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What Are the Top 5 Cities to Retire in Italy?

Author: Andrew Smith

If you're an urbanite and you're considering retiring in Italy, try not to get too distracted by those lovely images of rolling countryside. Unless you're really into rural life, you could soon feel isolated, aimless and, frankly, bored stiff. Why not take advantage of all that Italy's cities have to offer?

Bright Lights, Big City
  • Florence remains one of the world's loveliest and most civilized cities. Its compact center makes it eminently walkable, with astonishing sights at every turn. The food is unbelievably good, except for the bread, which is never salted for reasons dating back to the Middle Ages. There was either a war or a salt tax. No one seems sure which. An apartment can be purchased for about $300 per square foot on the outskirts of Florence, or about $400 per square foot in the city center. A one-bedroom apartment rental averages $585 to $735 a month, with apartments in the city center hitting the higher end of the range.

  • Rome is eternally vast, grand, noisy, grubby and fabulous. If your lifestyle demands a world-class cultural capital, Rome is for you. Average apartment prices range from about $415 to $885 per square foot. Buyers who demand American-style luxury (and a city center location) will be looking at the upper end of that range. Picturesque properties in Rome may lack central heating, never mind air-conditioning. If you're planning to rent, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center will run you an average $1,150 a month; on the outskirts $760.

  • Why not Venice? Because this is your retirement home. Venice is often cold and always damp, and it's sinking, too. Visit Venice, by all means. Retire there? Maybe not.
The Italian Riviera
  • San Remo, with a population of about 57,000, has been drawing sun worshippers since ancient Roman times. Its location on the Mediterranean is spectacular in its own right. But it also is a convenient base for exploring, with excellent rail service to Monaco and the French coast as well as to Genoa, Milan and Rome. Smaller towns nearby, including Bordighera, also are popular with expats.
The ‘Next Umbria'
  • Urbino is a lovely little walled city that graces the region of Le Marche, which many expats have pronounced the next Umbria. That means it's the region that expats are now discovering as an alternative to Umbria, which was an alternative to Tuscany, which long ago became overpriced and overcrowded with expats. The center of Urbino has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of Renaissance architecture. Average real estate prices are not available, though there's a pretty awesome palazzo in a nearby hamlet, priced at about $1.5 million. Restored Renaissance ceiling frescoes included.
Southern Comfort
  • Naples is the third largest city in Italy, and it's as fabulous and as grubby as Rome; maybe more so, but with milder winters. Naples has got world-class opera, Southern Italian cuisine to die for, over-the-top Baroque architecture and a wealth of archeological treasures. All this, and a seaside promenade with views of Mount Vesuvius. Prices in Naples, as in most of southern Italy, are significantly lower than in the north. An apartment can be purchased for an average $195 outside the city to $405 per square foot in central Naples. A one-bedroom rental averages $450 a month outside of town, or $810 in the city center.
The Bottom Line

For some of us, retirement does not mean retreat. If you want to take advantage of all that Italy has to offer, consider making your home in one of its cities. For more on planning retirement in Italy, see How Much Money Do You Need to Retire in Italy? and Can You Retire In Italy With $200,000 of Savings? And find further suggestions for destinations in The Top Regions For Retirement In Italy.

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