Revealed: The best (and worst) Italian cities to live in for women

A new 2021 quality of life index has ranked Italian provinces based on their liveability for women. Find out how your favourite part of Italy scored.

What are the best places to live in Italy as a woman?
What are the best places to live in Italy as a woman? Miguel MEDINA / AFP

As with so many things in Italy, provinces, cities and regions show substantial variation when it comes to quality of life.

Job opportunities, quality of public transport networks, climate, and leisure activity options are some of the key factors usually taken into account by surveys examining the pros and cons of living in different parts of Italy.

But when it comes to the best and worst places to live in Italy, one survey has taken into account factors that may improve the standard of living for female residents.

On Monday, the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore released the 2021 edition of its annual quality of life survey; and for the first time this year, the survey looks specifically at quality of life indicators for women in different parts of the country.


Metrics include life expectancy at birth, employment rates, the gender wage gap, rates of sexual violence, Olympic medals won by women and their overall performance in sports events, and percentages of female-run businesses and women in management roles across the public and private sectors.

Italy scores poorly in global rankings for equal opportunities at work and in politics, education and health, with high (and rising) rates of female unemployment and a persistently low percentage of women in top management roles.

The picture is not always the same across the country however, as the findings of Il Sole 24 Ore’s survey appear to illustrate.

Topping the list of best towns and cities for woman is the northeastern city of Treviso. It scores highest overall and for female infant life expectancy, and ranks among the top five Italian towns for female youth employment rates.

In second place is Prato in Tuscany, which has the lowest gender wage gap of any province in the country. Nearby Siena, which comes in third overall, is fifth for life expectancy and seventh for the percentage of company directorships held by women.

The top ten positions are predominantly occupied by provinces in the centre-north, with the regional capitals of Florence and Bologna coming in fifth and tenth place respectively.

Bigger cities like Milan and Rome did not make the top ten in this ranking – nor did any part of southern Italy.

The top ten Italian cities to live in as a woman.

The top ten Italian cities to live in as a woman. Source: Il Sole 24 Ore.

Here are the top five towns and cities to live in for women based on specific criteria:

Best female infant life expectancy rates at birth

  1. Treviso
  2. Perugia
  3. Prato
  4. Cagliari
  5. Siena

Lowest rates of (reported) sexual violence

  1. Treviso
  2. Perugia
  3. Prato
  4. Cagliari
  5. Siena

Highest female employment rates

  1. Bologna
  2. Trieste
  3. Bolzano
  4. Milan
  5. Aosta

Milan performs well when it comes to female employment rates.

Milan performs well when it comes to female employment rates. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Highest female youth employment rates

  1. Bolzano
  2. Biella
  3. Ferrara
  4. Sondrio
  5. Cuneo

Smallest gender employment gap

  1. Aosta
  2. Cagliari
  3. Trieste
  4. Milan
  5. Nuoro

Smallest gender wage gap

  1. Prato
  2. Oristano
  3. Enna
  4. Rome
  5. Imperia


Highest percentage of women directors in companies

  1. Savona
  2. Imperia
  3. South Sardinia
  4. Aosta
  5. Terni

Highest percentage of woman city managers

  1. Ravenna
  2. Cagliari
  3. Prato
  4. Bologna
  5. Modena

The bottom thirty spots are all occupied by central-southern towns and regions, with Caltanissetta in Sicily in last place.

Overall, regional capitals tend to perform relatively poorly compared to smaller cities and towns. Turin, Rome and Milan come in 24th, 27th, and 33rd out of 107. Palermo ranks 86th, and Naples comes a dismal 105th place.  

Given that the centre-north does best overall, it’s perhaps surprising that it’s northern cities that score the worst in areas like percentages of female-run companies and women directorships.

READ ALSO: Rome and Milan ranked ‘worst’ cities to live in by foreign residents – again

Milan ranks at the very bottom in the first of those two categories, with only 17.2 percent of its companies run by women; while Bolzano comes 106th and Trento 105th. When it comes to the female directorships of companies, these positions are slightly shuffled: Bolzano comes last place, Trento 105th, and Milan 103rd.

The top 50 Italian towns and cities to live in for women overall, according to the 2021 Il Sole 24 Ore survey:

  1. Treviso
  2. Prato
  3. Siena
  4. Savona
  5. Firenze
  6. Varese
  7. Pisa
  8. Ferrara
  9. Aosta
  10. Bologna
  11. Macerata
  12. Perugia
  13. Ravenna
  14. Trieste
  15. Cagliari
  16. Monza and Brianza
  17. Udine
  18. Arezzo
  19. Livorno
  20. Modena
  21. Nuoro
  22. Forlì-Cesena
  23. Biella
  24. Turin
  25. Lecco
  26. Ancona
  27. Rome
  28. Fermo
  29. Cremona
  30. Grosseto
  31. Verbano-Cusio-Ossola
  32. Padua
  33. Milan
  34. Pordenone
  35. Cuneo
  36. Reggio Emilia
  37. Novara
  38. Venice
  39. Lucca
  40. Pistoia
  41. Verona
  42. Terni
  43. Bolzano
  44. Vicenza
  45. Asti
  46. Trento
  47. Rieti
  48. Isernia
  49. Pavia
  50. Pesaro and Urbino

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What changes about life in Italy in March 2022?

From the gradual easing of Covid restrictions to the clocks jumping forward an hour, here's what to expect in Italy in March.

What changes about life in Italy in March 2022?

International travel rules change

From March 1st, Italy will allow all fully-vaccinated or recently-recovered travellers from non-EU countries to enter the country without the additional need for a negative Covid test.

Any of a vaccination certificate, certificate of recovery or a negative test result will allow extra-EU arrivals entry into Italy without any quarantine requirement – so unvaccinated travellers and those not recovered from Covid-19 will be able to enter the country with just proof of a negative test.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s travel rules change in March

Passengers can present certificates of recovery, vaccination or testing in digital or paper format.

All arrivals will still need to complete a digital passenger locator form (dPLF) – find the instructions and download link here.

See further details of the upcoming changes to the travel restrictions here.

International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day (la Giornata internazionale dei diritti della donna or simply la Festa della Donna in Italian) and while it’s not any kind of official holiday in Italy, it’s still widely recognised in the form of small-scale celebrations or marches and demonstrations.

You can expect to see bunches of feathery yellow mimosa flowers pop up in florists’ stalls, as it’s traditional in Italy to give these to a woman on International Women’s Day. 

According to Italian Marie Claire, the flower was chosen by early 20th century activists Rita Montagnana and Teresa Mattei both because it can readily be found flowering in the countryside in March, and because despite its delicate appearance, it’s deceptively strong and resilient.

Hospital visits for relatives and food and drink returns to cinemas

Following a unanimous vote by the Italian parliament’s Social Affairs Commission, March 10th is the date on which it will once again become possible for family members to visit their relatives in hospital.

READ ALSO: TIMELINE: When will Italy ease its coronavirus restrictions?

Those who are fully vaccinated and boosted will reportedly be able to access health facilities to visit their relatives without any further requirements, while people who haven’t received a booster shot will need a negative test to enter.

From the same date, it will also be possible to eat and drink in Italy’s cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports stadiums, Italian news media reports.

Italy’s government had banned the consumption of food and beverages in these venues last Christmas Eve in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. 

Rome marathon

On March 27th, Rome will host its annual marathon once again.

Starting and ending by the Colosseum, the 26 mile course takes runners along the Tiber and past numerous historic sites including the ancient Roman Circo Massimo chariot race track, the Spanish Steps, Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica, to name a few.

That means if you’re planning on travelling around central Rome on this date, you should prepare for most of the roads to be cordoned off and for traffic to be significantly diverted.

The race starts at 8.30am, and the maximum completion time is six and a half hours. For those who aren’t fans of running, the event also welcomes power walkers, according to its official website.

The Rome marathon starts and ends at the Colosseum. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

The clocks go forward

March 27th is also the date Daylight Savings Time begins: the clocks jump forward at 2am, and everyone loses an hour of sleep.

While the EU voted in 2019 to scrap DST by 2021, a combination of Covid, Brexit, and an intra-EU stalemate (the EU Council and the EU Commission each insists the other needs to act first before anything can be done) has delayed putting a stop to the clock change, which means it will go ahead once again this March.

READ ALSO: Clocks go back in Italy despite EU deal on scrapping hour change

Italy, for one, is glad of the delays, having previously filed a formal request that the current system be kept in place.

That’s because in southern countries such as Italy or Spain daylight savings actually lengthens the days, helping people save on their energy bills – while in northern Europe the change doesn’t bring any such benefits.

Italy’s state of emergency ends

Italy’s current state of emergency or stato di emergenza, in place since January 31st, 2020, will end on March 31st, 2022, Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced at a business conference on February 23rd. 

The state of emergency is the condition which has allowed the Italian government to bring in emergency measures by decree over the past two years.

READ ALSO: Italy to end Covid state of emergency and cut ‘super green pass’, PM confirms

Bringing the state of emergency to an end doesn’t automatically mean that all current restrictions will be immediately dropped; however Draghi has already confirmed that after March 31st, some rules will be removed.

These include the abolition of Italy’s four-tiered colour coded system of Covid restrictions; the removal of outdoor mask mandates throughout Italy; and an end to the requirements for schoolchildren to wear high-grade FFP2 masks in the classroom or to quarantine if one of their classmates tests positive for the virus.