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Discovering Italy

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Every year, thousands of expats flock to Italy for the chance to experience la dolce vita. The country boasts vineyards, spectacular architecture housing many of the world’s greatest masterpieces, ancient relics, beautiful beaches, and stunning mountain ranges. It is also famed for its cuisine, which is complemented by a lively social culture and a romantic attitude towards living.

As an expat destination, Italy is an appealing choice. There is already a large expat community in Italy, particularly in bigger cities such as Milan, Turin, and Rome, as well as historically touristic destinations like Florence. Italy is also a founding member of the EU, which means that citizens of any other EU country have the right to live and work here.

Regions

Italy is comprised of 20 regions: Abruzzo, Aosta Valley, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy, Marche, Molise, Piedmont, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Trentino-Alto Adige, Umbria, and Veneto. Each of these regions is divided into provinces – Italy has a total of 110. Of the 20 regions, five have an autonomous status, which means they can enact legislation locally.

The southern regions of the country are largely mountainous and warm, whilst the northern regions are flatter and cooler. Italy is surrounded by the sea and features several thousand kilometres of coastline. The northern regions of the country have more developed business, services, and industry sectors, whilst the South is predominantly agricultural, although it is increasingly relying on the tourist industry too.

Rome is the capital city of Italy, and also the country’s largest city.

Cost of living in Italy

Expats should bear in mind that Italy has a high cost of living compared to most other countries. Prices vary from region to region, and the cost of living tends to be higher in the North, where wages are also higher.

Climate

Italy enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate. Typically summers are hot and dry, and winters are cool and wet. Snow is common in the North and summers in the South can reach 45°C.

Language

Italian is the main language, although German is spoken in the Northern area of the country near the Italian border, and some French is spoken in the Val d’Aosta region. Most people in big towns and cities have a decent command of the English language, although in smaller towns and cities you may struggle to find people who can communicate in English.

Economy

Whilst Italy weathered severed damage from the global financial crisis, the economy is strong, with a high per capita GDP and relatively low levels of employment.

Traveling to Italy

You can reach Italy by land, sea, and air. The country has a highly developed road infrastructure, making cities and streets easily accessible. The railway network, for its part, stretches over some 15,000 kilometres of the country, whilst Sicily, Sardinia, and other islands have a commute ferry system.

The country also has a wide network of airports in major cities. These are served by frequent daily flights.

 Useful links:

Italia Tourist Board
HSBC Italy Expat Guide
Economic forecast for Italy
Europa

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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Our expat guide to to leisure activities in Rome, including key museums, parks, opera, bars, and nightlife in the Italian capital city.
Our expat guide to leisure activities in Milan, including key museums, parks, opera, bars and nightlife in this big Italian city.