The north-eastern province, dotted with snowy slopes and picturesque mountain villages, has been judged to have the best quality of life of anywhere in Italy.
Belluno climbed to the top of business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore’s annual liveability ranking of 110 Italian provinces, published this week.
With a successful tourism industry as well as a growing manufacturing sector, Belluno scored highest overall across six different categories, with especially good marks for its low crime rate, high employment, substantial average wealth and lack of urban crowds.
Photo: Sathish J/Flickr
Aosta and Sondrio, also in the northern Italian countryside, came second and third respectively.
The first big city on the list is Milan, which has fallen six places from last year to eighth position. It continues to score top marks for average wealth but was dragged down by its high crime rate – the worst of any province in Italy, according to the ranking.
Rome, meanwhile, slid 11 places to 24th, its cultural attractions failing to make up for high crime, crowded living space and middling economic opportunities.
The north and centre of Italy dominate the top half of the ranking, which goes all the way down to 51 without a single southern province. The highest scoring place in the south is Oristano, Sardinia at 52, while Italy’s third biggest city, Naples, languishes at 107.
Oristano is famous for its traditional carnival. Photo: Mario Laporta/AFP
The very worst place for quality of life, according to Il Sole 24 Ore? That’s Caserta, just north of Naples, popular with tourists for its spectacular royal palace but for residents one of the poorest, most dangerous, least employed places in Italy.
The ranking was decided on 42 different indicators divided into six categories: wealth and consumption, employment and innovation, environment and services, demographics and society, justice and safety, and culture and free time.
One of the big surprises is of this year’s ranking is the number-one province for work: Ascoli Piceno in the central Marche region, which has managed to attract big companies as well as fostering a large number of small companies and start-ups.
Less surprisingly, Italy’s top city for culture is the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence, which this year overtook Rome for cinemas, live performances, sports and its inhabitants’ trips overseas.