Anyone have any advice as to the best and worst places to live in Italy?

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    Feb 01, 2013 7:57 AM GMT
    In order to insure my kids grow up with an expanded world view, enriched cultural experiences, and have multiple language skills, I will be moving my family to Italy in June of this year. I want to avoid the normal tourist areas and live somewhere that is rich in history, kid friendly, safe, and reasonable rental rates. Also I would like a place that is safe and accepting of gays in the event I would like to go on a date, have a night out, and not have my kids exposed to anti-gay bigotry.

    I'm considering Palermo because of the weather, the incredible views, and cheap rental rates; but, I worried about how socially conservative and safe the area is. From an outsider point of view, Sicily appears to be rather intolerant and conservative.

    I'm also leaning toward northern Italy, especially the Liguria and Piemonte regions due to the rich history and the proximity to France and Switzerland. Plus, snow during the winter would be nice.

    Anybody from Italy or well traveled have any advice? The move is a "done deal" and all I need is the final destination. I'd appreciate some input. Thanks.
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    Feb 01, 2013 3:13 PM GMT
    I'm italian.
    In general, the more you get to the North, the richer the regions and the more expensive it gets. Salaries and cost of living in the North are up to 1/3 higher than the average, and double the South standards. To compare it, northern regions have a standard of living comparable to the Netherlands, while southern regions have more or less Portuguese standards. it's a huge gap and one of the historical italian issues.
    Nevertheless, social openness is something vary in italy. Two governors of italian regions, Puglia and Sicily, are openly gay, and both regions are in the south. Northern regions are governed by right-wing coalitions where anti-gay, anti-abortion and racist positions are more than welcome. In the north, support for Berlusconi and his partners is still relatively high.
    I would suggest Tuscany or Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Marche, Veneto.
    Apart from Florence, Tuscany is not so expensive if living in one of the many middle-sized cities, like Siena, Livorno, Lucca, Pisa. In Emilia, Bologna is quite big, very beautiful, it hosts the oldest university of the world and has a very active gay community. Perugia, in Umbria, hosts a very important University for foreign students. It's now famous for being the city where the student Meredith Kirchner was killed. In Veneto, apart from Venice which is more or less a place where living is impossible, there are number of middle-sized cities, and it's one of the most active and developed regions.
    At the end of the day, it depends on how much money, how long and for what purposes you wanna stay. As I said, I would pick Bologna.

    Italy is the only big EU country that still has no legislation concerning gay rights. The influence of the Vatican on Italian politics is still extremely high, even though polls show that over 70% of italian people are in favour of gay marriage, but against adoption for gay couples. I lived in countries like Sweden, Belgium and the UK, and the level of social acceptance is not even comparable. Your children may have a hard time, as it's easy to get spotted and picked on by other kids for any kind of reasons.

    Good luck for you and your children, and enjoy Italy. It's a beautiful country,
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    Feb 01, 2013 3:30 PM GMT
    First of all, I really appreciate the fact that you want your kids to grow up in a different country and expose them to a different, enriched, cultural place as Italy.

    I think Italianmisarc is right(a part on the gay marriage issue, the percentage is surely a lot less).
    I think you must bear in mind that Italy is still a very bad place for being gay. Because of its old history, traditions and being the capital of Catholicism, it's narrow-minded, old-fashioned and still homophobic.
    If I were you, I'd choose another place in Europe, maybe Netherlands or Germany. But if you're sure you want to come to Italy, avoid the South at all costs. It's a really bad place for living.
    Go to North Italy, there are many small cities which have a lot of cultural places and they are good for living. I would suggest Bologna, Como, Padova, Pavia, Modena, Parma or maybe some place in Tuscany or Piemonte. I don't really know to be honest, but I think it would be better to choose a small city in the north of Italy.
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    Feb 01, 2013 3:35 PM GMT
    Have you considered Malta? Historically it's a part of Sicily. Meets your criteria of being rich in history, kid friendly, safe, and reasonable rental rates. Very nice and mild climate. No taxes on foreign income, very reasonable tax code in general, way better than the Italian one. I've been living here for 2 years now and can definitely recommend it.
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    Feb 01, 2013 3:41 PM GMT
    http://lastampa.it/2013/01/31/italia/cronache/arretrata-su-gay-ed-eutanasia-cosi-gli-italiani-vedono-la-politica-RBkucQjHSyU4vWtx1Qz5VM/pagina.html

    it's in Italian, and it talks about 77% of Italian being favourable to "regulate" civil rights and unions among gay people. I believe it includes both supporters of gay marriage (Spain-style) and those who sponsor the English, French or German model.

    Malta, I would strongly avoid that. They approved divorce just some years ago.
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    Feb 01, 2013 4:48 PM GMT
    I have family living in Vicenza (not far from Venice), and they say it is a very peaceful place to live.
    I visited Roma and Napoli. I really loved those cities but I am not sure I would like to live there with children, as it seem to be harsh cities.
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    Feb 01, 2013 4:57 PM GMT


    hmmmmmmmmmmmm...39.gif just tracking this thread.
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    Feb 01, 2013 5:26 PM GMT
    italianmisarc saidMalta, I would strongly avoid that. They approved divorce just some years ago.


    It's true Malta only legalised divorces in 2011. The island is still very tolerant, open minded and accepting, definitely more so than most of Italy. It's also the safest country in Europe, there is virtually no crime here.
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    Feb 01, 2013 5:30 PM GMT
    radamist0 said
    italianmisarc saidMalta, I would strongly avoid that. They approved divorce just some years ago.


    It's true Malta only legalised divorces in 2011. The island is still very tolerant, open minded and accepting, definitely more so than most of Italy. It's also the safest country in Europe, there is virtually no crime here.


    I bet it's a beautiful place, and i'm gonna visit as soon as I can. But, being born and raised in Sardinia, I guess I just have the island syndrome. I just wanna escape!
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    Feb 01, 2013 11:25 PM GMT
    I'm not from Italy but have traveled and will be there this summer. From research and experience it is not very gay friendly overall compared to Netherlands, France. Scandinavia but it is one of the most beautiful places and high standard of living compared to the US. I tend to like the northern parts of Italy though too. Good luck to you and your family. I wish I was moving somewhere life is better. I think you will find rude people everywhere though.
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    Feb 04, 2013 1:49 PM GMT
    Just don't go to Venice in summer... it's smelly, more than hot and there are thousands of tourists... Very beautiful and different from many other cities, though.

    And as for living... I would choose the toscana region. It's beautiful and has a lot of history.

    I don't know how are the gay rights in Italy but you have the vatican there... and also many conservative parties (I think gay marriage is not accepted yet). Here in Spain for example, gay marriage is completely normal.