La dolce vita means “the sweet life” and life gets no sweeter than in sunny Italy
Italy has a staggering amount to offer travelers...and residents. Romantic cities, timeless hill towns, snowy mountains, idyllic islands, vineyard-covered countryside, and a rivetingly beautiful coastline. Plus, outside the major cities, homes start at a mere $50,000—or less.
Expats in Italy say they love not only the art, culture, impressive architecture, world-renowned food, and easy access to the rest of Europe, but also the slower pace of life and the culture that prioritizes family and friends over work and to-do lists.
This is the very definition of the sweet life. It’s about surrounding yourself with people you love, taking the time to enjoy even the simplest things—a delicate zucchini blossom, a well-made cup of coffee, the feeling of sand between your toes—and prioritizing the important things in life.
A Slower, Simpler Italian Way of Life
Retirees report that this cultural attitude means the pace of life is slower in Italy, especially outside the main cities. They talk about long coffee breaks with Italian friends and passeggiata (strolls) through the town in the evening. One couple says that they no longer have alarm clocks in their home. Another couple adds that happiness just seems more important to the Italians.
A Surprisingly Affordable Lifestyle
These same expats report that their simpler lives in Italy come with a lower price tag than they would have expected.
In lesser-known, beautiful countryside Le Marche, one couple says their expenses are 80% cheaper than their previous life in New York. In sunny southern Calabria, another expat says a cup of coffee costs just 90 cents, a multi-course meal runs about $34 per person, and health insurance for the entire year is covered by about $230. And in Umbria—Tuscany’s pretty neighbor—one of our correspondents spent less than $2,000 in living expenses per month.
The Italian Visas That Make a Move to Italy Possible
Life in Italy sounds pretty nice…so the next question most people have is: can I do it? Is it legally and logistically possible to make the move?
And the answer is yes.
Italy offers a variety of visas for non-Italians who would like to live in the country. The one most retirees apply for is the elective residence visa, which is designed for retirees and other people who do not need to take a job in Italy. For this, you’ll need proof of financial means, a rental agreement or deed in Italy, and proof of medical insurance that covers you there. They key to this visa is proving that you don’t need to work.
And if you have Italian ancestry, you may be in even better shape. If you have a parent, grandparent, or even great-grandparent born in Italy, you may be eligible for dual citizenship.
In other words, if you’re been dreaming about a move to Italy, your dream just might be more possible than you ever imagined.
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- Population: 61,482,297
- Capital City: Rome
- Climate: Predominantly Mediterranean; Alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
- Time Zone: GMT+1
- Language: Italian
- Country Code: 39
- Location: Southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea
Make your way to the Italian city of Siena for Il Palio on July 2 and witness 10 bareback riders charge through the streets as part of an ancient religious tradition. The Corteo Storico pageant precedes the race and celebrations go on long after the winner has passed the post.
What’s not to love about cultural riches and cobbled charms? Throughout most of Europe, the property market remains in the doldrums, which means you can find bargains. From the Atlantic to the Mediterranean…from Ireland to Greece, there’s a tempting array of move-into properties that will leave you change from €100,000 ($137,000).
With so much to see in Italy, many travelers overlook the country’s beautiful gardens and lose out on a special experience as a result. For these are no ordinary, peaceful patches of green; they are often reflections of artistic expression with exotic designs and formal layouts. The best-known gardens are the elegant, noble estates of Villa d’Este near Rome, the Royal Palace of Caserta close to Naples, and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, but there are other—secret—gardens to explore…
It’s called the “Old World” for a reason, and despite two world wars and decades of development, history is evident in the architecture of Europe. You can stroll cobbled streets where lords and ladies once rushed to galas, climb castle steps in the footsteps of armored knights, and explore villages preserved for 500 years or more.
Spring is here, and in the markets plump porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, and long, elegant brown pears are giving way to figs and basil and zucchini flowers.
Arlene Gibbs was working on a movie in production when she realized she needed a life change. When the production company she worked for closed shortly afterwards she decided it was time to leave Hollywood. “Everything in L.A. was about ‘The Business’,” she said. “Everyone I interacted with at work…at the cafes…even at the gym…was involved in the movie industry.”
You’ve just weighed anchor on another night of bliss, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of your sailboat in the calm sea. Before you is a small cove lined by craggy cliffs. Clear blue waters end at a white-sand beach. You’ve had it all to yourself for the last week. It was supposed to be just an overnight stop. But it was so beautiful, you decided to stick around. After a quick dip, you’re enjoying a cup of coffee and a light breakfast on deck as you contemplate which island paradise you’ll go to next.
If you don’t hold a second passport yet, what’s stopping you? When you hold a second passport, a world of opportunities opens up to help you protect your finances, safeguard your privacy, and to grow your financial nest egg free from high taxes.
Whether it’s for a summer or a lifetime, Italy isn’t only for the wealthy. I first got hooked on la dolce vita when I was young and had very little cash to spare. But as I was in love with the vagabond lifestyle, relative impoverishment was no barrier to doing my own version of a Grand Tour.
Recently, I attended a conference in a college which was introduced by a seasoned media veteran. He acknowledged the advances in technology by describing the whiz-kid students in the audience as “natives of the digital world” while he described his own generation as “digital tourists.”
You have visions of rolling hills dotted with stone farmhouses, sunny piazzas and la dolce vita. A new life in Italy is alluring. That’s why I moved here eight years ago. But before you can start enjoying those sidewalk cafés and open-air markets, there are a few bureaucratic hurdles you’ll need to jump to live legally in Italy.
In the popular imagination, it’s the great capitals of Europe that get the most attention. Tourists flock to Paris, Rome, Madrid, and London for the big-city flair, museums, and monuments. It’s the thing to do. And granted, you should seize any opportunity to stroll the Champs-Élysées on a beautiful spring evening or explore London’s international cuisine and regal parks.
The place that Amy calls “World Headquarters” is a townhouse filled with beautiful objects gathered on her many travels. Wake Up! Your Overseas Life is Just Waiting for You She imports textiles and home décor. Her business was intentionally designed to include plenty of opportunities to feed her wanderlust—and her friends and business associates consider her one of the most creative people they know.
Sitting alongside the banks of the River Garonne in southwest France, the red-tile-roofed city of Toulouse hosts its annual Flamenco Festival from April 1 to 15, with local venues filled with music and dance throughout. Another marathon-length event to consider begins its 18-day run in Jaipur, India, on April 2.
Vacation rentals are a great way for an investor to create an income overseas but, unless they’re living next door, anyone who owns a vacation rental needs someone to manage it for them. Property management is a business you can start with absolutely no investment. You are simply trading your time and effort.
I pull back the curtains, feel the crisp refreshing air, and look out over the waterfront at the colorful buildings of this Art Nouveau town…excited about the “work” day ahead. I’m in picturesque Ålesund, Norway. This jewel-like coastal town is the gateway to Norway’s spectacular Geiranger Fjord making it the perfect base from which to explore the region—and that’s my job for the day.
Europe may be the second-smallest continent by land mass, but it’s extravagantly diverse in geography, climate, language, and culture. From the flamenco-dancing south of Spain to Rembrandt’s tulip-filled homeland, to the rugged cliffs of Italy’s Mediterranean coast, it’s equally rich with opportunity…for gracious travel…comfortable living…even for good-value investing.
Spring is here, and in the markets plump porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, and long, elegant brown pears are giving way to figs and basil and zucchini flowers. In the streets, young women glide along in five-inch heels, leather jackets, and American jeans, chic scarves draped carelessly at their necks. Along the river Arno, newlyweds stroll hand-in-hand in the warm sunshine.
We arrived at our rented villa just in time to see the sun slipping down toward the liquid-blue horizon. Perched on the terrace, we sipped rosé wine bought in a winery down the road and watched as nature splashed a rosy hue across the western sky. Fishermen returning with their catch left a silvery wake in the waning light. One hour in Cilento and we were smitten.
When Melissa Adams stepped out of the airport and into Amsterdam for the first time, it felt like coming home. “The minute my feet hit Damrak—the street leading from Central Station to Dam Square—I said ‘I’m moving here.’ Everything—from the city’s physical beauty to its tolerant vibe and rich history— entranced me.” But while Melissa’s experience of Amsterdam was love at first sight, she also wanted to be practical and make sure her passion had some staying power.
When I reflect upon my lifestyle since becoming a copywriter in 2001—after 20 years in banking in Australia—I know I made the right choice. I started in banking as a clerk at 16, and worked my way up to senior management positions. When I quit my job as a commercial lending manager after 15 years, I was so stressed out from working 80-plus hours a week on multi-million dollar loan applications.
Tom Vercillo is paid to know the best places to wine, dine, and sightsee in scores of cities in the countries lining the Mediterranean. Regularly sampling the region’s finest offerings is just one of many perks in a career that sees him cruising around the Med’s warm waters seven months a year, stopping at exotic new locations almost every day.
There are numerous ways to become an entrepreneur. If you’re Italian, you might be born to it. Just as homes stay in the same family for generations, Italian business-owners commonly pass their enterprises down to their children. If your family made wine, there’s a good chance that you’ll make wine. Even some Venetian gondoliers are following the career path of their fathers and grandfathers.
There is no time clock but you work 24-7… No cubicle but you must have a computer… Your commute occasionally takes 10 to 12 hours, and sometimes it takes days off your calendar. You must be fluent in hand gestures and you better have a strong stomach and a good memory.
In medieval Europe, keeping an eye out for and guarding against invasion—a frequent occurrence in those days—was no easy feat. But one of a nobleman’s greatest defensive weapons was a castle perched on a rocky hilltop near an important mountain pass. The location itself—surrounded by steep cliff—offered protection.
Tom Vercillo is paid to know the best places to wine, dine, and sightsee in the beautiful cities lining the Mediterranean…from Turkey to Italy and beyond. Regularly sampling the region’s finest offerings is just one of many perks in a career that sees him cruising around the Med’s warm waters seven months a year, stopping at exotic new locations almost every day.
Back when my husband and I started to have children, a dear friend began giving us beautiful Christmas village houses every year to collect and someday pass on to our children. Every year, as we unpacked the village, one building at a time, we would imagine what it would be like in a place like it. We would place the china characters carefully, connect the cobblestone paths, and talk about what the crunch of the snow sounded like on Christmas Eve. When it was set up perfectly, we would turn out the lights and the amber glow would pour from the windows and lanterns casting an ethereal radiance befitting the holiday season.
Head back to the Middle Ages as the splendid city of Ascoli Piceno transforms itself back into the bustling medieval city it once was for La Quintana. It’s a high-energy jousting match that rivals the excitement of Siena’s more famous Palio. Near the Adriatic coast, about an hour south of Ancona, Ascoli Piceno has been celebrating this festival every August since the 1300s. Locals in resplendent costumes fill the stunning historic center with colorful banners. Events include flag-throwing competitions, accompanied by drums and trumpets.
It was New Year’s Eve 2012 and the view outside my window was perfect. In the darkness, I could just make out the rolling Italian hills, dotted with brick houses with terracotta rooftops. A lone bell tower rose from a small, ancient church into the sky. And as the bell tolled midnight, the sky lit up with fireworks from three different directions.
There are many benefits to moving overseas: the weather is better, your quality of life will improve and you will always have something to do. Here are a few quick questions that you should ask yourself before moving overseas. 1. What type of weather do you like? If you don’t like the snow then you should…
In the Kisama Heritage Village in Nagaland, northeast India, the Hornbill Festival is a huge celebration of the indigenous warrior tribes of the region. Taking place between December 1 and 7, the festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, a large and colorful forest bird. You’ll need a government permit to visit, but it’s worth it to experience the beauty contest, archery, wrestling, and lots of singing and dancing.
Italians have been throwing good parties since before the Romans perfected the opulent banquet. Every village, town, and city district finds its own reason to celebrate, and with a few millennia of culture, history, and legends to draw on, there are plenty of nation-wide events, too. To help you decide which ones you should really experience, we’ve put together a list of the five most unusual ones from around the country.
My profession has taken me all across the world, experiencing unique journeys…attending world famous events…and meeting fascinating people. And I got paid to do it. I have rung in the New Year at Hogmanay in Edinburgh, danced up a storm at Seville’s April Fair, and was awed by the beauty of Buddha’s birthday celebrations in South Korea. I have ridden camels through the Sahara desert, liberated baby sea turtles in Mexico and swam with sharks in Belize.
I stood in the window of my apartment in Lucca, Italy, concentrating on painting the scene below. The narrow street was filled with the usual locals who were doing their daily marketing and stopping briefly in a centuries-old church to light a candle. As I tried to capture this slice of life on canvas, I looked out to see a pair of tourists aiming their camera at me—the artist in the window above. Once the shutter clicked, they smiled and waved and I waved back. But my own smile was followed by warm satisfaction that I was living a dream: spending several months in Italy so as to really experience the culture and become part of the fabric of local life.
It’s possible to pursue your hobby and bring in some cash before and during retirement. These hobbies can help you to fund your life as a retiree overseas. If you’re dreaming of an apartment in Paris…a beach house in Ecuador…a farmhouse in Italy…and the only thing holding you back is lack of capital…then read on. Your interests can turn into a career that you love…
Two years ago we were both on the corporate treadmill—my husband Michael as a consulting engineer for some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, and I running my own business. While dealing with the challenges of an ever-increasing workload, a dear friend died. It was then that we realized that we had to find the “off” switch for the treadmill.
In a recent survey, International Living asked readers which country they preferred between Italy and France. 43% more of our readers chose Italy as their ideal destination. Voters revealed that they love “the character of the people and their dolce vita lifestyle.” One voter even admitted that “it provides the serenity that I crave. ”
Fifty years ago, if at retirement age you spent a few months in Paris…then moved on to Lisbon for the winter…settled for the spring in Italy…and then steamed down to Panama and Argentina…you were probably either wealthy, eccentric, or running from the law. These days…you’re just a run-of-the-mill vagabond retiree.
Bill and Carol Sansone are the envy of their friends. Acting on their passion for Italy they have gone back year after year to explore regions up and down the peninsula. Since 2005 they’ve taken six different destinations for a “test drive” in search of a future retirement home. “We’ve rented in Tuscany, Umbria, northern Lazio, Lake Como and Torino, settling into life in each locale, opting to walk or take public transit rather than drive…
You’ve made plans, set tentative dates…you’re almost ready to take off on your three- or six-month European tour…the next step is a roof over your head. But the short-term rentals offered online can be sickeningly expensive. Fully furnished and ready to go they may be, but with prices often multiples of those you’ll find on the ground, there are better ways to look.