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Why are Trento and Bolzano rated the best places to live in Italy?

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Why are Trento and Bolzano rated the best places to live in Italy?
Bolzano and Trento are consistently ranked as among the best places to live in Italy. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

The northern cities of Trento and Bolzano consistently rank among the top places to live in Italy. What makes them stand out?


Where's the best place to live in Italy? If you believe the results of a recent quality of life survey published by ItaliaOggi and Rome's La Sapienza University, it's the twin northeastern cities of Trento and Bolzano.

READ ALSO: The best (and worst) places to live in Italy in 2023

In 2023, Bolzano and Trento came first and second out of the 107 best (and worst) places to live in the country according to the survey, which is one of the most respected annual 'quality of life' surveys conducted in Italy.

If these survey results sound familiar, it's because Bolzano and Trento have been taking turns in the top spot (or at least featuring in the top ten) in past editions of this and other similar surveys for several years

So what exactly is it about these two Alpine cities that continually wins them such high quality of life ratings?

Low unemployment rate

Firstly, Trento and Bolzano have two of the lowest rates of unemployment in Italy.

In the second quarter of 2022, unemployment was at 2.1 percent in the autonomous province of Bolzano and 4.7 percent in the autonomous province of Trento, according to data from Italy's National Statistics Office (ISTAT).


That's compared to a national average of 8.1 percent. Over the same period, the southern regions of Sicily, Campania and Calabria had unemployment rates of 17.3 percent, 15.9 percent, and 15.6 percent respectively.

High wealth and income

In 2021, Eurostat published data showing that the autonomous province of Bolzano had the highest per capita wealth in Italy in 2019; 155 percent above the European average of €31,200.

The GDP per capita for the autonomous province of Trento was 125 percent higher than Europe's average.

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

In 2020, data published by ISTAT relating to 2018 showed that inhabitants of the province of Bolzano had the highest average disposable income in Italy, at €26,000, and the highest GDP per capita, at €47,000 (Trentino ranked fourth, at €38,000).

By contrast, the national average at the time was €29,000, with Calabria reporting GDP per capita of just €17,000.


Both Bolzano and Trento are environmentally friendly cities, leading the country when it comes to green living.

A recent survey conducted by the Italian environmental organisations Legambiente and Ambiente Italia found that Bolzano was the cleanest city in Italy, with Trento coming a close second.

The survey takes into account factors such as air quality, recycling efforts, waste production levels, reliance on renewable energy, public transport services, and metres of bike lanes per 100 inhabitants.

A view of the Dolomite mountains near Bolzano.

A view of the Dolomite mountains near Bolzano. Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP.


Above-average government spending

Trento and Bolzano invest more in their inhabitants than other regions - in Bolzano's case, around double the national average.

Regionalised local government expenditure in Bolzano was €10,148 per capita in 2020, while the national average was €4,595, according to data released by Italy's State General Accounting Office in 2022. Trento's spending was €7,960 per capita.

READ ALSO: ‘If you want quality of life, choose Italy’s sunny south over the efficient north’

It helps that both Trento and Bolzano are the capitals of autonomous provinces. Italy's autonomous provinces and regions have a greater decree of control over how funds are spent than other parts of the country, getting to keep 60 - as opposed to 20 - percent of local taxes.

Wellbeing across demographics

A 2022 quality of life survey conducted by the financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore found that Trento was the only city in Italy that ranked among the top ten for children, young people and the elderly.

Trento scored highly on factors including life expectancy and use of medications for chronic illnesses; the number of municipal civil servants under 40 and university graduates; and the birth rate and places in nursery schools.


But it's not all perfect...

As a counterpoint to the positive factors listed above, it's worth noting that Bolzano and Trento are among the most expensive cities in Italy, with a cost of living to match their residents' high incomes.

They also have relatively high rates of alcoholism and suicide compared to the rest of Italy; in 2020, Trentino had the highest suicide rate in the country.

Anecdotally, people who live or have lived in Trento and Bolzano say these cities are peaceful, clean, friendly, and surrounded by a wealth of natural beauty.

If nightlife is a priority, though, you may find them wanting; while they're both university towns, they're said to lack the buzz of bigger Italian cities.

If you're considering where to move to Italy, it's important to take into account only the factors that are most important to you; sun and sea may be more important than employment opportunities and public transport.

While the south of Italy tends to perform poorly in these surveys, some of our readers - and writers - consider it the best part of the country to live in.

As they say in Italian, a ognuno il suo - to each their own.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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Anonymous 2022/11/14 21:37
I agree totally. Living in Palermo Sicily, the only problem is the bureaucracy and to have extra patience to get something done. One time, 2 times, 3 times is the norm. But all can be compensated by the beautiful sunny dry weather for most of the months, fresh food from farms and sea, aqua blue water in the sea just 30 mins from home. A ognuno il suo ! All depends on how you want to live your life.

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