Italy is an increasingly attractive destination for digital nomads from all over the world. It combines relatively cheap cost of living and mostly mild weather with good facilities, excellent quality of life, internationally-acclaimed food and – most importantly – widespread and workable Wi-Fi. Italian cities rank consistently high on online resources for digital nomads such as NomadList and even small towns and remote provinces are experiencing and increased influx of international travellers. If you are a digital nomad and want to spend a few months in Italy, you should be aware that this is an extremely diverse Country and that, depending on the lifestyle you are aiming for, you should choose different destinations. Check out our tips for digital nomads in Italy!
1. Small towns vs big cities
Digital nomads have different aspirations: some enjoy the metropolitan buzz of a big city, with an exciting nightlife and shared spaces in which to meet other professionals. Others, on the other hand, would rather go for the full “Hemingway experience” and spend time somewhere remote, communing with nature and tiptoeing around the ancient rhythm of life in a village or in the country. The first category usually comprises coders, designers and startuppers, whereas the second is mostly made up of writers, illustrators, artists and the occasional journalist. In Italy, both will find what they are looking for and, in some cases, it is possible to have the best of both worlds, provided that you research your destination first. Big cities (which usually means regional capitals), tend to make life easier for tourists and travellers: you will be able to get through your day without speaking the language and you are more likely to have access to office sharing facilities. This is, of course, a generalisation and you should look into the specific city you are hoping to move to. Places like Milan, Rome or Florence, for instance, cater to international visitors in every possible way: English is widely spoken, there is a vast choice of entertainment, the cultural life is always buzzing and you will enjoy a vibrant, multicultural environment. On the other hand, accommodation is likely to be much more expensive. Small towns will offer you a more relaxed and reasonably-paced lifestyle, a cheaper cost of living and a more authentic sense of local traditions and culture, but you won’t find it as easy to go about your day without speaking Italian and the locals may never have heard of office-sharing. If you want the best of both worlds, you should try looking for accommodation in a small town on the outskirts of the big city of your choice, or in a medium-sized city with good facilities, but not as much mass international tourism.
Before you move to Italy, you should decide how you feel about driving a car. If public transport and bike lanes are essential to your well-being, research your chosen destination to make sure it offers the kind of service you need. While it is perfectly possible to live in Milan or Turin without driving a car, for instance, it might be significantly more frustrating to attempt that in Rome. Smaller cities and towns differ wildly on that account: some have excellent bus services, while others can hardly count on public transportation at all. If your chosen accommodation is in a small town on the outskirts of a big city, consider renting a car. Car sharing services such as Car2Go e DriveNow are relatively common and popular, whereas Uber has a very limited availability due to local regulations.
3. The weather
Italy’s unique shape and position make for an extremely diverse climate, with a variety of natural landscapes and weather conditions that vary dramatically from north to south. While Italy is generally deemed to be a Mediterranean country, it should be noted that its northern regions have much more in common weather-wise with central and northern Europe than with Sicily. Be ready for summer to start in May or early June in Apulia and for people to go swimming in December in parts of Sicily, and for snow to fall thick in April on the Alps. On the other hand, if you expect the winter to be mild in the South, you might be disappointed: while temperatures will never drop as dramatically in Lecce as they do in Aosta, for instance, humidity will make a substantial difference in the way they are perceived. Summer heat can be equally bothersome and more dangerous, making it almost impossible to be outside for the most part of the day in some regions.
4. The best cities for digital nomads in Italy
Among the Italian cities that rank highest on NomadList, Trento scores rather impressively on cost of living, safety, air quality, walkability and startup scene. Padova has the highest score of all, despite the slightly higher cost of living and the nightlife being deemed less than ideal. Pisa, Trieste and Treviso all score high for infrastructure, internet speed, free wi-fi and general quality of life, but are somewhat penalised by a more conservative environment, while Rome, Venice and Florence, while scoring high on nightlife and friendliness to foreigners, deter digital nomads for the high cost of living. Most online resources for digital nomads still haven’t managed to provide a comprehensive list of Italian cities. This is due to the fact that digital nomads have only recently started considered Italy ad a potential destination and most of the Country has yet to meet them in significant numbers. The Apulian sub-region of Salento is currently a favourite candidate to next Italian heaven for digital nomads: a welcoming and increasingly multicultural environment, with cheap cost of living, an exciting nightlife, stunning natural beauty and charming traditions seem to be drawing more and more tourists that end up not wanting to go back.