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Quality of Life in Italy: Bolzano back in the lead, Reggio Calabria bottom of the league

by  Rossella Cadeo

The South Tyrol model remains the benchmark and statistics are there to prove it. Bolzano once more ranks as number one city to live in according to the Sole 24 Ore/Italy 24 survey on Quality of Life in the Italian provinces, closely followed by its partner city of Trento, which takes third place.

What’s surprising this year, though, is city number two: Milan. On the obvious end of the spectrum is the bottom part of the list: an assortment of southern cities, with Reggio Calabria the lowest rated, statistically close to the province on the Strait’s opposite shore, Messina (which is 104th).

The survey once more tackles six categories (Standard of Living, Business and Occupation, Services, Population, Law & Order, Leisure) and 36 indicators with relative longlists, shortlists and finalists.

As for results, Bolzano hits number one for the fifth time in the report’s twenty-six years (after 2012, 2010, 2001 and 1995), boasting several other positioning in the top ten. The survey highlights numerous strengths: in the first two categories (more economy-focused), the city merits a solid fourth place thanks, in particular, to the indicators for occupation (71% versus a 56% average), the scarcity of non-performing loans (5.7%, i.e. less than a third of the average) and consumption (€2,660 per household, i.e. €700 above the national average).

On the opposite extreme, Reggio Calabria has the worst positioning in the first three categories, Standard of Living (108th), Business and Occupation (106th) and Services (108th): the percentage of jobs at risk is high (36%), household wealth is low (€193,000 against an average €345,000), as are percentage of exports on GDP (less than 2%) and availability of creches and childcare centers (less than 2% of households with small children are covered); Legambiente, the Italian environmentalist association, gave it very bad marks in environmental health. Just as unsatisfactory are the city’s grades in Leisure (99th place) and Population (87th), while the Calabrian capital fares better on the front of reported crimes (52nd place).

Apart from results for the best and worst city, the survey’s overall report card gives some interesting insights into the state of the nation, starting with Milan’s second place (the city has shown constant growth but leaped six places ahead by comparison with the previous survey), mainly thanks to welfare indicators (pensions, GDP), services and leisure opportunities, while security does not fare quite so well (though all larger cities and most economically or touristically appealing ones share this trend).

Milan’s eternal rival, Rome, on the other hand, has stepped down to 16th place this year.

The top ten cities are located in northern and central Italy (with the exception of Sardinia’s Olbia-Tempio) and are small or average in size (save for Milan, of course, and, in part, Florence), often in the area of the Alps (e.g. Bolzano, Trento, Sondrio, Cuneo, Aosta). The most represented region after Lombardy is Tuscany, with Siena looking stable (ninth place like in 2014) and the Tuscan capital showing considerable improvement, up to number four from last year.

The lowest-ranking provinces, on the other hand, are in the south of Italy, confirming the usual snapshot of a divided nation – north & center on the one hand, south on the other. At the very bottom of the list are two towns in Calabria (Reggio Calabria and Vibo Valentia), preceded by three from Puglia (Taranto, Lecce and Foggia), three from Sicily (Palermo, Messina, Caltanissetta) and two from Campania (Caserta and Naples). The neediest provinces in other territories are Frosinone in central Italy (84th) and Asti in the north.