Parma - best places to live in Italy

The best places to live in Italy – 2021

Life in Italy News

According to the Quality of Life Report by ItaliaOggi and Rome’s La Sapienza University, there is a new leader among the provincial capitals. This study is one of several quality of life surveys. We look at the best places to live in Italy.

A new study has revealed the best places to live in Italy, rating all provincial capitals from the best to worst. The pandemic had an impact on the usual list.

The survey is in its 23rd year. The rankings are based on work opportunities, standards in health and education, crime levels, leisure facilities and environmental factors across the country. This year, as in 2020, the study also took into account how the areas handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

North-south divide

All of the top ten are in the north of the country. The bottom three places are in the south of Italy.

According to the survey, some 22 million residents (around 37% of the population) live in areas with a “poor” or “insufficient” quality of life. This compares favourably to 2020 when 42.5%, or 26 million reported a similar quality of life.

The pandemic didn’t affect all parts of the country equally. The study found areas of vulnerability in the north of the country as well as the south.

ItaliaOggi said that previous years’ rankings ended up overweighting one indicator compared to all the others: population.

As a result, it was decided to scale this factor down, giving it equal or slightly greater weight than the other variables such as business and work, environment, safety, health, leisure and income.

The report shows the quality of life had improved overall for the country. In total, 63 out of Italy’s 107 provincial capitals had a quality of life deemed “good” or “acceptable”.

The best places to live in Italy, 2021 are:

  1. Parma
  2. Trento
  3. Bolzano
  4. Bologna
  5. Milan
  6. Florence
  7. Trieste
  8. Verona
  9. Pordenone
  10. Monza/Brianza


no. 1 Parma - best places to live in Italy

In 2020, Parma was in 39th place. This year, Parma’s liveability index and management of the pandemic lifted it into top spot.

In the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Parma has Renaissance buildings, famed cuisine and lots of green spaces. The town also has good transport links.


No 2. Trento - best places to live in Italy

Trento has taken second place again in the quality of life indexes. Located in Trentino Alto-Adige, Trento performs well in business and jobs. It is also highly considered for its education and training. The city also scores well in urban ecosystems, including reducing emissions.

There are downsides to Trento, such as higher-than-average rates of alcoholism, mental illness and suicide.



Bolzano in South Tyrol is often among the best places to live in Italy. It scores highly for employment, tourism infrastructure, high average wealth, low crime levels and lack of urban crowds.

It is also recognised for its ecological achievements in various quality of life scores.



The university city of Bologna has come on in leaps and bounds this year, rising from 27th to fourth place.

The Emilia Romagna city showed excellent performance in business and Covid-19 management. According to ItaliaOggi, Bologna was “penalised in 2020” by the pandemic, but “able to recover more quickly, demonstrating a more pronounced resilience than that of smaller towns”.

Read: Bologna’s porticoes added to UNESCO World Heritage list


A change in methodology favours larger cities, as can be seen by the climb of Milan, as well as Bologna and Florence.

Milan shot up from 45th to 5th place. Lombardy’s capital ranked highest for income and wealth, even though overall it previously scored much lower in terms of overall quality of life.

Milan, however, also suffers high rates of alcoholism, mental health problems and suicide. On the positive, it is seen as recovering well from the pandemic.



Also scaling the rankings is Florence in Tuscany, bounding into sixth place from 31st. The city is famous for its cultural offerings, but also scores well for liveability, highlighting its environment policies and services.

The city’s mayor Dario Nardella told radio station Controradio: “The rankings last as long as they last. What counts is the direct relationship with the citizens, the concrete response of the community, but it is clear that these rankings are a thermometer.”

Cultural spending, quality of services, and nursery services are all pinpointed as reasons that the city offers a high quality of life.

Read: Best Cathedrals in Italy


Trieste - best places to live in Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia’s Trieste also made large strides up the rankings moving from 40th to seventh place. Key is the small city’s education and training provision, ranking the best in the country.

Trieste, with a population of 200,000, also came second for the average annual per capita income, average salary, average pensions and asset wealth. Only Milan was ahead for the income parameters.

“This city is extraordinary and everyone who visits it is fascinated,” said the city’s mayor, Roberto Dipiazza.

Read: Trieste: a walking wonder



Verona is one of the top ten to have slipped in rankings compared to last year. In 2020, it came in sixth place but lost points this year due to its environmental safety scores.

Overall, Verona stands out for its high standard of living. The city ranked seventh for business and work, and 57th for crime and safety, improving in this area by three positions.


Top of the pile for 2020, Pordenone still places well in this survey and other Italian quality of life reports. Despite improving in key areas such as environment and safety – ranking second, it does not score so well for leisure and tourism.

Monza and Brianza


The last of the top ten spots is the province of Monza and Brianza in Lombardy. Work and business helped push up the area, with the province moving from 39th to 31st position. Unemployment has dropped and there is progress for start-ups and SMEs.

The worst places to live?

Foggia – bottom of Quality of Life survey

Southern Italy dominates the bottom half of the table. Crotone, Naples and Foggia prop up the survey. In the south, the quality of life is seen to be stable or deteriorating, while in the north, overall, it is improving.

However, researchers indicated an increasing complexity when it comes to analysing quality of life.

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