From coffee to haircuts: How the cost of living varies around Italy

From coffee to haircuts: How the cost of living varies around Italy
The average price of a coffee and pastry at the bar has risen across Italy, but it can still vary significantly from one part of the country to another. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Life is getting more expensive in Italy amid soaring inflation, but there are big differences in the prices of everyday consumer goods depending on which part of the country you're in.


When it comes to the cost of living in Italy’s cities, there’s a stark north-south divide.

Anyone who has spent time travelling around the country will know that a meal out in Palermo usually costs a lot less than in Milan.

But a new study has confirmed that prices for all kinds of consumer goods tend to be much lower across southern Italy - though the gap is closing as inflation soars.


The northern powerhouse city of Milan has the highest prices for consumer goods in the country overall, according to the report by consumer rights group Codacons based on the latest official inflation data.

The cheapest city when it comes to living costs, meanwhile, was Naples - where shoppers need to spend an average of €75 to fill a supermarket cart with basic goods

Italians are seeing higher prices in supermarkets. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

The same shop costs €116 in Milan – 17.7 percent higher than the national average – €110 in Aosta, and €107 in Genoa and Trieste, according to La Repubblica’s summary of the report.

Prices recorded in Catanzaro, Palermo and Pescara were all closer to that in Naples.

The prices of individual items in the cart all followed the same pattern. 

Chicken breast was found to be cheapest in Pescara at 8.82 euros per kilo, while shops in Rome charged the most for anchovies (9.71 euros per kilo), and salmon was prohibitively expensive in Milan at almost 30 euros per kilo, the survey found, with much lower prices in other cities.

Personal services were found to be most expensive in Aosta, with everything from dentistry to dry cleaning costing 29.7 percent more than the national average. 

The northern cities of Trento, Milan and Trieste followed with similarly high prices - though dry cleaning was found to be cheapest in Turin.

Mens’ haircuts were cheapest on average in Catanzaro at 14 euros, while the same cut would cost around 26 euros in Trieste, the study said. For women, the cheapest prices were in Naples (11 euros) while the most expensive cut on average was in another southern city, Bari, at 27 euros.

The cost of a haircut can be very different around Italy. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

And news reports about caro colazione (‘expensive breakfast’) abound due to the rising cost of living, but the survey found the average price of a cappuccino is still around 1.50 on average. The cheapest place to have breakfast at the bar is in Rome, where a cappuccino costs an average of 1.18 euros, while in Trento the same drink costs 1.68 euros.

Codacons said its report was based on the latest inflation data from Italy’s national statistics agency, Istat.


The gap between prices in the north and south is likely to become narrower, Codacons noted, as the cost of living increases across the board.

Cities in Sicily, long known as one of the cheapest parts of Italy to live in, saw the steepest price rises year on year according to Istat.

The data show Catania, Palermo and Messina recorded a rise in prices of +9.9, +9.8 and +9 percent respectively against a national average of 7.9 percent in July.

Inflation in Italy reached 8 percent in Italy in June – the most severe spike the country has experienced since 1986.



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