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Aosta takes the top spot in the 2016 edition of the Quality of Life index

by Rossella Cadeo

Aosta in northern Italy has risen to the top spot of the 2016 edition of the Quality of Life index by Sole 24 Ore-ItalyEurope24, which compares different Italian provinces based on a series of indicators (updated in the large part with 2015 data and in some cases with figures up to October 2016). The rankings are organized in six sectors of study. Vibo Valentia in Calabria, southern Italy, came last in the ratings.

Several new features have been added this year to make the life quality assessment more complete. Greater attention has been paid to the current needs and problems of the community, including house prices, jobs for young people, ability to innovate, integration of foreigners, welfare services and civil participation.

The six areas have gained a clearer classification and the standards of judgment have risen to 42 from 36. Despite this “restructuring” which slightly skews the comparison with the last edition – not much changes in terms of the big picture. The divide remains between the North and the South of the country, the bigger provinces are held back by security problems and the environment, while the medium and small-sized provinces stand out as models of life quality.

In this way, Aosta (an autonomous region of the Val d’Aosta), comes out as the best for the third time in 27 years of study (it previously topped the list in 1993 and 2008). It was boosted especially by its performance in the sections on the economy, on demography and on public order. Vibo Valentia in Calabria meanwhile came in last place for the third time (it trailed the rankings in 1997 and 2005 as well).

A few examples help highlight the distance, not purely geographic, between the two Italian provinces: the value of residential real estate assets surpasses €100,000 per head in Aosta, triple compared to that of Vibo; the youth unemployment rate in Aosta is 32%, while Vibo’s is almost double that; about 9% of foreign residents in Aosta gained citizenship in 2015, while less than 1% did so in Vibo; in Aosta seven armed robberies were recorded per 100,000 inhabitants, while in Vibo there were 44.

However, the alpine province of Aosta, where it is the regional authority that guarantees the large part of job places, does not perform so well on the front of Business, Work, and Innovation (it is in 70th place), performing particularly poorly in the use of savings and in patents. Meanwhile the Calabrian province has a reasonable place in the rankings for accessible rents, the scarce amount of protests, the low index of separations and rare reports of pick-pocketing and purse snatching.

Also confirming themselves on the podium of top spots were Milan, in second place, and Trento (an autonomous province of Trentino Alto Adige) while the other frequent protagonist of the research, Bolzano (the other autonomous province of Trentino) achieved an honorable seventh place. Many provinces of the southern regions of Calabria, Campania and Puglia were found at the bottom.

To move away from the group of the South it is necessary to head back up to between position 70 and 80 (where you find the Lazio areas of Frosinone, Latina, Rieti and Viterbo, Lombardy’s Pavia and Lodi, and Piedmont’s Asti); the best southern provinces include Oristano (55th place), which was strong in the demography and security sectors, and other provinces of Sardinia such as Cagliari and Olbia Tempio.

As in the last edition, the group of the biggest provinces is led by Milan, which again this year comes close to the top thanks to its excellent performance in the sectors of economy, employment, services and free time. It is held back by figures on crime, even if they are falling.

In terms of provinces of more than one million inhabitants, Florence and Bologna also do well (they are both in the top ten) along with Rome (13th place, boosted by real estate assets and the flow of tourists linked to Pope Francis’ Jubilee year) and Turin (35th place). All the major Italian cities of the South took low spots for quality of life, including Bari (85th), Catania (94th), Palermo (99th) and Naples (107th).