tram to the station and after waving goodbye to the handsome tram driver, who had kindly and patiently waited for me at the airport while I struggled with the ticket machine, I proceeded to pull my large case through the old streets from the station to the Oltarno district, where I had booked a room for one month.
It was a light-filled room with a view overlooking the Piazza Pitti and the Palazzo and my plan to stay for only 4 weeks, ground myself, plan, explore this famous city that I had never visited before and then leave for the country to deepen my Tuscan adventure.
I am a photographer, so the idea I arrived with was to photograph the artisans, and artists of the region. Tuscany is a place of dreams I felt, I had witnessed it through photographs and movies, the rolling hills and morning hazes which to me were an invitation to dream. So, on that September morning my Tuscan adventure began.
It was still hot, the beginning of the end of the summer but after the year that we had all had, it felt almost like a soft and hopeful new beginning, certainly for me. Tourists, many less than normal, had arrived, and looked very much like they were enjoying the city, water mists cooled hot diners on the crowded piazzas and there was a feeling of waking from a dream or perhaps falling into one.
I walked around just taking it all in and had my daily view of the sunset from the Ponte Vecchio, only 5 minutes from home. I quickly gravitated towards the Uffizi and made friends with an artist there who became my first Florentine friend and a lovely sense of freedom began to unfold. Of course, the presence of the tourists, even though less than normal, was still a lot but it was the art that gave the highest vibration of the city.
The architecture and the history every day offered a new vision to take it deeper and all that alongside the buds of the new art coming to life. The ancient sculptures, the Madonnas framed on street corners, the graffiti and the stencil art all offering their voices, sitting side by side. It was an enriching experience and one that I would spend many weeks trying to absorb and still do.
So, I started to settle and was given the honour of being invited to join my Florentine friend and his friends for lunches at their local trattoria in Centro. This was good for my italian as well as for my sense of community and was an important step. The adventure was underway, and I started to feel at home.
The month passed and I extended my time in the Oltrarno to a second month as I wasn’t ready to leave, an adventure was unfolding. Then, towards the end of October the news came that the region and most of Italy was going back into lockdown. I sat on The Loggia of the Palazzo Guadagni, which had become my happy place, where I had grounded myself on those first days in the city, watching the sunset.
The next day the cafes and bars were closed by 5pm, then soon afterwards they would close all day and there I was locked down in Florence. I remained there for the next 3 months watching Florence from my room, an empty Piazza and birds flying over the Palazzo to the comforting sound of the bells 6 times every day from the Duomo. I found that it was the most perfect way to hear the bells, just far enough away. So, my 4 weeks in Florence became 6 months and during this time I walked around empty streets, photographing Florence as we may never see it again.
Vasari’s Corridor sat empty in the afternoon sun and outside the Palazzo Vecchio, Hercules looked over a deserted piazza. There were armed soldiers guarding all the palazzos and they smiled when I walked by. I spent my birthday and Christmas alone but I didn’t feel very alone at all, it felt like the city held me and was somehow saying ‘its ok, don’t worry, you can stay, we will still give you nice sunsets and you won’t need to queue at the supermarket.’ It was true, I didn’t worry or queue at the supermarket and on Christmas day the sunset came as it did most days and the lights of the Christmas tree sparkled with an even deeper sense of magic in that moment. Come the spring,
I was finally able to travel out of the city and left Florence on a train heading south, witnessing the beauty of Tuscany passing by one rolling hill after another. I was travelling to Calabria to begin a project about the traditions of Italy, staying there for a few months, but was soon back in Tuscany to start the restoration work on an old 18th century villa right in the heart of the Chianti region that I had decided would be home.
There I had found a sense of an old story awaiting to hold me whilst at the same time offering an invitation to tell my own story and be part of theirs, so without a thought it became home. The dream of Tuscany is very real and the way you see it in the photographs and movies is very much the reality, these views are not filtered it just happens this way.
Asides from the visual beauty, Tuscany is also like a precious invitation from an old friend. When you visit, even if only for a few days or a week, you may be invited to stay longer and many, like me, will do just that. You can leave any time, but it will never leave you.
The Allure of Bagno Vignoni
1. Picturesque Landscapes
Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, Bagno Vignoni offers breathtaking landscapes that seem right out of a postcard. Rolling hills adorned with vineyards and olive groves surround this quaint village, making it a visual treat for nature enthusiasts.
2. Thermal Baths and Spas
Bagno Vignoni is famous for its natural thermal baths and spas. The healing properties of these waters have attracted visitors for centuries. As an expat, you can enjoy these therapeutic baths right at your doorstep.
3. Rich History and Culture
Tuscany is steeped in history, and Bagno Vignoni is no exception. The village boasts historical sites, such as the old mill and the Bagno Vignoni thermal pool, dating back to the Roman era. Immersing yourself in this rich culture is an everyday experience.
4. Culinary Delights
Italian cuisine is celebrated worldwide, and in Bagno Vignoni, you can savor the authentic flavors of Tuscany. From hand-rolled pasta to locally-produced wines, the village offers a gastronomic journey like no other.
We fell in love with Umbria on the first day we arrived. The nature, the food and wine, the people, the music, the lake – all of it together made Umbria for us a perfect place to live.
Umbria is called the Green Heart of Italy and I can quite surely say that is all this and much more.
It is one of the smallest regions in Italy, and its landscape is characterized by hills full of olive trees, vineyards, and woods.
Umbria is the region of olive oil, salami, lentils, truffles, chocolate, and honey – and its restaurants delight in making the most of the local produce. Umbria has a proud winemaking tradition.
There could be so many things to tell about Umbria, but to sum all up here is why it is a perfect place to live for us:
The amazing landscape
Umbria is covered in green hills cloaked in ancient vineyards and olive groves. Small historical villages almost on top of every hill, narrow roads, a lot of trees and greenery all around. Outside the city of Terni are the spectacular double cascading Marmore Falls. Built by the Romans around 271 BCE – a sight you do not want to miss.
The largest lake in Umbria and Italy’s biggest non-alpine lake, Trasimeno is home to three islands, Isola Maggiore, Isola Minore and Isola Polvese. Isola Polvese hosts an amazing nature park, established in 1995, it offers hiking trails that pass ancient fortresses, old churches, and Roman ruins.
It is enough just to take a ride through Umbrian countryside – go up and down the hill on the small curvy roads to fully fall in love with the place. Take a bicycle ride around lake Trasimeno combined with some bird watching or rent a boat and go out to experience the lake Trasimeno at full.
The art, music, and history
For us Umbria is all about the music. Each July, musicians and fans from all over the world descend on Perugia for the highly anticipated summer jazz festival. Past performers include the likes of Elton John, Tony Bennett and B.B. King. Orvieto’s cold-weather iteration, Umbria Jazz Winter, takes place the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Then, on Capodanno (New Year’s Day), secure a seat in the Duomo to experience something you don’t see every day: a Roman Catholic mass with hymns sung by an American gospel choir.
If you are keen to experience slow life in the hill side towns head to Perugia, Orvieto, Gubbio, Todi, Spoleto. Or visit even smaller centres, such as Montefalco, Bevagna, Spello, Trevi, Bettona, Città di Castello, Città della Pieve, Montone, Monte Santa Maria Tiberina and more.
And not to forget Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis – it is home to one of the most impressive churches in all of Italy. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the basilica contains frescoes by Giotto and other master artists of the time. Construction began on the Franciscan holy place in 1228 and was completed 25 years later. Unique for its upper and lower churches and stunning Gothic façade, each year millions of pilgrims visit the tomb of Saint Francis located in the lower sanctuary.
The amazing food and wine that you can experience here
Umbrian cooking is heavy on meat and game, as well as on big flavors such as truffles and porcini mushrooms. In Umbria you can eat fresh truffle all the year round, its woods are full of them. In the summer taste the black truffle, less scented than the white one, but excellent for bruschetta or for a large dish of Strangozzi. In autumn try the precious white truffle with a heady scent, excellent on the top of a dish of Tagliatelle.
In addition to the truffle, taste
Salami and cheeses made according to old traditions,
The extra virgin olive oil, still produced in mills with millstones,
The Porchetta, the roasted pork always present in every market and local feast,
Handmade pasta made with a rolling pin,
Rich sauces such as the goose one, especially made on Ferragosto.
Each Umbrian village or town has its typical dishes or products so take time to explore them.
Umbrian wines are exclusive, the Sagrantino di Montefalco is the rarest and most famous Umbrian wine in the world. It is made only from 100% Sagrantino grapes from Montefalco: the microclimate gives a peculiar flavor to these grapes. A full-bodied wine to drink together with red or roasted meat and rich sauces.
Also discover the Rosso di Montefalco, made from Sagrantino and Sangiovese grapes, and the excellent white wines from Lake Trasimeno area such as the Grechetto or the Orvieto classico, from Orvieto vineyards.
The affordable and comfortable life
The region is characterized by villages that have remained intact and authentic, but still offer a full range of services for citizens. The towns are also on a human scale. The buildings have good quality architecture in both new construction and in renovations, with much attention given to green technology, a lot of attention is dedicated to keep the environment clean and avoid unnecessary waste.
Everything in Umbria is generally cheaper than in Tuscany. You can enjoy La Dolce Vita country-style at the dining table of an Umbrian vineyard, eating white truffle pasta washed down with a nicely aged Sagrantino for half the price of the same in Florence. And the prices of the property to buy or rent are also significantly lower than in Tuscany, yet the quality of life is on the same level.
The slow life
Research published in “Il sole 24 ore”, the most important economic Italian newspaper, has revealed that the Italian region where people live more happily is Umbria. Slow life rhythms are healthier, reduce stress and let you enjoy the daily little things. The landscape and culture are combined with a high life expectancy (it is one of the longest-lived regions of Italy) and help to reduce daily stress. In Umbria you don’t go at great speed: you move at a slower pace.
We chose to live in Castiglione del Lago – the biggest city by the lake Trasimeno. They say that historically it was the fourth island on lake Trasimeno, but with the time the gap between the island and mainland was filled with houses, churches, and other buildings. It is a city of nearly 15 000 inhabitants, a small regional center providing all conveniences needed – several supermarkets, many smaller shops, hospital, schools, sports trainings, musical school and many more.
An amazing lake scenery is the best thing to see and experience in Castiglione del Lago. Several kilometers long coastline offers spectacular mountain views, amazing sunsets and sunrises, fun evenings out in the many cafes and restaurants.
In the old historical city center that is exceptionally well preserved, you need to visit the Rocca del Leone – Fortress of the Lion that was completed in 1247 CE. The castle features square towers in four of its corners and a triangular shaped bastion. The castle was designed to give its owners strategic control over all of Lake Trasimeno. The castle has withstood several sieges over the subsequent centuries.
The Palazzo della Corgna which serves as the Palazzo del Comune (Town Hall) was built by Ascanio della Corgna in Renaissance style, designed by the architect Vignola. It is now a civic museum and gallery. The palazzo has a long, covered corridor connecting to the castle. On the main floor, late Renaissance era frescoes were painted by the Pescaro-born artist Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi and the Florentine artist Salvio Savini. In 1574, the artist Niccolò Circignani, known as “Il Pomarancio”, added paintings and other decorations to one of the most interesting rooms in the palazzo, the so-called Room of the Exploits of the overlord Ascanio della Corgna.
The Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, done on a Greek-cross plan, is also located in the historical part of the city. The church has a neo-classical pronaos and, inside, a panel painted in 1580 by Eusebio da San Giorgio.
The slow life in the city is combined with shopping tours in the local market every Wednesday, amazing food in the local restaurants and, of course, the wine of Umbria. On top of that the most kind, simple and welcoming people that live in the city and help us feel welcomed here.
Visit Umbria to enjoy the beautiful, tasty, and blooming life of Italy!