Italy - 10 Best Places To Retire

Can you name the one European country that has had the biggest impact on western civilization? If you said, “Italy,” go to the head of the class. Italy was the cradle of European civilization, the home of the Renaissance and the source of all western religions in the form of Roman Catholicism. Now let us take a look at what makes Italy one of the 10 best places to retire.

Part of Italy lies on the European Continent while the majority is on the Italian Peninsula. It also has the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Seal – Sicily and Sardinia. The country is home to about 60,200,000 people and covers 116,347sq. mi. It is the sixth most populous country in Europe and the 23rd most populous in the world. Its capital city is, of course, Rome.

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The cost of living in Italy

Italy has one of the highest costs of living in the European Union though there is a large disparity between the cost of living in the prosperous north and the relatively poor south.

Here are some average living costs.

Furnished, two-bedroom house                                  $1667

Furnished two-bedroom apartment                            $1154

Ground coffee, 500g                                                  $3.85

Telephone, one line/one month                                   $47.46

Cell phone                                                                   $80.00

Electricity (apartment)                                                $90.00

Three-course restaurant meal                                      $48.75

Antibiotics (12)                                                           $28.86

Italian taxes

Unfortunately, if you retire to Italy, you won’t escape being taxed.

You will pay either U.S. or Italian taxes on your worldwide income depending on which country is your fiscal domicile – in other words where you are a resident for tax purposes.

If you live in Italy permanently and your residence is considered to be your resident domicile, you will be required to pay Italian taxes on your worldwide income.  If you remain a U.S. citizen, you will still have to file tax returns. However, Italy ascribes to the double taxation agreement so you will not be doubly taxed on your income. This includes Social Security pensions that are subject to U.S. withholding tax.

Italian income tax rates are on a sliding scale as follows – after allowances have been subtracted:

  • 23% for amounts up to $36,000
  • 33% for the next band from $36,001 to $39,300
  • 39% for amounts between $39,301 and $119,200
  • 45% for amounts $119,201 and over.

There is no wealth or inheritance tax in Italy but sales taxes are high on items such as gasoline, cigarettes and cars.

If you buy a residence in Italy, you will pay a purchase registration tax of 3% to 4%, if it is your primary residence. The tax is 10% if the property is a second home. Local property taxes or ICI are 0.4 to 0.7% of the property’s value. Capital gains taxes are payable for only the first five years.

Italian cuisine

Italian cuisine varies from region to region and each has a variety of different ingredients.  However, many Italian dishes that were once considered regional have proliferated with many variations throughout the country.

In Northern Italy, the most common ingredients are fish (cod or baccala), rice, maize, corn, potatoes, pork and different types of cheeses.

Central Italy’s most important ingredients include Parma ham, sausage, different kinds of salami, truffles, grana, Parmigiano regianno, tomatoes and tortellini. In Southern Italy, tomatoes (either used fresh or cooked into a tomato sauce), peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, oranges, ricotta cheese, aubergines, capers and fish such as anchovies, sardines and tuna.

'Italian real estate

Most expats choose to retire somewhere along Italy’s coastline.

Punta Ala, a seaside resort and golf course on Tuscany is a popular choice. On the Adriatic side of the country, another good choice for retirees is Le Marche, which is bordered by 120 miles of sandy beach. On Le Marché’s southernmost Ascoli Piceno province is San Benedetto del Tronto – famed for is 7,000 palm trees, attractive beaches, a long promenade and a lively town center.

The Amalfi Coast offers some of the most wonderful ocean views in the world. Towns and villages seem to cascade down its steep cliffs. Amalfi and Positano, Praiano and Ravello, Conca, Maiori, and Minori are considered to be jewels of the Amalfi Coast. All five offer a wealth of history, splendid monuments, and amazing views of the sapphire Mediterranean.

The Campania coastal region’s tourism hub tourism is Sorrento. However, in July and August it tends to feel as if everyone in the world has decided to vacation there.

There is also Liguria and its coastal enchantments. It has handsome seaside reports, gardens, small, painted villages tucked into the fissures of steep cliffs – and its location makes crossing over to France very easy. The Ligurian coastline is 150 miles long, starting at Vertimiglia and continuing east to Livorno in Tuscany.

 The climate

Italy’s climate is very similar to other countries that border on the Mediterranean, plus it offers the mountainous climate of the Italian Alps.

As a general rule, the best months in Italy are April to June and September-October as this is when the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds.

The northern parts of Italy are warm with occasional rainfall, while the central region has fairly high humidity and the south scorches under dry heat.

The winter in Italy is usually cold with rain and snow. However, the weather in the south is much milder. For example, Sicily has mild temperatures year around.

Milan, Turin and Venice are dominated by cold, damp and fog in the winter. Tuscany’s winter temperatures are often near freezing.  Temperatures in the south of Italy are more favorable as they average 50o to 60o F. However, the Italian coastline usually has mild temperatures that make for great swimming, fishing, sailing and hiking.

Retiring to Italy

If you will be moving to Italy, you may want to start with a Residency Visa.  However, if you are retired, you may want to get the country’s elective residency visa, which is the visa generally, used by foreigners who collect income from a retirement or pension plan. You will need to apply for this visa in person at your local Italian consulate. You will have to show proof of your financial means such as originals of financial statements from your bank(s), investment/brokerage firms, Social Security, etc. proving you current balances. This is because you cannot finance your residence in Italy by working there and must demonstrate that have enough income to support yourself and your partner (if appropriate). You will have to f some additional documents, including a rental agreement or deed for property in Italy and proof of valid medical insurance.


Italy’s official language is Italian. One source estimates that about 55 million people in Italy speak Italian and another 6.7 million outside the country.

The Italian economy

Italy has the seventh largest economy in the world and the fourth largest in Europe. It is a member of the Group of Eight (G8), the European Union and OECD. It is one of the world’s most industrialized nations and a leading country in world trade and exports.

The country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is $29,500 but its GDP growth was down -0.5% in 2009. Its top industries include tourism, iron and steel, machinery, food processing, motor vehicles, clothing, ceramics and textiles.

Health care

Italy is ranked second on the World Health Organization’s list of countries with quality health services and spends about 9.0% of its GDP for health care.

The country has a national health care plan called Servizio Sanitario Nazionale. U. S. and Canadian citizens who are legal residents of Italy can apply to join the plan. Whether or not you are accepted will depend on certain criteria such as work permit (if applicable), your nationality, and so forth.

If you are a resident, and covered by the national health care plan, you will be provided all hospital services at no cost, as well as family doctor visits, medical treatment by pediatricians, treatment by specialists, drugs, medicines, out-patient treatments and dental treatments. If you are not enrolled in this plan, you will pay your medical costs and then claim reimbursement from your insurance company.

Italian doctors are very well trained and Italy’s private hospitals are comparable to those in any modern country.

However, some of the public hospitals, especially those in Southern Italy provide care that is way below Americans standards. Many expatriates buy private health insurance to cover the expansive costs of private hospitalization and to avoid the long waits that are common on most of the public hospitals.

Cultural activities

What do we need to say about cultural activities in a country that was the central place of Italian culture from antiquity until the16th Century?  Italy has produced some of the greatest sculptors, musicians, painters, poets, and architects in history.

Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (44), including the Roman Forum, the Capitoline Hill, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums and on and on. And this is just places to see in Rome as there is also Venice, Florence, Milan and Verona – to name just a few.

Italy also has some of the world’s greatest art galleries including the Galleria Regionale in Palermo, the Uffizi in Florence, Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, Civico Museo d'Arte Contemporanea in Milan and many, many more.

Retiring in Italy? Where to Retire in Italy? Here are three great areas

There are many places in Italy where you could have a happy carefree retirement but the three we like are Tuscany, Naples and Sardinia.

Tuscany. This are, which measure 8,880 sq, mi., is known for its beautiful landscapes and rich cultural heritage. In fact, Tuscany is generally regarded as the place where the Renaissance bean and has been home to some of Italy’s most influential artists and scientists. Tuscany has unique cuisine and is famous for its wines, including Chianti and Brunelio di Montalcino.

You can purchase an apartment in a palace in Anghiari, Tuscany for $230,904 that will have a living room with stone fireplace, bathroom, small kitchen and a bathroom and bedroom in the attic.  A rural farmhouse in Sinalunga. Tuscany with two independent apartments, orchard and olives can be yours for $910,788. The main apartment has a living area, three bedrooms, studio, kitchen, and two bathrooms; and the second apartment has a living area, two bedrooms, kitchen and a bathroom.

Naples. Napoli as the Italians know it, is the capital of the region of Campania and is known for its rich history of art, architecture, music culture and gastronomy. It is located halfway between two volcanic areas, the volcano Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields. It has many great museums including the Naples National Archaeological Museum and the Museo di Capodimonte. It is the home of the Cathedral of Naples and numerous other churches such as San Demenico Maggiore, the Hermitage of Camaldoli and San Franccesco di Paola.

Property costs? House and apartments in or Near Naples are not inexpensive. For example, an apartment with a terrace, beamed ceilings and beautiful views as recently listed at $153,936 and a penthouse in Castiglione del Lago, Umbria with three bedrooms and three bedrooms plus loft was advertised for $628,572.

Sardinia. This island is one of the five healthiest places in the world to live. It has beautiful beaches and more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean and is to the west of mainland Italy. Both Italians and retirees like Sardinia due to its Mediterranean climate, picturesque towns and unspoiled beaches.

The cost of housing on Sardinia is on a par with the rest of Italy. For example, a one-bedroom apartment in La Ciaccia (which is part of Valledoria) was recently on sale for $121,866. There were also 1-bedroom. Seafront apartments available in Golfo Aranci at 130 E and a villa with a large garden at $319,417.

Italy has much to offer – including some of the western world’s most famous sculptings, art, churches and archeological wonders – as well as good health care, beautiful beaches, seacoasts with a temperate climate and a whole host of great places to live and visit and stay for the rest of your life. It’s just no wonder that Italy is one of the world’s 10 best places to retire.


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