If you’re moving to Italy and looking for a good quality of Italian life while you’re at it, you’d best consider the northern regions of the Belpaese. In a time when Italy is struggling through a significant financial crisis, and is experiencing continuing low wages, the autonomous regions of Alto Adige and Trentino have unsurprisingly turned up as providing the best quality of life in Italy.
The 2010 quality of life results come from research done by Italy’s national financial paper, the Sole 24 Ore, which lists the best places to live by province. Bolzano and Trento top the list, followed by another mountain province in the north of Lombardy, Sondrio, which rounds out the podium ahead of Trieste, which was the winner last year.
The evaluation and classification of Italy’s 107 provinces are based on the following criteria: standard of living, business and employment, health and environmental services, population, public order and free time. From Bolzano to Trento, Sondrio and Trieste, the top ten places to live in Italy are as follows: Siena, Aosta, Gorizia, Bologna, Oristano and Belluno.
The big cities find themselves further down the list with Milan taking the 21st spot, Rome at 35th and Naples is last. The northern and central Italy have the best classification with southern provinces unsurprisingly struggling at the bottom. See the quality of life list here.
Photo | Flickr
In a wonderful combination of sport and food, you can cycle northern Italy in the “”Biciclettata delle Torri” cycling tour which passes through the picturesque streets of Ceresara, past some of Lombardy’s loveliest rural courts and noble country homes, and also enjoy a kind of culinary tour of the area, too.
The tour takes place on May 16th from the Piazza Castello at Ceresara, making its way through more than 20 km of Lombardy countryside, with various restaurant stops along the way. A wonderful lunch of typical Italian products from Mantua finishes the day.
The event is organised by the “Compagnia delle Torri” cultural association, which also organises a great medieval event in Ceresara every year. The event celebrates the history of two feuding noble families, and the peaceful agreement between two historic figures, including the Duke of Mantua. For more details on the cycling event, get in touch with the Compagnia delle Torri.
Snow in Italy is finally here, marking the definitive arrival of winter and the ski season, especially for this long weekend. So if you find yourself on the slopes of Italy’s ski resorts, or shopping in the Christmas markets of Bolzano in Alto Adige, you’ll be looking for something to warm you up after a day out in the cold.
Here, we give you a list of the best Italian drinks for a moment spent by the fireside warming your feet. Our only recommendation is you go easy on the drinks because they’re normally very potent. Otherwise, check out our post on how not to get drunk on Italian cocktails in case you need some tips.
First on the list is one of my absolute favourites and that’s a bombardino. This is Italy’s version of eggnog, made with brandy and advocaat (Vov in Italy). If you like it sweeter, you’d best ask for only a small part of brandy or you’re in for a shock. The brandy and advocaat is mixed together, and then heated to boiling point via a steamer, and to top it off, you can add whipped cream which I recommend to sweeten the drink a little and remove the possibility of burning your mouth on your first sip.
Northern Italy has its culinary delights just like the south, and in the cool climate of Trentino one such delight is Asiago cheese. This Italian cheese has been a DOP protected product since 1978 and its area of production takes in the provinces of Vicenza and Trento, as well as parts of Padua and Treviso.
Asiago is a hard-crust cheese that can be aged differently according to the discipline. Two types can generally be found: young and fresh, with a soft, delicate flavour, or aged asiago for at least four months (up to two years) which has a stronger flavour bordering on spicy.
Depending on which type you have, the food and wine match will have to complement the flavour strength and texture. The decisive flavour of the aged cheese will require a stronger red wine, perhaps a merlot from Trentino if you want a local Italian wine, or if you want to go further afield, a Piave Cabernet. For the fresher and more delicate version, we recommend a white wine or rose, such as the Biferno Rosato.
Photo | Flickr
The best Italian olive oil does not just come from central and southern Italy. While you may be used to seeing the olive groves across the hills of Tuscany and Umbria, there is a pocket in northern Italy that makes excellent olive oil, too. We’ve already see the limoncello from Lake Garda, and today we take a look at another Italian food festival, with the lake’s olive oil production.
The Lake Garda olive oil festival is taking place, called “L’olio, il lago e la tradizione”, which celebrates the olive oil making tradition and industry of the lake. The festival features the oil of Castelletto di Brenzone and involves tours of the olive groves and olive pressing facilities, concluding on November 25th with olive oil tastings and an olive race for children. For more information, see the olive oil event brochure.