Trento - Italy's greenest city

The 5 most (and least) green cities in Italy

Environment News

The annual Urban Ecosystem report by Legambiente, Ambiente Italia and Il Sole 24 ore captures the environmental performance of 105 provincial capital cities. Which are the top and bottom green cities?

Air, water, waste, mobility, environment. These 5 macro-areas group the 18 parameters analysed for the annual report  Urban Ecosystem of Legambiente , Ambiente Italia and Il Sole 24 ore. 

Which are the greenest cities in Italy? 

The sad truth is, few Italian cities offer environmentally friendly living. According to the Legambiente 2021 report, the cities of the north are top of green tree, with a few virtuous exceptions from the centre and south.

Top of the list…

Trento is the greenest city in Italy, followed by Reggio Emilia and Mantua. In fourth position is the first in the south – Cosenza. It is unique in a top ten made up of northern small towns due to its first place in terms of low number of accidents and purified water. 

Pordenone, Bolzano, Parma, Belluno are also in an excellent position in the standings. Treviso, ninth, and Ferrara tenth close the top ten. The latter is in command when it comes to separate waste collection, with a whopping 87.6%.

Far from green…

The reverse is true for the southern cities, particularly in Sicily. In fact, there are seven cities among the last ten provincial capitals. And while Alessandria, in fourth last place, has the sad record of the only one in the north among the worst 10, to close the ranking, in 105th position is Palermo. That is preceded by Catania, Brindisi, Alessandria ,Messina, Latina, Isernia, Massa, Ragusa, Syracuse and Grosseto. 

How the green cities’ scores are calculated

The score in the final ranking, in hundredths, is assigned on the basis of the qualitative results obtained in the 18 indicators considered by the Urban Ecosystem. That system considers six thematic areas: air, water, waste, mobility, urban environment, energy.

The scores assigned for each indicator identify the sustainability rate of the real city compared to an ideal city (not too utopian since there is at least one city that reaches the maximum points that can be assigned for each of the 18 indices).

In the overall calculation, there is the assignment of a “bonus” for cities that are distinguished in four areas: water recovery and management, waste cycle, public transport management efficiency, and modal share.

The bonus is equal to one third of the overall weight of the indicators that refer to the chosen area.

The top five green cities


Trento, number one in the green cities list

Trento ranks first in the Urban Environment classification for the third consecutive year. Green city par excellence, it scores 84.71 out of a hundred. And it records an improvement in performance in land use and concentrations of NO2 and PM10, an increase in separate waste collection and cycle infrastructures.

2. Reggio Emilia 

Reggio Emilia

Reggio Emilia scores a fairly impressive 77.89 points. It is in second place thanks to the increase in the space dedicated to pedestrians and cycling. The Emilian city is in fact the first ever for equivalent cycle paths and the number of trees planted.

3. Mantua

Mantua - in the top 5 of green cities

Lombardy Mantova has 75.14 points and improves on last year’s ranking, thanks to better air quality and the reduction of the losses of the water network. 

4. Cosenza

Cosenza with 74.21 is the best of southern cities and the only one to appear in the top ten. This is due to the reduction of water network losses and domestic water consumption, the production of waste and land use as well as on the increase of cycle infrastructures.

5. Pordenone

Pordenone, Italy

With 73.30 points, Pordenone closes the top five of green cities. Linked to the result is the improvement in the losses of the water network (the second most virtuous city in containing them) and in the reduction of waste production. Furthermore, the Friulian city has improved in its separate collection.

The bottom five

101. Messina

The City of the Strait, with 34,49 points, falls woefully short. Twentieth for the number of trees in publicly owned areas, eighty-first for square meters of green calculated for each inhabitant. In addition, the average concentration of Nitrogen Dioxide also places it in the seventy-ninth position

102. Alessandria

Alessandria, Italy. Editorial credit: /

Alessandria is the last city in the north, in the Legambiente report. With a dramatically low separate collection, at 45.7%. It is also among the Italian cities that wastes the most water, over 25%, which equals 155.9 litres per inhabitant per day for domestic use. Finally, in the city there are just 19 trees for every 100 inhabitants. 

103. Brinidisi

Brindisi, Italy

Brindisi with 30.03 points is in third from last position with a loss of 22 positions compared to 2020. It seems, however, that the lack of some data that the offices were not able to transmit in time seems to have had a weight in this ranking required. 

104. Catania

Catania, the penultimate when it comes to Italy's green cities.

Catania does not even manage 30 points (29.38). Its lowly position is down to lack of separate waste collection (last place) purification efficiency (101st). The only positive fact: the city of Etna is the most virtuous in terms of water consumption. 

105. Palermo

Palermon ranks last in the green cities list

At rock bottom is Palermo with 26.60. Harming the Sicilian city is the increase in per capita waste production and the number of cars on the road. The only positive figure is the increase in passengers of the public transport service, in contrast with the average of the other cities. 

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