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LIVING IN ITALY

Rome and Milan rated two of the world’s ‘worst’ cities to live in for foreigners

Italy’s two biggest cities once again get poor marks this year from international residents for career prospects, job security and bureaucracy.

Colosseum in Rome
Rome ranked 41st out of 50 in the latest Expat City Ranking from InterNations. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

With its stunning landscapes, good weather and culinary delights, Italy is often seen as a place where life is generally easy and relaxed.

But according to the latest study from InterNations, an information and networking site for people living overseas, life in some parts of the country is much less sweet than some people may think.

The 2022 Expat City Ranking has this year once again rated the Italian cities of Rome and Milan among the ten worst to live in worldwide for foreign nationals.

The ranking, based on a survey of nearly 12,000 international residents, placed Rome and Milan 41st and 44th out of 50 respectively this year, after publishing similarly dismal findings in previous years.

Both cities were again ranked very poorly in the Working Abroad index (which looks at career prospects, job security, work-life balance and work satisfaction) and in the Admin Topics category (mostly related to the overall performance of local administration offices).

READ ALSO: Rome vs Milan: Which is the best Italian city for students?

Milan's Duomo cathedral

Milan ranked 44th overall in the 2022 Expat City Ranking, six places removed from Johannesburg, which came last. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Rome and Milan shared the bottom of the table with Frankfurt, Paris, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Vancouver, Tokyo, and Johannesburg, which ranked last, earning the unenviable title of ‘worst city to live in 2022’.

At the other end of the scale, Valencia (1st), Dubai, Mexico City, Lisbon and Madrid were named the five best cities to move to.

Here’s a more in-depth insight into how Rome and Milan each fared in the ranking. 

Rome

Rome (41st overall), performed poorly in the Career Prospects and Job Security categories, where it ranked 46th and 45th respectively. 

According to the survey, 38 percent of expats living in Rome were unhappy with the local job market, whereas 24 percent stated that moving to Italy’s capital had not improved their careers.

Things were even worse in the Admin category, where Rome came last worldwide.

Here, respondents reported significant difficulties in trying to get a visa, opening a bank account or dealing with local bureaucracy, with many lamenting the lack of online government services and information.

READ ALSO:

Finally, Rome ranked 41st for quality of life, with over one in three respondents reporting being dissatisfied with local transport services and 28 percent reporting issues with trying to access healthcare services.

On a more positive note – perhaps, the only one – Rome did well in the Ease of Settling In index as three in four expats said that they felt at home in the city and had managed to make new friends.

Milan

Like Rome, Milan (44th overall) fared poorly in the Working Abroad index. In particular, the northern city ranked in the bottom five for both work-life balance (46th) and working hours (48th). 

On top of that, over one in four respondents didn’t feel that they were being paid fairly for their work, which contributed to the city ranking 46th in the Salary category.

Milan's Vittorio Emanuele II gallery

Over half of expats living in Milan were unhappy with air quality in the city. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 Milan performed better than Rome when it came to perceived quality of life, ranking 33rd overall.

That said, it still registered a number of lows. Notably, the city came 40th in the Environment and Climate category, with over half of respondents (54 percent) reportedly unhappy with air quality – the global dissatisfaction rate stands at 19 percent.

About one in three were also unhappy with their personal financial situation and felt that their income wasn’t enough to lead a comfortable life.

Local administration was almost as big a problem in Milan as it was in Rome as the northern city came 48th in that category. 

READ ALSO: The best (and worst) places to live in Italy in 2022

As many as 66 percent of respondents said they found it hard to deal with Milan’s bureaucracy, compared to 39 percent globally.

While Italy’s biggest cities, especially the capital, often come out poorly in quality of life indexes, smaller towns and cities generally score much better.

The northern cities of Bolzano and Trento are regularly named by Italian rankings as the best places to live in Italy, with Florence and Bologna usually featuring near the top too.

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ITALIAN HISTORY

Rome archaeologists continue search for start of Appian Way

An excavation team in Rome is trying to unearth the first, oldest section of the Appian Way, the Roman Empire's most strategic highway, which may soon become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Rome archaeologists continue search for start of Appian Way

A paved road of more than 500 kilometres (310 miles) begun in 312 BC by Roman statesman Appius Claudius Caecus, the ‘Via Appia‘ is an archaeological treasure trove, where an ongoing excavation hopes to uncover the actual starting point of the road in Rome.

The artery leading south to the key port of Brindisi at Italy’s heel provided a gateway to the eastern Mediterranean, especially Greece, and was of strategic importance for the armies and merchants of a quickly expanding Rome.

READ ALSO: Treasure trove of ancient Roman statues unearthed in Tuscany

This week, archaeologists showed off progress in their attempt to dig deep enough to unearth the beginning of the road, hidden far beneath Rome’s Baths of Caracalla, built some five centuries after the Appian Way.

“What we see today is the result of an excavation that began in July with the central goal of finding clues to the location of the first section of the Appian Way,” said archaeologist Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani.

The first, earliest section of the road is the one that provides “the most problems regarding the precise and exact location”, the professor at Roma Tre University cautioned.

The Appian Way is a paved road stretching more than 500 kilometres, begun in 312 B.C. by Roman statesman Appius Claudius Caecus. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Construction of the Appian Way required Herculean engineering, from the levelling of the land, building of ditches and canals and surfacing of the road with gravel and heavy stone, to the building of post offices and inns to support the thousands of soldiers and merchants headed southward.

Digging deeper

Wandering today along the Appian Way, where massive blocks of paving stone are still visible in sections, is to take a trip through the past.

Imposing monuments such as the first century BC tomb of a consul’s daughter, Cecilia Metella, sit alongside ancient catacombs and churches, crumbling tombstones of Roman families and leafy villas.

The Appian Way sheds light not only on the Roman Republic and later Roman Empire, but also on life and death in the Middle Ages with its pilgrimage shrines and crypts.

The road also provides a glimpse of modern architectural wonders, such as the sumptuous villas owned by Italy’s rich and famous, including film legend Gina Lollobrigida or former premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Appian Way in Rome

A man walks along Rome’s Appian Way, which might soon become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Italy, which earlier this month presented its bid for the Appian Way to UNESCO, already has 58 sites recognised as World Heritage Sites, the most of any country.

They include entire historical city centres, such as Rome, Florence and Venice, and archaeological areas such as the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Work to locate the starting point of the Appian Way, believed to be some eight metres below ground, has so far been complicated by groundwater.

Nevertheless, digging in higher strata of ground has unearthed relics from different periods, including a marble bust from the second century AD and an early papal square coin, minted between 690 and 730.

Wandering today along the Appian Way is to take a trip through the past. (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Archaeologists have also found fragments of glass and ceramics, mosaic and bits of amphora.

So far, the excavation has reached residential or commercial structures dating back to the time of Emperor Hadrian, who died in 138 AD.

Archaeologist Daniele Manacorda said the current excavation had reached the point of “late ancient Rome, the one that began to live in the ruins of ancient Rome”.

“If we could continue to dig deeper, we would find archaic Rome,” he said.

By AFP’s Kelly Velasquez and Alexandria Sage

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