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Search for place to live - love Tuscany, but too many tourists

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oscgerst
10/17/2017 15:21 EST

After several trips to Italy, we have decided that we would love to spend more time there. Not full-time but buy a place and live 3 months a year there.

We haven't found the right place and I'm looking for advice. I can tell you where we've been and what we've liked and not liked. Like probably all of you, we love the way of life, the culture, and of course the food. I can speak Italian (enough to get by).

Overall we love the beauty of Val d'orcia and specifically Montalcino. It may be a little too small for us, a little too remote, and a few too many tourists, but it's really at the top of the list right now. Love the medieval towns.

We are looking for other ideas for places in Italy. We are looking for someplace big enough to walk around a lot, get to know the people, clean (i.e., limited graffiti - which we seem to see a lot of in different places), convenient to get to by car or train from a major airport.

Some examples of places we have been to and why they are not a match:
- Lucca (in the walls) - probably second on the list because of convenience to get to, love the lack of cars, medieval village, etc...but so many tourists and stores that cater to them.
- Florence - love the city, but too big and of course lots of tourists to get to know it with 3 months there at a time.
- Siena - similar to Florence but on a smaller scale
- Orvieto - dark, just didn't do it for us.
- Spello and Gubbio (Umbria) - not sure, but didn't seem right for us

We prefer an apartment in a town to get to know our neighbors and it seems easier to leave and come back without much work.

We've been to Campania and Abruzzo and like them but haven't found a place (here or other regions) that is:
- something like 5-20,000 people
- convenient to access
- few(er) tourists
- not in the mountains (not interested in a place with snow)
- love the medieval towns and those that are more pristine. (I know this sounds like a silly American, but there's just something magical about these places)

We'll certainly spend more time in any suggested place before buying, but looking for ideas.

Suggestions?

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velvet
10/18/2017 02:27 EST

We did a three month trip this year to look at different places with a view of staying for three months. We went to Padua ( loved it but maybe a bit untidy for you). Lucca couldn’t wait to leave. Siena loved it. Arezzo not for us and I can’t put my finger on why. Viterbo we loved but terrible transport links. Naples never. Previous trips include Verona Spoleto (probably no 2 on the list) Bellagio Milan Orvieto Bologna Trento Bolzano (absolutely gorgeous but probably too cold) Verona.is just ahead because of the river and proximity to the Italian lakes.
In fact the more I think about Verona the more I love it.

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JacksterJam
10/18/2017 04:23 EST

Hi Velvet! Great to read a post from you. I have to agree with you about Lucca and Viterbo. I've considered a move to Arezzo, which I happen to like a lot (except it doesn't have a river), if I could tear myself away from Firenze. lol I also like Verona and have heard many other people sing its praises. Another good option, if one doesn't mind colder winters, is Trento. It's rated as having an excellent quality of life. While I'm not keen on cold winters, I plan to look it over in the future as a possibility. Another small city that I like is Treviso, just 20 minutes north of Venice. I've visited Treviso many times (friends live there) and it's just lovely (it has numerous canals and is often referred to as "Little Venice), but it's a bit too "quiet" for me as a place to live. But, for anyone looking for quiet and lovely, it's a good possibility. Closer to the sea and near Padua, which I also like, is Ravenna. A friend came over on a scouting expedition and chose Ravenna as her place to live. So many, many wonderful options! Anyway, great to see your post. Please do post your future excursions throughout Italy; they're always informative, and fun, to read! Saluti!

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velvet
10/18/2017 04:44 EST

Jackster thank you for your kind words. My all time favourite place is Rome as I’ve learnt I’m a bit of a city girl. On our trip in April I really learnt a lot about myself. We spent a month in Spain and I could move to Seville in a heartbeat. It is a stunning place and we ate and drank very well and did not spend our allotted budget of 100 euros per day for food and sightseeing. In fact we were lucky to spend 70euros per day.
I suffered in the heat in Italy this trip. June and July were far too hot for me which is surprising as we get hotter here in Australia but don’t get the humidity.
I feel I have cheated on Italy by falling in love with Seville. My husband thinks that is so funny. He is not as attached to Italy as I am.
Oh well planning our next trip to France and Northern Spain for April 2018.
Sorry to hijack the topic.

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JacksterJam
10/18/2017 05:54 EST

Velvet, I wish I could have met you and your husband while you were in Italy! Anyway, I've "hijacked" the post as well, but it all (mostly) revolves around places to live in Italy, so not too badly hijacked. Ha! I agree about the heat of summer in Italy, which is why I always spend a month (my annual "heat-relief" trip) in northern European countries during July/August. As for Spain, I have a friend who, for work purposes, spends an equal amount of time in both countries and he has a lot of good things to say about Spain. That's another topic for another time. If you're even in Italy again, please do let me know. Best regards.

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monterinaldo
10/18/2017 06:40 EST

Some medium size city options a little further east close to the Adriatic; Ascoli Piceno, Fermo, Macerata.

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RubyCalle
10/18/2017 07:08 EST

just want to note that while 'tons of tourists' can change the feel of a city or sight and it often cuases tension, especially lately at the local level........ and I understand this as an expat in Spain.... I must always remind myself that I TOO am a tourist in another's country even though I speak fluent Spanish and live amoung the locals.... I am still a tourist.... and a visitor to some extent.

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oscarwildedog
10/18/2017 08:08 EST

I would suggest a town like Gubbio, which is in northern Umbria. As you probably know, Umbria is often called "the poor man's Tuscany," in that people don't know too much about it, as compared to its neighbor. Having lived there, I can tell you that it is just as picturesque as Tuscany, the wines are just as good (although the Tuscan Vino Nobile di Montalcino is my favorite), and the history is just as robust.

Gubbio has a little bit of everything for everybody - it's a working town (meaning it has some industry and employment), has a lot of history (one of the better "small colusseums" in Italy, is up in the mountains, but very temperate and last, but not least, is about as centrally-located as you can get in Italy. It's close enough to major roads without having those roads infringe on the town.

Very few tourists know of this place; people on a schedule or itinerary wouldn't deign to stop here outside their Rome - Venice - Florence - Amalfi Coast route.

Finally, some of the better restaurants I have had the pleasure to visit are located in Gubbio - they "cook to the seasons," meaning the artichokes, truffles, tomatoes, et al are highlighted during their respective growing seasons.

The rest of Umbria is great, as well. Your're relatively close to Perugia, Assissi and Spoleto, which are the more well-known locations in Umbria.

Having said all this, the Le Marche region is all the rage now, if the mags and PR is to be believed.

The final thing I will say is that I've been coming to Italy to work, visit - or live - for the last 30 years. I'm STILL finding new things about Italy than I never knew. Currently, I'm spending a lot of time in Puglia, Campagnia and Basilicata.

OK, one more thing: Please read as much as you can about Italy from the Rough Guides - I find them the best sources of information. But DO read books written by expats vis a vis their particular route or journey they took to find their paradise in Italy. My favorite was written by one of the stars of "LA Law" (Michael Tucker) who is married to another actress on that show. It's called "Living in a Foreign Language." I found it a great read because of the way they decided to eventually visit and live in Italy. Initially, they were going to take a 30 or 60 day vacation and check out stops along the way for guidance and inspiration. Spoiler alert: they got as far as Umbria.

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Sergios
10/18/2017 10:51 EST

Seville gets hot also

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whidden39
10/18/2017 11:18 EST

Puglia gets hot in summer, but it is nearly always dry. Beautiful, clean beaches along the Adriatic and Ionian shores provide luxurious comfort. I hate humidity, but I find summer in Puglia a wonderful season with many festivals and very economical dining. Tourism is within bounds and the people are very patient and accessible. The cost of living is low and the quality of life is high. Nice balance. Two airports serve the region and trains also serve the area well. I think the worst of winter is mid-December to mid-February; but even during those times a sunny day can provide an opportunity for a nice lunch outdoors. However, winters, while mild, tend to be damper, cloudier, and rainier than the rest of the calendar. This is the time you can let nature have its way in the garden. Spring is glorious as is fall. Climate was a big draw for me and minimal or no snow was Puglia's calling card. The rhythms of life here are soothing. After visiting most areas of Italy and some of the islands over many years of travel, I feel I made the right choice for my new home in retirement. It's a real place for those who are looking for a nurturing home, not a vacation.

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velvet
10/18/2017 14:25 EST

Sergios. Yes it does but we were there in May and it was just right. As I said I would never go to Italy or Spain for that matter in June July again and would go late March to May or for the winter. I am one of these weirdos who love the cold. Sadly my husband isn’t.

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Glennpeterbarnes
10/18/2017 16:33 EST

Hi there, I would suggest a trip to Puglia. The medieval towns are beautiful, not too touristy, fabulous climate and beaches. Search Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Monopoli, Polignano a Mare, Cisternino and many more. Lovely old style apartments from 100.000 euro plus and friendly beautiful people plus fabulous food! We live here partime from Australia and love it. Sue

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katabiel
10/18/2017 19:35 EST

Have to agree with widden.
Puglia has much to offer. Prefer country living and like being in an area, with a minimum of tourists and great wine. Cost of living is very low and locals treat us very, very well

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maluza86
10/18/2017 19:46 EST

No, non venite in Puglia ;-)

Agree, Puglia has a lot to offer...great weather, great beaches, a lot to see and do and living is non-hectic.

@nononveniteinpuglia

https://it-it.facebook.com/no.nonveniteinpuglia/

www.thepictaram.club/instagram/nononveniteinpuglia

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whidden39
10/19/2017 03:03 EST

Thanks for the links to fantastic photos of Puglia. Will keep this as a guide to future explorations of this enchanting quarter of Italy.

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marchelive
10/19/2017 10:13 EST

Definitely check out Umbria and Marche. They are both similar to Tuscany but without the crowds of tourist.

I've heard a lot about Puglia on this forum. I went there on vacation a couple years ago. I drove down from Marche and passed thru the center of Puglia from the north to the southern tip. Reminded me a lot of Texas! Yea the costal areas are nice but travel inland and it looks a bit bleak. Nothing like traveling thru Umbria or Marche with their lush rolling hills.

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Sergios
10/19/2017 10:18 EST

Texas! True. Puglia and Sicily are just about the coast. Unless you like baking a few months a year.. And every summer seems hotter than the last.

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majgroves
10/19/2017 10:24 EST

marchelive,

I could not have described it any better!
Puglia = Texas.
Le Marche = California

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francinecasalinolaura
10/19/2017 16:45 EST

Take a look at Lecce (the Florence of the South) as well as Ostuni. (the white city). I'm They are 2 of my favorite cities in Puglia. Both are on my short list for consideration.

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lifelover
10/19/2017 16:53 EST

Love Puglia! So much to explore! Great food and wine!

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maluza86
10/20/2017 01:24 EST

...and what's wrong with Texas?? Many of us don't particularly like California (I'm neither a Texan nor a Californian)...personal preferences...just like here in Italy.

The South has become renown for it's beautiful beaches, warm friendly, welcoming locals, and very moderate temperatures...(it may get a little warm in August, but otherwise...very nice). In fact, it's becoming more and more well-known outside of Italy as well...both a good and bad thing.

Many, many medieval towns with a lot of history and interesting dialects. In fact, the town I live in San Vito Dei Normanni, justly named as it was invaded and taken over by the Normans at one point...the dialect has a lot of Arab influence as does a lot of the architecture in the Area.

Ostuni, Lecce, Polignano a Mare, Otranto, Alberobello, Gallipoli, Brindisi, Martina Franca, Santa Maria de Leuca, Cisternino, Taranto....to name a few ;-)

So as we say down here...no, non venite a Puglia...we'd like to keep it all to ourselves....:-)

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Sergios
10/20/2017 02:24 EST

Why do you take it as an insult to Puglia? The interior of Puglia is closer to texas than say NY. Its just a fact Puglia is not about the interior, it's about the coasts.

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marchelive
10/20/2017 02:37 EST

maluza86, since you asked, Texas like Puglia, gets very hot and lacks color. For that reason, after living in Marche for 4 years, I could never live in Puglia. One other thing I found in Puglia that you won't find in Marche is all the litter along the inland roads. It's rather depressing until you hit the beautiful coast.

In Marche we also have beautiful beaches, many medieval towns, and friendly people rich in dialect. Sound familiar? To top it off, our summer months are pleasant and not Texas hot.

Open this link and see what I mean: https://youtu.be/F6PNvmZs1gE

The original poster loves Tuscany but not the tourist. It only makes sense to check out Umbria and Marche. As you said, it's personal preference.

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Sergios
10/20/2017 03:17 EST

Southern Italy, more so than northern, has a sense of private versus public space that is the source of what you see concerning trash on the streets. Houses are behind locked gates with visual screening. Whats is inside those gates is typically beautifully landscaped and clean properties. That is private space. What is outside is the public space. Other people's space and other peoples problem. Trash, dog shist, crumbling sidewalks, are other peoples problems and the towns, since they are hurting for money, do not provide the services need to maintain those public spaces. This is a real problem when the economy of these areas is very dependent on tourism. This has nothing to do with Texas or California, it has to do with an ancient cultural traditions that needs to change. Or not.

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maluza86
10/20/2017 03:42 EST

Marchelive, Sergio et al, I apologize if the beginning of my last post came off as an affront, it was not intended as such, but a tongue in cheek opening...lost in the written word.

Many good points here about different regions in Italy, the good, the bad and the ugly. Marchelive makes some good points about lack of color...but that's only in the summer months, the rest of the year in the south, things green up and there are many different flora blooming throughout the winter months.

I have been traveled all around Italy and for me, I have connections to San Vito Dei Normanni and Puglia, my wife is from here and I spent a lot of time at the USAF base in San Vito during the 90s before it closed.

Personally I would love to live in the Northern part of Italy...I love the mountains, but alas, family ties keep me in the South. All I was trying to purvey was for those interested in moving to check out all the regions, they all have so much to offer, are extremely different with regard to climate, politics, lifestyle, cleanliness, etc...

Sergio, you hit the nail on the head with regard to the way those in Southern Italy think...my wife reminds me of that all the time when we complain about the trash and why people insist on throwing their trash along the sides of the road, especially when recycling is so easy as is either putting your trash in the bin for collection each night, or taking it to the local trash/recycling center....always amazes me to see bags of trash across the street from a recycling/trash center :-(( alas, I digress.

We do love Puglia as well, especially in the summertime with all the festivals, beaches and things to do...but we also travel regularly around the other parts, best of both worlds :-)

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velvet
10/20/2017 07:33 EST

Although we have only visited Naples and day trips to Procida and Caserta i was quite shocked at the difference between the north and south. I thought I had prepared myself by doing lots of research, but I was still shocked.
I am prepared to admit I want to live somewhere where the surrounding area is attractive.
I did have trouble adapting to the rubbish issue. Something that I am just not used to, and probably wouldn’t get used to.

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Sergios
10/20/2017 09:22 EST

The abandoned dog issue is worse for me. I am currently feeding 15 ferrel cats, most born in the last 6 months. I know I'm contributing to the problem but I can't watch them starve. I also provide food for several dogs.

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dlloydie
10/21/2017 22:09 EST

I really enjoyed reading your post! I just returned from a wonderful trip visiting many of the hill towns in Umbria and, of course, have fallen in love with the area. I would like to return next Feb 2018 for three months to study Italian and was looking to stay in Spoleto.
Do you have any suggestions on the best language immersion school in the Umbria area? I really loved the smaller "village" feel of Spoleto.

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foxwhite1
11/24/2017 23:13 EST

curious as to why you could not wait to leave Lucca? My wife and I will be spending two months in Lucca as our base this Jan and Feb, attending a language school and exploring the region, much like you as we seek a semi-permanent base.

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velvet
11/25/2017 01:37 EST

We found Lucca too small and for some reason I felt it was suffocating. I also found there was not enough to do there. But that’s ok as this why we went to these types of towns. I realised that I would have to live in a bigger town, as I like to be a bit anonymous.

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Sergios
11/25/2017 01:49 EST

I like "subburbs" of medium to larger cities. Subburbs not in the sense of sprawl but smaller towns that are close to larger cities that give you the benefits of both. The towns must have their own reasons to exist, not just houses but a town center, perhaps a harbor and it has to be visually pleasing. There are many such places.

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susannapinelli
1/23/2018 10:18 EST

hi! I hope to be helpfull to you. I am now living in an amazing small town only 6 kms far from FLorence, is Fiesole. IN Fiesole y can enjoy a real life with all amenities but not being in the caos of the city! Where we live now is 5 kms out of Fiesole, which means that y need a car to live here BUT.... is a smalla village of 45 families, inside the famous ANTINORI VINEYEARD! we have our own garden, ouw parking place, own entrance but we are together with many others, italian americans, and more! We will moove in the next month to Portugal so will be happy to rent y or to sell if y prefer!

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minturnopat
1/27/2018 11:17 EST

We live in Minturno. No snow here. On the railway between Rome and Naples. The Medieval part of town is on a small hill two Ks from the beach. 5 Ks of beach in town, nature preserves and 10 Ks to the mountains. Lots of housing available cheap. The town is busy the 2nd half of Aug but what beach town in Italy isn't. Restaurants, shops, and markets are all short walks in town. We have lived here 3 years and feel at home and welcome here.

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LyndaPlatts
1/30/2018 06:37 EST

Hi, Have you thought about Piedmonte. There are several medium size towns such as Cuneo, Alba and Bra all of which are very attractive. The scenery around this area is fabulous and much of it is within the UNESCO world Heritage site which covers the Langha Hills. Renowned for good wines, still very italian and few ex pats, we love it and are moving there soon.

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AirborneSpoon
1/30/2018 21:26 EST

I enjoy seeing and living near tourist destinations. It reminds me how cool of a place that i live in. So cool, people pay to go there and I’m lucky enough to live here.

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AirborneSpoon
1/30/2018 21:26 EST

I enjoy seeing and living near tourist destinations. It reminds me how cool of a place that i live in. So cool, people pay to go there and I’m lucky enough to live here.

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Sergios
1/31/2018 01:26 EST

I live in a place that on nice winter weekends and all summer is overrun by tourists. But at other times, like the Piazza in Cinema Paradiso, it's all mine! And my wife's. And the locals that are now friends.

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