In recent years the number of foreign investors who have purchased property in Italy has risen significantly. The Italian real estate market has always attracted foreign investors due to its variety of choice and competitive prices, but the question is: where about in Italy should you buy property? Undoubtedly, Italy offers a great variety of properties both in big vibrant cities as well as in small towns with charming historical city centers. Arguably, the geographical area where the property is located – be it in the south or in the north of Italy, in the mountains, in the hills or on the coast – will be an indicator of a city’s lifestyle, quality of living, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, personal security and education. Drawing from this, it will be the aim of this article to provide you with a better understanding of some of the main differences between living in big cities and in small towns in Italy.

Lifestyle in big cities

Many foreigners are fascinated by big cities such as Rome, which has been defined The Eternal City due to its breathtaking historical monuments, stunning architecture and its more than 2500 years of history. Similarly, Florence, Venice and Milan are among some of the cities which are famous internationally; therefore, if you are interested in living in these cities, and especially near the city centers, please note that they will be buzzing with tourists. Cities in the north of Italy like Milan not only attract tourists but also people from within Italy due to the job opportunities that the city offers. The overall cost of living in the north of Italy is significantly higher than in the south, therefore wages in the north of Italy tend to be higher. Properties are also more expensive. The average cost for a brand-new property in the heart of some of the cities mentioned above is around 6.000 €/sqm whereas in the outskirts the average cost is approximately 3.000 €/sqm depending on the area. Nevertheless, there are big cities in the south of Italy such as Rome or Naples, for instance, where the cost of living is rather high and therefore property prices tend to be significantly higher than in other cities in the south.

Some people enjoy living in big cities due to the entertainment, attractions, shops and services they offer. Venice, for instance, organizes a carnival every year that attracts thousands of tourists who arrive in the city to enjoy the parade and the masks, an important feature of the Venetian carnival. Indeed, creating masks is an art and a tradition which dates back hundreds of years. On the other hand, Milan usually hosts many international exhibitions and fairs such as the Milan Furniture Fair or Milano Fashion Week, which occurs twice a year during the months of February and September. During this event there are more than 70 fashion shows and 90 catwalks shows through which designers from all over the world present their creations to an international audience. Another advantage of living in a big city is that public transport is efficient thus you can move from one side of the city to another by using buses, trams or the underground. 

Lifestyle in small towns

Living in small towns generally means a slower and more relaxed lifestyle. As a matter of fact, many people decide to live in smaller towns to pursue a healthier lifestyle away from crowded city centers and constant traffic and air pollution. Generally speaking, relationships with neighbors and fellow citizens are closer, especially in very small towns where everybody knows each other. Moreover, small towns do not have big shopping centers but smaller shops like bakeries, flower shops, barber shops, which are usually local family-run businesses. Every town  (and neighborhood in big cities) in Italy also organizes an open-air market once a week (usually in the mornings) where you can find clothes, food and home items. Among some of the nicest small towns in Italy are Modena, Gubbio, Arezzo, Belluno, which is close to the mountains, and medium to small cities like La Spezia, Tropea or Lecce which instead are close to the seaside, and Riva Del Garda and Bellagio which are close to Lake Garda and Lake Como respectively.

It goes without saying that properties in smaller towns tend to be cheaper than in big cities. However, you should keep in mind that regions like Tuscany can be rather expensive, especially around Florence, Siena and the Chianti region where the average cost for new properties ranges from 1.800 €/sqm to 2.300 €/sqm. It is also worth searching for properties in other regions such as Marche, Abruzzo and Umbria where the average cost for a property is approximately 1.000 €/sqm to 1.180€/sqm and you might find affordable properties in very nice areas. On the other hand, public transport in small towns is not always as efficient as in big cities, nevertheless the Italian railway system is one of the most important parts of the infrastructure of Italy and you can easily move from one city to another by train.

Entertainment in smaller cities usually comes in the form of traditional food festivals (sagre) which are organized all year round. Here you can taste traditional dishes, listen to traditional music and dance. The town of Ariccia, for instance, is famous for its Porchetta food festival where you can taste the typical porchetta (a boneless pork roast). An important feature of small towns which is worth mentioning is religion. Many towns hold annual religious celebrations such as processions to celebrate the town’s patron saint. A famous one is the procession of Saint Nicholas in Bari for instance. Other interesting events especially in medieval towns are historical reenactments which involve different neighborhoods (contrade) in a number of competitions such as archery and horse races. One of the most famous is the Palio di Siena, a horse race which is held in Siena twice a year.

Despite these differences there are some common features that characterize both living in big cities and in small towns in Italy which include an excellent cuisine, fascinating cultural celebrations, breathtaking architecture and history.

To conclude, if you decide to purchase a property in Italy you will be spoiled for choice!  If you would like further information about purchasing a property in Italy, feel free to contact us at for a free consultation. We will be happy to assist you!

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