Italy’s cities have been drawing Britons since the days of the Grand Tour. Sitting out in a café on a historic plaza, surrounded by beautiful renaissance architecture, the sun shining even in winter – what more could you want? But with so many iconic cities up and down the country, how on earth do you choose? This week, we’re looking at the best Italian cities that hit the mark for both affordability and livability.
This ancient city is ideal for anyone looking for manageable size, but still plenty of ‘buzz’. Its city centre is pedestrianised, so you can enjoy lazy days wandering around its squares, cafés, boutiques and bars. In the summer, the activity relocates to the Marina Roma and Marina di Ravenna, as well as the main streets of Via XXX Novembre and Piazza Kennedy in the centre. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the centre. Its basilica’s gorgeous mosaics were described by none other than Dante as ‘a symphony of colour’ for their extraordinary combination of sapphire, gold and emerald hues.
Average property price: €1,806/m2
Verona was immortalised in the Anglophone world by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. The expansive Piazza delle Erbe is a good starting point to explore the city, and you’ll find yourself coming across Roman remains left, right and centre. The city enjoys a pleasant, although humid, climate, with temperatures in the summer hovering in the high twenties and around 7ºC in winter. The surrounding region has to be one of the best in Italy, with Lake Garda, the rolling hills of the Veneto and, of course, Venice all within easy reach.
Average property price: €1964/m2
Mantua enjoys an extremely high quality of life and has won a number of awards for the quality of its environment. It enjoys a reputation as a town of books, running the Festivaletteratura (literary festival) every year. The city itself is relatively small, with life centred around the Erbe and Sordello squares. The surrounding lakes have helped stop sprawl – so you can walk across the centre in about thirty minutes. In a way, it’s an overlooked city, nicknamed the Sleeping Beauty, and the good news there is that prices are affordable for northern Italian cities.
Average property prices: €1,729/m2
Heading much further south to sun-kissed Puglia/Apulia, we find the beautiful ‘white city’ of Ostuni. Known for its distinctive trulli – roundhouses with cone-shaped roofs – it’s a perennial favourite among Italian cities for British property buyers. Despite its beauty, the year-round sun and laid-back way of life, property is eminently affordable. Even a large trullo can sell for €300,000.
Average property price: €1,595/m2
The jewel of Sicily is a baroque wonder, with grand churches and boulevards leading through to small, maze-like sidestreets with fantastic, cheap restaurants. For beach bunnies, the Mondello beach is one of the best in Sicily: for football fanatics, the city is home to the Stadio Renza Barbera.
Average property price: €1,372/m2
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