Milan is the best city in Italy, according to PWC

milan best city pwc

The worldwide firm network and auditor PWC has recently released the 7th edition of their Cities of Opportunities report, assessing the social and economic assets and the overall quality of life of 30 major cities in the world. Milan ranked 13th, scoring very respectably, particularly in terms of security and sustainability, and establishing itself as the Italian city with the best life quality standards. While this notion may surprise and even upset many, it will undoubtedly put a further boost onto the already blooming economic life of the city. We agree that the idea of living standards, as expressed by the Pwc classification, is best taken with a grain of salt, given that London, Paris, New York and Singapore all rank in the first positions, making it clear that an easy and affordable pace was not among the qualifying criteria for this particular selection. It is significant, however that cultural offer, economic growth and environmental policies were part of the Cities of Opportunities study and in all of those Milan scored higher than most of its European counterparts. What makes Milan the place to be in 2017?

Building the future on history

The Italian national identity has forever been linked to traditional values and has therefore paid the price of being perceived as looking back at the past rather than forward into the future. The feud between Rome and Milan – which might occasionally be made up to seem harsher than it actually is – is not so much a clash of values, as a disagreement over how those values should be put into action. While Rome is unique in the sheer amount of historical landmarks that line its streets and has developed a unique way of incorporating them in its bustling contemporary existence, Milan’s heritage is less pervasive and demanding – but no less relevant or impressive. This allowed for a different perspective: Milan is appropriately proud of its history, but treats it like a solid foundation on which to build rather than a treasure to protect and preserve. A perfect example of this are the many historic buildings that host museums and permanent exhibitions, but double as corporate event venues.

Milan: an international hub of business and culture with a human pace

Cities are complex organisms, in whose existence balance is the result of a constant negotiation of conflicting elements. The needs of business and economic growth must be met and opportunities must be created in order for a city to grow, but growth has to be tempered with policies that ensure safety, sustainability, good infrastructure and the inhabitants’ general wellbeing. In recent years, Milan has excelled at maintaining such balance. Milan has built a strong reputation as a business-friendly city, with several major trade-shows taking place each year and several industries electing it as their own chosen capital. The fashion industry is probably the best known example, but by no means the only one. Milan also boasts a lively startup scene and a vibrant cultural life, with new trends and experimentations held in as much regard as the pillars of classical art and established culture. All of this has been brought together into a working system that manages to keep a human pace, thanks in no small measure to its good infrastructures. Milan scored particularly high in the Pwc study was with regard to environmental policies and sustainability, safety and healthcare, all of which show a vested interest in not trading life enhancing policies for business-enhancing policies.

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Treasuring the past, living in the present, planning for the future

Environmental policies, particularly the ones concerning the transit of vehicles in the city center, have been the object of much speculation and debate – and the fact that Milan has scored marginally worse with regard to air cleanliness than any other environmental criterion proves that further debating is needed. There is no doubt, however, that the city’s capacity for action on these issues has contributed to earning it the place it occupies in the Pwc ranking. Protecting the central and oldest neighbourhoods from traffic and pollution also means acknowledging the importance and uniqueness of those particular geographical areas and the need to keep them safe, clean and intact, because they belong to humanity as a whole, rather than to those who live in or near them. At the same time, such politics always take into account the needs of businesses and individuals that currently contribute to the wealth of the city, making it accessible with excellent transport and sensible business policies. Finally the city has been managed with a positive attitude, aiming for economic and cultural development. This balance, on the whole, makes Milan the place to be.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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