Italy is a popular retirement destination for expats, and the Italian government is keen to attract retirees to help boost their economy. No matter what your budget or lifestyle preferences are, you’re sure to find a beautiful region to settle down in.
These are the best places in Italy to retire to:
- Le Marche
Those looking for a comfortable retirement experience surrounded by gorgeous scenery full of history, culture, delicious food, and plenty of wine, would adore Italy. In this article, I’ll take you through the best Italian regions for retirees and the qualities that make them an excellent destination for expats. Regardless of your lifestyle preferences, you’re sure to find a place that’s perfect for you to enjoy your golden years.
Of Italy’s twenty regions, Lombardy is one of the most attractive locations for expats. With a population of roughly 10 million people, it’s the country’s most populated region and makes up approximately one-sixth of Italy’s population.
Lombardy is situated at the very top of Italy’s “boot” and borders Switzerland. Not only is it the most populous region, but it is also the wealthiest. If you want to retire in style and luxury, look no further!
Milan (Milano), the region’s capital, is a global hub for fashion, design, finance, and culture. It is one of the fashion capitals of the world. You may be familiar with Milan Fashion Week – a world-famous clothing trade show that is held twice a year.
Milan is not just known for haute couture, though. Being the country’s primary economic hub (with a favorable position for trade), the city boasts high-end luxury stores and Italy’s national stock exchange. You’ll be living the high life by retiring in Milan.
If you’re seeking some outdoorsy adventures during your retirement years, you should consider settling in the town of Como, located north of Milan. The very north of Lombardy offers gorgeous mountains and ski resorts at your doorstep.
Not only is Como situated close to the Alps and the gorgeous Lake Como, but it is just across the border from Switzerland. Swiss influences are evident in Como’s architecture, for example. And choosing to retire in Como would allow you to travel to other European countries easily.
This quaint and picturesque town is also located in the Alpine region of northern Italy. With cobblestone streets and a medieval citadel perched atop a hill, this town is surrounded by Venetian walls. It is also quite close to both Como and Milan.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Lombardy
You will be spoiled for choice if you retire to this wealthy, northern region of Italy. Consisting of 12 provinces, Lombardy has gorgeous mountains to the north, with plains and foothills to the south.
- Culture. Lombardy could be attractive to those who thrive in a fast-paced, modern environment. Being the wealthiest region in Italy, you can expect the locals to be business-focused, as they embody a “live hard, play hard” mindset. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle.
- Cost of Living. According to LivingCost.org, Lombardy is the second most expensive Italian region to move to. Check out: Cost of Living in Lombardy. Milan is the costliest Italian city for expats (included in the top 13% of most expensive cities worldwide).
- Expat Community. Lombardy is home to the greatest number of expats in the country (approximately 1.2 million as of 2020). You’ll be sure to find plenty of other foreign retirees here.
- Climate. Lombardy is affected by a wide range of climates. It is primarily humid subtropical (especially in the plains). The foothills have a more oceanic environment. On the other hand, the hills and mountains have more of a humid continental climate.
One of the most famous Italian lands for good reasons, Tuscany is in many ways the embodiment of everything beautiful about the country. This centrally located region is deemed the “Cradle of the Renaissance,” with Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Galileo Galilei, all born in Tuscany.
The Tuscan region is also the birthplace of the Italian language. According to Trips 2 Italy, the locals (Toscani) cherish the simple joys in life: “a splendid glass of wine, a simple yet elegant meal, the views of a beautifully rolling countryside,” etc.
The locals are known for their warm hospitality, love of family, and celebrating la dolce vita. Wherever you settle in Tuscany you will be immersed in a rich cultural and historical heritage.
And for the wine aficionados, Tuscany’s wine production is world-famous. Talk about the quintessential Italian life! You’ll spend your retirement years basking in Italian culture should you move to Tuscany.
Known in Italy as Firenze, the Tuscan capital boasts the history, architecture, museums, art galleries, wining and dining, and other cultural assets which make Italy so beloved by tourists and expats.
With illustrations of the city dating back to the fourteenth century, you will live immersed in a rich historical legacy if you choose to retire here.
The historic, Florentine town center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Florence has been dubbed by academics as the “birthplace of the Renaissance” and by Forbes as “the most beautiful city in the world” in 2010. Florence is also the fourth most prosperous Italian city.
Like Milan, Florence is home to many expats.
Situated northwest of Tuscany and running alongside the Arno River, Pisa is most famous for its Leaning Tower and its Renaissance and Medieval architecture. Being a smaller town than Florence, Pisa has a more laid-back atmosphere.
Therefore, retirees looking for some peace and quiet may find Pisa a better option than its fast-paced counterpart.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Tuscany
If you choose to retire in Tuscany, you will surely be spoiled with the wonderful and relaxing life, la dolce vita. Read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (available on Amazon.com) for further inspiration. Written by an American expat, this lovely memoir features vivid descriptions of life in Tuscany.
- Culture. Tuscany offers you a slower-paced lifestyle than bustling Lombardy. Locals relish their meals and family time, taking the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
- Cost of Living. This Italian region is the fourth most expensive to live in. Florence is the tenth most expensive city in the country.
- Expat Community. Tuscany is quite popular with expats. Many settle in larger cities such as Florence. And there are millions of visitors to Tuscany every year.
- Climate. The region’s climate is mild in the coastal areas but rainier and harsher the further inland you live.
If you’re seeking island life in your golden years, Sicily is a great choice. It’s the largest Mediterranean island and is located at the very tip of Italy’s “boot.” Furthermore, although they share many similarities, Sicilian culture is rather distinct from mainland Italian culture.
Although locals speak Italian (with a distinct accent), you may also come across the region’s unique Sicilian language (which is neither a dialect nor a variant of Italian). Also, bear in mind that the mafia is still active in the western part of Sicily.
Sicilians are well-known for their home-grown produce and seafood and for their one-of-a-kind culture (influenced by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, Normans, Romans, British, and French – to name a few!).
With over 2,700 years of history, Palermo is the capital of Sicily. The metropolitan area is home to over 1 million people and is the cultural, economic, and tourism hub of the island. Palermo hosts colorful fruit, vegetable, and fish markets that draw a large crowd.
As an English-speaking expat, you may prefer to settle in a larger Sicilian town, such as Palermo. English is less frequently spoken in smaller towns on the island.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Sicily
The leisurely lifestyle and affordable living costs make Sicily attractive for expat retirees. You can truly kick back, relax, and soak up the sun on one of Sicily’s many breathtaking beaches. And for history buffs, you’ll be fascinated by the island’s archaeological treasures.
- Culture. The unique Sicilian culture is a blend of many external influences. Most Sicilians are generally laid back with close ties to family. Religious festivals are important too.
- Cost of Living. If you are seeking a more budget-friendly Italian area to reside in, Sicily could be an excellent choice for you. It is ranked as the sixteenth most expensive region and is cheaper than most areas in the UK.
- Expat Community. Most English-speaking expats reside in larger cities.
- Climate. The island has a typical Mediterranean climate. You can expect dry, hot summers and wet and mild winters.
Also known by its Italian name of Puglia, Apulia is another exceptional option for your retirement. Like Sicily, it boasts gorgeous coastlines and beaches and is a cheaper option than Lombardy or Tuscany.
For ocean enthusiasts, Apulia has the longest coastline of any mainland Italian region. You’ll quickly fall in love with the quaint, whitewashed buildings and seaside living along the Adriatic Sea. And for the nature-lovers, the region has two famous national parks to explore.
Additionally, if you love ancient history, you’ll be happy to know that Apulia is one of Italy’s richest archaeological areas (along with Sicily).
Bari, the capital of Apulia, is situated on the stunning Adriatic Sea and is the second-largest town in southern Italy. This charming port city is home to narrow alleys, turquoise beaches, and a maze-like old town. The metropolitan area has over 1 million residents.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Apulia
As with Sicily, by relocating to Apulia, you can get a lot of bang for your buck while basking in a sunny and chilled Mediterranean atmosphere. If you’re looking for a seaside location that’s not as busy with tourists, Apulia could be the choice for you.
- Culture. Situated at the “heel of Italy’s boot,” Apulia has a relaxed, Mediterranean climate and culture. Expats choose Apulia for its amazing food, slow-paced and seaside living, and affordability. Truly a good life!
- Cost of Living. The region takes the eighteenth spot in terms of everyday cost of living (Sicily is a tad more expensive at number sixteen).
- Expat Community. Apulia is not as well-traversed by foreigners as other areas, but it does have a growing expat community.
- Climate. The Mediterranean climate is like Sicily’s. Apulia has mild and wet winters but brightens up with hot and dry summers.
With a population of nearly 6 million, Lazio is a central region that borders Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche to the north, Abruzzo, and Molise to the east, and Campania to the south. It is home to Rome (Roma) which is the most populous city in the country.
Lazio may be an excellent choice if you are a retiree with health concerns who doesn’t speak fluent Italian. Rome has a world-class healthcare system, and being a global city, many of the capital’s residents speak English.
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The Lazio region has been heavily influenced by its capital, and you can see many remnants of the Roman Empire to this day. Lazio’s history, cuisine, art, architecture, literature, cinema, customs, politics (and so on) have all been shaped by this long legacy.
According to Italy Magazine, expats love Rome for its cultural heritage, wining and dining options, and exciting, bustling atmosphere. Like Milan, it is an excellent choice for retirees who thrive while living in a vibrant metropolis.
If you want a faster-paced and cosmopolitan lifestyle, with all the modern, world-class amenities of an international city, then Rome could be perfect for you. But as with every other major Italian metropolis, Rome also abounds with all the culture and history you love about the country.
With a history spanning 28 centuries and the third-largest population in Europe, Rome is packed with all the cultural attractions, historical sites, entertainment options, and gastronomical delights to keep you happy for your entire retirement.
Additionally, if you love to travel, Rome acts as a well-serviced, convenient hub for domestic and international adventures. Not to mention that when you return, you’ll have a lovely time roaming around and discovering more of what Italy’s capital has to offer.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Lazio
Being the second most populated region in Italy (after Lombardy), Lazio has a lot to offer. Although the capital draws the most visitors, the rest of the region is also attractive for foreign retirees.
If you want to live near Rome but not right in the central metropolitan area, you could consider one of the many neighboring towns that are a short distance from Rome. For example, Tivoli, Ostia, or Latina.
- Culture. The influence of the Roman Empire is still noticeable in many aspects of Lazio’s culture. According to Trips 2 Italy, “nearly every facet of Lazio’s infrastructure features some shades of Roman influence.”
- Cost of Living. Lazio is home to the nation’s capital and is also the most expensive Italian region to retire to. However, it also holds the highest standard of living. Rome is the third most expensive city in Italy (less pricey than Milan).
- Expat Community. Want to spend time with other expats and foreign retirees? You’ll find tons of expats in Rome and other major cities in Lazio. In 2019, approximately half a million foreigners lived in the Province of Rome.
- Climate. You can enjoy a Mediterranean climate along the coastline with a cooler climate the closer you get to the Apennines mountains.
Positioned east of Lazio, Abruzzo is another centrally located region. Despite this, Abruzzo is considered to have a southern Italian culture and to be a part of Southern Italy. If you are a big nature lover, this might be the retirement destination for you.
With miles upon miles of land protected as nature reserves or national parks, the region has even been called “the greenest region in Italy.” In fact, almost half of Abruzzo’s land is preserved as parks or reserves. It also has amazing hiking and skiing trails.
Meaning “the Eagle,” the region’s main city, is located east of Abruzzo and is only about a 1.5-hour drive (61 miles or 98.2 km) from Rome. With a population of less than 75,000 (as of 2022), L’Aquila offers a serene and pleasant home for retirees who wish to live amongst nature.
Despite its small size, the town is home to some fine cultural institutions. There is a university, a symphony orchestra, a fine-arts academy, and a theater company to be found in L’Aquila.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Abruzzo
This region is another hidden gem for those looking to retire somewhere quiet beyond the major metropolitan regions and tourist attractions. Medieval towns are nestled amongst national parks, lakes, and towering mountain ranges. Not to mention you’ve got that glorious Adriatic coastline too.
- Culture. The greenest region in Italy is a great choice for nature-lovers and those wishing to escape the stress and noise of busier locations. Like much of Italy, the region offers picturesque scenery and medieval villages. There are also great skiing and hiking opportunities.
- Cost of Living. Abruzzo is ranked the fifteenth most expensive Italian region. If you want to stretch your money further, you may enjoy spending your retirement years in Abruzzo. Although it was once a poor region, Abruzzo has been developing at rapid rates these last decades.
- Expat Community. Expats are attracted to this region for its affordability, nature parks, skiing, and hiking opportunities. It is also quite close to Rome.
- Climate. The coastal region has a Mediterranean climate. The inland, hilly regions have lower temperatures with increasing altitudes. The rainiest area is closest to the border with Lazio.
Marche (also known as Le Marche) is a region to the east of the country. It’s a fantastic destination to call your new home if you seek to live somewhere off the beaten track. Bordering the Adriatic Sea, Marche has so much potential to give you the best retirement in Italy.
This central region is home to many of the attractive features of previously mentioned locations. It has the cultural history, mouth-watering food, charming villages, and glorious scenery that make you adore Italy. Much of Marche is covered in mountains or in rolling hillsides with scenic vineyards.
The region may not be as famous as others, but it certainly offers you the chance to live an authentically Italian life at a slower pace. Like all of Italy, Marche has a high HDI (Human Development Index), which ensures you’ll have a comfortable retirement.
Ancona, a seaport capital, is situated on the beautiful Adriatic Sea. With a population of less than 110,000, it could be just what you’re looking for if you love smaller, seaside towns with plenty of character and beauty. Ancona is located about 170 miles (273.6 km) from Rome.
A walled city in Marche, Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This picturesque town, nestled on a hill, boasts a proud heritage of Renaissance culture and medieval architecture. It’s a gorgeous example of the cultural heritage of the Marche region and is further inland than Ancona.
Lifestyle for Retiree Expats in Marche
Could Marche become the next Tuscany? Why not! It has many of the same, quintessentially Italian characteristics, such as delicious food and wine, a rich heritage, stunning hills, and Mediterranean beaches. But the region is lesser-known and traveled by foreigners.
- Culture. With its proximity to both Tuscany and Umbria, Marche shares a similar culture. Locals savor the time they spend sharing meals (or wine, or coffee) with friends and family. The art and architecture of the region flourished during the Renaissance.
- Cost of Living. While the living costs in Tuscany are the nation’s fourth-highest, Marche ranks at number eleven, making it more budget-friendly while featuring many of the same cultural aspects.
- Expat Community. Although Marche is home to fewer expats than other Italian regions, you will still be able to find English-speaking expats and locals.
Climate. Marche has a temperate climate. The coasts are more Mediterranean, while the inland’s hilly and mountainous areas are more continental (cold and snowy in the winter).