Tuscany is one of the most beautiful territories in mainland Europe and with its mountainous areas and stunning coastal resorts; there’s a fabulous array of towns and cities where you could choose to relocate to. There is a large Expat community in Tuscany but the locals are also friendly and welcoming so you’ll find a nice balance in the communities.
As a result of huge variations throughout Tuscany the perfect place for you to relocate to will depend on what you are looking for in your new home.
Best Overall City – Florence
Florence is the capital city of Tuscany and is famous for its excellent higher education, fashion industry and its central role in the European Renaissance. Florence is a hotspot for art, architecture and culture highlights that makes it a popular destination for tourists and relocating Expats alike.
Many overseas students, retirees and mid career Expats have chosen to make Florence their home and enjoy a fantastic quality of life at a modest cost. Despite the relatively small size of the city, it really does have everything you could want!
The city center is bustling with life and has great fashion districts to explore during the day and a wonderful selection of restaurants that serve local and international cuisine suitable for every budget. The nightlife is varied and interesting although you won’t find the huge super clubs that stay open all night, instead the venues are more intimate with friendly and welcoming atmospheres.
The city is small enough to get around on a bicycle although the public transport links are modern and extensive. You can quickly catch a taxi across town or hire a car at very reasonable rates – although be prepared to endure the infamous Italian style of driving!
The cost of living in Florence is lower when compared to other cities in Italy, such as Rome or Milan, but you can still enjoy all the aspects of city life and culture. Florence has become a truly international city and has seen an influx of immigrants from around the world – many of which chose to make it their home. This has given the city a diverse metropolitan feel with restaurants and cafes serving food from all cultures. Florence is the best overall city in Tuscany for relocating Expats and with its close proximity to the rustic countryside you can easily take day trips to nearby attractions.
Best City For University – Pisa
Most well known for the Leaning Tower of Pisa that stands in the Piazza del Miracoli, or ‘Miracle Square’ in English, the city has a lot to offer foreign students looking to study in Italy.
The cost of living is much lower than other cities in Italy which is helpful for students who are watching their budgets and with great nightlife and bars, excellent shopping and cultural attractions it’s the best city for university students in Tuscany.
The city has a renowned educational hub, which is known as the Pisa University System and is made up by the University of Pisa, the Sculoa Normale Superiore and the Sant’Anna School. The top institution is the University of Pisa which has more than 20 departments and boasts world class research facilities in numerous fields, including agriculture, computer science, medicine and engineering, to name just a few!
You can get your career off to a fantastic start by studying here and with the wonders of Tuscany at your fingertips to explore, you’re bound to find the inspiration you’re looking for to excel in your studies while learning about the Italian culture.
Best Hill Towns – Siena and Montepulciano
When it comes to hill top cities and towns you’re completely spoiled for choice in Italy’s most popular region, Tuscany. Many of these cities and towns were built on hills to help to protect and fortify themselves during periods in history when life was more dangerous! However, today, they are tranquil places that are just bursting with rural charm and the delights of the finer things in life – wine, food and cultural magnificence.
Siena has two universities, the University of Siena and the Stranieri Siena which specializes in teaching foreign students about the art, language and architecture of Tuscany.
The lovely city of Siena is one of the cultural hearts of Tuscany and as an Expat you’ll be welcomed by the locals and find other foreigners to make friends with. The glorious Siena Cathedral is a magical building that houses original works of art by Michelangelo, Bernini and other masters dating back to the Renaissance period. The city has numerous venues which host local musicians, orchestras and the two theaters put on seasons packed with plays and more.
With excellent transport links from Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can easily access the local countryside or visit other cities in the region, such as Montepulciano, another jewel in the crown of Tuscany.
This hilltop city competes with Siena as one of the best places for Expats to relocate to and is famous for its local wine, cuisine and medieval architecture. Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Renaissance’, Montepulciano offers amazing views across the steep hillside towards the countryside that reaches out for miles with excellent hiking trails and scenery.
The ancient city is full of architectural and historical sites of interest with narrow streets of cafes, bars and restaurants which cater to tourists and locals throughout the year. The most exciting month of the year is August when an uphill barrel pushing contest called the Bravio delle Botti takes place! All the contestants, and many of the attendees, wear medieval costumes, enjoy food from local stands and markets and share wine and stories late into the night.
With museums, artisan boutiques, supermarkets and everything you could need for a full and active life, Montepulciano is one of the finest cities in Tuscany.
Best City On The Coast – Livorno
Located in the north west, the city of Livorno is more than 1000 years old and is built around numerous fortresses that originally protected Pisa from attack. With around 160,000 residents, it’s a small but active city that specializes in ship building and petrochemicals.
The sea side resort is popular with tourists and a favorite location for retirees and other Expats looking for a warm, slow paced and comfortable place to settle down. There’s excellent hiking and paragliding in the area and with the coast on your doorstep day trips to the beach are a must!
Local cuisine is second to none and even though tourism plays a major part in the life of the city, there is still a thriving local economy that serves the residents of the city with more affordable meals, shopping districts and all your regular daily needs.
Best City For Those On A Budget – Volterra
Volterra is my hometown in Italy. I have a small but lovely flat in the historic part of the city, a few minutes walk from Palazzo dei Priori. Volterra is a small city that is perched on a beautiful hill top location and is one of the most affordable places to live as an Expat in all of Tuscany! Despite having only around 12,000 permanent residents the city is spread out over nearly 250 sq. km! This is part of the reason for the low cost of living and slow paced way of life that people are so attracted to. Apartments in Volterra, that require a little bit of renovation, can be bought for $65,000 and upwards or rented from just $250 per month.
Volterra has a wide range of restaurants that serve Tuscan, Italian and many world cuisines and with lots of old taverns and trattorias you can find yourself a few regular haunts to catch up with friends while enjoying a glass of the local wine. Fresh seafood is cheap and plentiful in Volterra as is the pasta, salads and side dishes. Weekly local markets provide great value regionally sourced food so you can cook at home or, if you want to save a bit more money, you can shop in one of the budget supermarkets. You can also explore the smaller boutiques that sell handmade jewelry, woodcrafts, antiques, clothes and the even local specialty cheeses!
The city has so many cultural and historical places of interest that you have to see it for yourself but the Etruscan Museum and the Roman Theater do stand out. As an Expat you can enjoy a superb quality of life at a very low cost and once you arrive you’ll soon find that the local community is open and friendly.
The Best Locations in Tuscany for Expats
Tuscany is full of amazing places to call home and relocating to the region from other countries is surprisingly easy – you’ll soon be welcomed into the local communities and finding your feet in your new life. In fact, if anything, there’s so many lovely places to live in Tuscany that it might be hard to make a decision!
When you choose a new place to move to you want to think about your future aspirations and how the city can help you achieve them. If you’re moving to Tuscany to retire and want a slow pace of life on the coast Livorno would be an ideal location! If you prefer the rustic charms of a hilltop city then Siena or Montepulciano would fit the bill and if you’re searching for a city that’s easy to live on a tighter budget then Volterra is a perfect site for your relocation.