North vs South of Italy

If you are thinking of relocating to Italy, part of that decision will include choosing between living in the north or in the south of the country. These parts are heavily divided and are very different from a cultural point of view, but they are equally beautiful and steeped in the arts, architecture and history. The south of Italy was ruled over by the Arabs, the Greeks and the Spanish at varying times in history, and it absorbed many elements of their cultures. On the other hand, the north was dominated by the French, the Celts, and Germanic tribes, and it is generally more industrial and affluent compared to the south. Drawing from this, this article will outline some of the differences between the two parts of the country and it will provide information regarding the places that are worth visiting and especially considering if purchasing a property in Italy. Please note that both the south and the north of Italy are vast areas and although there are considerable differences between the two, they are more complex and nuanced than the regional stereotypes can lead us to believe. Some differences are rooted in the fact that Italy’s north has a stronger economy, and that the cost of living is higher in the north than in the south, however there are also other aspects that are worth considering when analyzing the differences between them.

Southern regions tend to be more affordable and the real estate market is also more accessible compared to the north of Italy. Furthermore, although many see the south of Italy as a sun-soaked beach haven, it provides for some interesting city getaways, such as the legendary UNESCO site of Pompei, a ruined Roman town that was frozen in time by the eruption of a volcano in the first century. Among the cities that are worth visiting further down in the region of Apulia is Lecce, a baroque-style city which is often nicknamed “The Florence of the South” due to its flamboyant architecture. Apulia, in the heel of Italy, is also home to over 500 miles of coastline. It has become very popular in the past ten years due to its whitewashed old towns which resemble the Greek neighbors’ quaint coastal villages.

If you are looking for more pristine beaches, charming towns and impressive coastal roads you should visit Sorrento, Capri, Sicily and Sardinia, which hosts some of Europe’s most stunning beaches. Nevertheless, there are also 400 miles of coast along the Ligurian and Adriatic seas further north of Italy. One of the most stunning coastal spots in northern Italy is Cinque Terre, which embraces five picturesque fishing towns nestled in a mountainous landscape overlooking the Ligurian Sea.

As for the climate, Italy’s Mediterranean peninsula is typically sunny; interestingly, the north can be just as hot and dry as the south, especially from May to September. As for winters, there are considerable differences between the north and the south of the country. The north, in fact, tends to be colder compared to the south. However, colder temperatures are ideal if you want to spend time travelling and visiting different areas in northern Italy, from lively and buzzing cities, such as Milan, Turin and Verona to the elegant venetian lagoon, and the crystal blue lakes, the most famous of which are Lakes Como and Lake Garda, located about an hour away from Milan. These destinations, including Desenzano del Garda and Riva del Garda, to name a few, are particularly popular among tourists all year round.

In particular, since the outbreak of the pandemic, there seems to have been growing interest in purchasing property around the lakes with prices ranging from €3,500 per sq.m., to €5.000/6.000 per sq.m. As for property prices in the rest of northern Italy, Venice and Milan have the most expensive housing in the country with average house prices ranging from €3,500 to €4,500 per sq.m. In Turin, the average price for homes is €1,600 per sq.m., in Florence it is €3,950 approximately per sq.m. However, it is also worth mentioning that smaller towns in the north of Italy can offer very competitive housing prices. Arguably, the south of Italy offers more affordable prices especially in Sicily, which is among the regions with the lowest apartment prices as of June 2022, offering around 57% less than the average price in northern regions. In many cities and towns in Sicily the average cost per sq.m. stands between €900 and €1,200. Finally, many towns in southern Italy have adhered to the €1 house program, which was originally launched by a small number of municipalities in Sicily in 2016 that started selling abandoned and dilapidated houses for €1 in an effort to repopulate their historic towns. In order to buy a €1 house, the buyer must comply with a number of conditions, such as paying a deposit and submitting a renovation plan to the municipality. The renovation works must be completed within a set time frame; however, the specific process and the requirements vary by municipality.

In conclusion, there are several benefits to living in both the north and the south of Italy and ultimately, the decision depends on the individual’s specific taste and needs. Many holidaymakers are attracted to the Mediterranean peninsula, which is characterized by a slower pace of life and a cheaper lifestyle, whereas other people, for instance, are attracted by the north of Italy, which offers more job opportunities and a vibrant and cosmopolitan life-style. If you are interested in investing in the Italian real estate market and need further information about purchasing a property, please send us an email at We will be glad to help you!

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