Milan is a thriving metropolis and the capital of Lombardy in the North West of Italy. It’s a popular city for Expat relocation but the surrounding towns also have a lot to offer while still allowing easy access to Milan for shopping, work and sightseeing on the weekends.
More and more Expats are realizing that thanks to the excellent public transport system in Italy they can save a lot of money, live in a picturesque rural idyll and enjoy the very best of the Dolce Vita by opting to relocate to one of the small towns in the vicinity of Milan.
Why Move To A Small Town Near Milan?
There are many personal and financial reasons why Expats choose to live in one of the small towns near Milan instead of opting to live in the city itself.
- You can enjoy a much higher standard of living in the countryside than you can in a busy city.
- The cost of living is far lower in a small town than it is in Milan.
- Property prices in the small towns are surprisingly low! In fact, in many cases you buy a nice sized 3 bedroom apartment for as little as 50,000 Euros.
- There’s a stronger sense of community in the countryside which means you can really get to know your neighbors and become a valued member of the town.
- Crime rates are lower in the small towns which means it’s safer to raise children.
- The pace of life is more relaxed in rural parts of Italy so you can experience the genuine Dolce Vita!
- Excellent modern transport links mean that you can still access Milan, and other nearby cities, with ease, even if you’re living fairly remotely in a small town or village.
- You live a healthier lifestyle in the countryside with lower levels of pollution and plenty of opportunities to go hiking and spend time outdoors.
The Best Small Towns Near Milan.
Lombardy is a beautiful region that has mountains, lakes, forests, a thriving agricultural sector as well as a whole array of unique small towns that have ancient cultural heritages, historical sites of interest and warm, friendly communities that welcome new arrivals.
Bellagio, located 70 km due North of Milan, is a truly enchanting little town that is both a rich cultural hub and a popular destination for tourists who want to get off the regular beaten path. The town sits on the shores of Lake Como and, in fact, it’s so beautiful that it has been nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Lake Como’!
The area is famous for its splendid villas and stunningly ornate gardens but there are also much more reasonably priced properties on offer. Of course, if you have a large budget for relocation then you can find some really palatial mansions to make your new home, however for most Expats something less ostentatious is usually a more realistic choice.
Consequently, property prices in Bellagio are extremely varied which means there’s something for everyone. A modest, 3 bedroom apartment in the town center starts from around 120,000 Euros whereas a medium sized hillside villa starts from around 750,000 Euros.
For Expats who love the outdoors and enjoy exploring the natural world then Bellagio is an ideal option for relocation. You can go hiking around Lake Como, take boat trips to other villages around the lake or visit any one of the many wineries and other farms in the surrounding countryside.
Bellagio also has a lovely array of lakeside restaurants, cafes, promenades and a number of modern and classical art galleries. You really can find a divine mix of cultural sites and natural beauty in Bellagio. One of the town’s most famous landmarks is the 12th Century Basilica of San Giacomo in which you can see a wooden statue that depicts the belt of Madonna and has been a site of religious devotion for generations.
However, if you want to visit Milan or commute to the city for work, then it’s a 1 hour 30 minute drive by car. Many Expats who live around Lake Como chose to commute on a weekly basis and only return home for a relaxing weekend.
The Medieval town of Bienno is best known for its Market Exhibition which brings in visitors from all over Northern Italy. Often referred to as the ‘artist’s village’, Bienno has a tradition that stretches back for centuries as a home to creatives of all stripes.
Situated just over 100 km to the North East of Milan, Bienno is surrounded by forested mountains and panoramic views. The town itself is full of ornate courtyards, cozy cafes, restaurants and small galleries. The perfect place to escape the chaotic city life, Bienno has an old world atmosphere that is brimming with traditional arts and crafts.
Property prices in the town are extremely reasonable with a 4 roomed semi-detached house going for as little as 120,000 Euros. Smaller accommodation can be purchased for 50,000 Euros and upwards which makes Bienno a great option for Expats on a tighter relocation budget.
There’s a lot to see and do in the small town including the Mill and Forge Museum, the Ethnographic Museum of Iron, Arts and Popular Traditions as well as the Casa Valigia which hosts regular workshops and exhibits throughout the year.
There’s also superb hiking trails so you can safely explore the forested valleys that surround the town. Bienno is a good place to bring up a family but it might be even better suited to Expats who want to retire in a rural community within easy reach of Milan.
Each year the town hosts the Bienno Market Exhibition which celebrates all kinds of arts of crafts from the past and present. At the exhibitions you can see paintings, sculptures and a whole range of locally produced arts and crafts. You can also see artisans at work in their studios and, if you want to, purchase some of their pieces to remember the experience and support their future careers.
The culinary delights of Bienno can also be found in abundance since the area is well known for its dairy produce, organic farms and wines. Some of the best local dishes of Bienno include ravioli that is stuffed with roasted meat, regionally made sausages, Polenta and a whole range of handmade cheeses. Of course, you simply have to taste the local dessert, Spongada, which is a type of soft focaccia, to fall in love with Bienno’s culinary traditions!
65 km to the North West of Milan, Angera is a beautiful lakeside town with a permanent resident population of less than 6000 people! The friendly community is extremely welcoming and offers a fantastic opportunity for Expats who want to experience a quieter life amongst the stunning scenery on the lake shore.
Despite feeling like it’s a world away from the bustle of Milan, you can get to the city by train or car within 1 hour 30 minutes; with regular train services running to Milan throughout the day.
There are more than 40 sites of artistic and historical interest in and around the small town. It also has several restaurants including a pizzeria, a fine dining establishment and several cafes.
Property prices in Angera are far cheaper than in Milan and offer a much more spacious lifestyle. You can purchase a large 3 bedroom flat for as little as 50,000 Euros or a 3 bedroom detached house from 150,000 Euros and upwards.
Some of the most popular activities for Expats in Angera include cycling around the lake shore, hiking in the woods, exploring the surrounding countryside and taking weekend trips to Milan for shopping and sightseeing.
All in all, you can create a wonderful new life in Angera and whether you’re an ambitious professional couple or looking to retire, this small town near Milan is one of Northern Italy’s best kept secrets. With superb property prices, great transport links and astounding scenery to enjoy, Angera is a location that should certainly be near the top of your list of options when you’re considering relocating to Northern Italy.
Grosio – The Best Small Alpine Town Near Milan.
This picture perfect Alpine town is located around 130 km North East of Milan, close to the Swiss border. The skiing town has a permanent population of just over 4300 and is one of the most spectacular locations in the region.
Ideal for an outdoorsy couple or family who enjoy skiing in the winter and swimming in lakes and exploring the forests during the summer, Grosio will give you a genuine taste of life in the Italian Alps. Not only are there plenty of nearby ski slopes but the whole Sondria province is famous for its ski resorts!
The area is extremely peaceful and tranquil; although it does attract tourists, particularly in the ski season, you’ll never feel overwhelmed by the crowds like you would in Milan.
Property prices in Grosio vary quite considerably. You can buy a small village style house for under 50,000 Euros whereas a modern 4 bedroom apartment with a private garage starts at around 120,000 Euros. Alternatively, you can buy a traditional chalet just outside of the town for about 250,000 Euros.
This makes the town great value for money and the perfect place to find a home from home away from the stresses of the hectic modern world. There are not many work opportunities in the area so it would be a great choice for Expats who are able to work remotely and don’t need to commute to Milan on a regular basis. However, when you do want to visit Milan it’s only a 3 hour drive through the incredible mountain scenery to reach the center of the city.
One of the most unique historical features of the town are the ancient carvings in the nearby Rock Engraving Park of Grosio. Here you can see figures engraved onto the rocks that date right back through the 4th to 1st Millennium BC! It’s one of the biggest engraved rocks in the Alps and includes images of humans, geometric designs and animals.
There are also two castle ruins outside the town, the Castello Nuovo and the Castello Vecchio. In the center of Grosio you can visit the 16th Century church of San Giorgio where you can admire the unique frescoes that were painted by the artist Cipriano Valorsa. There’s also a villa, the Villa Visconti-Venosta, that has been renovated and transformed into a museum that showcases regional artifacts and elements of the town’s history.
However, in general, life in Grosio is quiet and based on spending time in the great outdoors. So if you’re considering moving to Grosio don’t forget your hiking boots!
Living In A Small Town Near Milan.
Life outside of the metropolitan city of Milan is much more relaxed and will afford you an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the genuine Dolce Vita. Property prices are very competitive in the smaller towns and so you can purchase a spacious, beautiful home for you and your family, even on a relatively tight budget.
When you’re considering a move to Milan you should always remember that it’s easy to get from the nearby towns into the city. This means that you don’t need to miss out on the sight seeing, shopping and cultural highlights of Milan because you choose to live outside of the city.