[Last update: June 9, 2022] Romulus and Remus, two twin brothers were born around 750 BC and abandoned by their parents, a vestal virgin and the god Mars. Condemned to die at the river banks of the Tiber, the river god Tiberinus saved the baby boys which were fostered by a female wolf, and later adopted by a shepherd. Romulus and Remus, after battling in a war, returned to the hills around today's Rome to build their own city - Rome - but in a dispute about the exact location of the city, Romulus killed Remus and built the city of Rome on the Palatine hill.
The capital of the shoe-shaped country developed into the capital of the Roman Empire, which dissolved to become the capital of Christianity. Until 1861 Italy was split into many small kingdoms and sovereign states which led to a rich culture that differs from region to region.
Today Italy is one of Europe's most visited travel destinations, and nobody will deny that Italian cuisine is by far among the best in the world. And the most copied. Italy is an evergreen for the tourism industry, let's see what the country offers for digital nomads and remote working travelers.
🇮🇹 Entry requirements for Italy
- Visa: Valid Schengen visa.
- Insurance: Travel health insurance that matches the Schengen requirements. Your insurance policy needs a minimum amount of 30,000 Euros of emergency cover.
🌱 Travel health insurance for Italy
- Additional note: Covid-related entry regulations are lifted on May 1st, 2022. Please check your airline, train, or bus company for additional required documents.
🏡 How to find a place
- Good to know: You can find many beautiful vintage apartments in the historic center of Florence and Rome, tiny houses and large properties in Tuscany, campsites, monasteries, and farm stays in Italy. Be aware of the different climates of the country. The summer at Lake Como or in Brixen (Italian Alps) can be different from summer in Rome or Naples, where the pavement seems to melt under the sun, especially in August. On the other hand, accommodation in Naples and Rome during July and August is more affordable as many residents escape to cooler destinations. When traveling to Italy in winter, make sure your accommodation comes with proper heating, otherwise, take a hot water bottle with you - a lifesaver for my own travels and happily used from Peru to Portugal.
- Cost of living: In Rome, you can expect to pay around 700 to 900 Euro per month for a private room in a shared apartment. Renting your own apartment will cost you around 1,200 to 1,600 Euro. In Milano, rents seem to be slightly cheaper than in Rome, but we are talking about 100 Euro less. So you can expect to pay around 1,100 - 1,500 Euro per month in renting your own apartment. Florence seems to be one of the most expensive places, you can expect to pay around 1,500 - 2,000 Euro rent per month for your own apartment.
- Airbnb: You will find a good amount of nice apartments and private rooms on Airbnb. Prices might be higher when booking closer to the arrival date, and May, June, and September are popular among tourists.
- Facebook groups: It might be worth monitoring the local Facebook groups for rental listings as it seems that sometimes people put good deals out there. For Milano, check out Facebook groups Milan Apartments 4 Rent, Milan Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets, Rents, and Affitti a Milano - Apartments, studios, and rooms for rent in Milan. In Florence, check out Love Florence Italy, with more than 40,000 members and daily postings. Rome Apartments 4 Rent & Selling could be a good source for listings in the capital.
✈️ How to get to Italy
- Plane: Italy has many international airports, you can get easily from European cities to the Italian Alps, Milan, Venice, Florence in Tuscany, to Rome, Naples, and Sicily. Check out the many low-cost carriers, such as German Wings, Ryanair, and co. for good deals.
- Train: Check out the Eurail passes to travel to Italy by train. There are great connections from neighboring countries such as Austria, Switzerland, and France, but also Germany has good train connections to Italian cities. Check out our train travel itinerary connecting Italy and Germany by train.
- Ferry: When on the other side of the Adria, in Albania, Croatia or in Greece, you can hop on a ferry and get to the Italian coast, for example to Bari.
🚌 Public transport
- Milan: Milan has good public transport, a metro, a subway (S lines), trams, and buses. The metro which was built in the 1960s consists of 4 lines, a ticket is 2 Euro and valid for 90 minutes and you can take the metro, S-line, bus, and/or tram. You can buy tickets online, and view schedules and directions via the app. Additionally, Milano is the only city in Italy besides Rome where Uber is available.
- Venice: Public transport in Venice is mainly backed by an extensive waterway system. Ferries bring you from one end of the city to the other, to the Markus square, the Rialto bridge, and the Lido, a famous beach opposite the Markus square. Venice has some buses but the historic center is mainly visited by boat or foot. There is no Uber available in Venice.
- Florence: In Florence, you can choose between a bus or tram, there is no Uber available in the city. When taking the bus, make sure to buy the bus ticket before entering the bus and validate the ticket inside the bus. Tram line T2 connects Florence with its airport.
- Rome: In Rome, you have the biggest selection of public transport, ranging from metro to tram, buses, and urban trains. There is a big selection of tickets, from single tickets to monthly plans.
🏘 Where to stay
- Milan: Porta Romana, Isola, Porta Venezia. Monitor the Facebook groups Milan Apartments 4 Rent, Milan Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets, Rents, and Affitti a Milano - Apartments, studios, and rooms for rent in Milan.
- Venice: Venice, built on water and one of the world's top tourist destinations is tricky to say which neighborhood would be best. You can get a more local vibe in neighborhoods like Cannaregio, Santa Croce, Castello, and Dorsoduro. Dorsoduro is a popular nightlife district, so have this in mind when booking your place.
- Florence: Check out San Lorenzo near the train station, Le Cure, Campo di Marte, and Santo Spirito neighborhoods. Monitor Love Florence Italy for listings.
- Rome: Choose between Tridente for historic sights, Parione for nightlife, Trastevere for bars and rustic chic, or the modern Prati district. Visit the Facebook group Rome Apartments 4 Rent & Selling for private listings.
- Naples: The calm and bougie Vomero, the authentic Spanish Quarter, or the chic business district of Chiaia are worth checking out when traveling to Naples.
- Sicily: The first step, join the local Facebook group, and check out available housing, meetups, and events in town. For accommodation, choose between Centro Storico (Old Town), Politeama/Libertà (Downtown), and Mondello (Seaside).
🧑🏻💻 Where to work from
- Milan: Flexworking Coworking Community, the monthly membership is 180 Euro plus VAT. You can also find a couple of COWO coworking spaces in Milan, for example, Studio 4 Boutique near Porta Venezia.
- Florence: Multiverso offers memberships between 90 and 200 Euro monthly. Similar prices are at Impact Hub Florence.
- Rome: Famo Cose Makerspace for 150 Euro per month or B Side coworking for 190 Euro per month. The average month membership in many spaces in Rome is more than 200 Euro.
- Naples: Regus Naples has 3 locations in Naples, memberships start at 300 Euro per month. Dialogue Place is a contemporary coworking space offering monthly memberships at 150 Euro. Or check out Co.working Napoli for 120 Euro per month.
- Sicily: neu [nòi] in Palermo is available for 140 Euro per month, Beet Community is priced as a premium space, starting at 350 Euro per month.
- Milan: Coffice, and Milano Roastery in Porta Romana, Anche Bar in Isola, or Base, a pop-up coworking café near Milano Porta Genova.
- Florence: Ditta Artigianale, and La Menagere.
- Rome: Bar Del Fico, Ex Circus, and Barnum.
- Naples: Le Gran Caffè Gambrinus is decorated in Art Nouveau style, this café has a long history of being a meeting point for authors and actors of the Belle Epoque. Scaturchio is a family-run pasticceria in the center of Naples serving freshly baked sfogliatella, babà (rum cake), pastiera (Neapolitan tart), and ministeriale, a liquor-filled chocolate medallion. 'O Grin is your place for vegan food which serves delicious food just not in August when the café closes for holidays.
- Sicily: Bar Sicilia 2 is a great spot for authentic Italian breakfast and a cute place to work for a few hours. Casa Stagnitta - for serious coffee lovers.
🚊 How to travel around Italy
- Train: The best way to travel across Italy is by using the train as they are efficient, convenient, and comfortable. They can speed up to 300 km per hour (185 miles per hour), and offer a board bistro and wifi. Train stations are usually located in the center of cities, towns, and villages and are connected with taxis, and or bus networks. Trenitalia and Italo are two train companies in Italy and you can easily check prices, schedules, special discounts and passes via Omio. Popular train lines connect, for example:
1) Venice – Padua – Bologna – Florence – Rome – Naples – Salerno
2) Turin – Milan – Bologna – Florence – Rome – Naples – Salerno
3) Milan – Brescia – Verona – Vincenza – Padua – Venice
- Car: Renting a car in Italy is fun, as long as you are not driving in Rome and trying to find parking lots on a daily base, which is really challenging. The best regions to drive a car are Tuscany, Tirol, Dolomites, and the Riviera. When renting a car, be aware of tolls, restricted driving in historic city centers, congestion, and lack of parking lots. Also, many rental cars will be manual, and Italians are known to drive fast and furious.
- Bus: Italy provides a good and affordable bus network that connects villages, towns, and all major cities. The intercity busses are comfortable, come with wifi, and are fairly clean. Check out Flixbus, one of Europe's biggest bus companies.
- Boat: Take the ferry to Sicily or Sardinia, rent a private yacht if money is no limitation, or hop on a boat across the Adria and travel to Albania or Croatia.
- Taxi: You find taxis in every town in Italy, and you see the official license plate on the side of the car. Tipping is done by simply rounding up, but you don't need to tip like you are in the city center of Chicago.
- Uber: You can find Uber in Rome and Milan, in other cities such as Verona, Florence, or Naples Uber is prohibited. Additionally, you can only find Uber Black in Italy, meaning the cars are nicer and the fees are higher.
🎖Must see in Italy
- Rome: It should be a no-brainer, but when in Italy, make sure to travel to Rome and visit the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Cathedral. Get a skip-the-line ticket for the sights, especially since the queue in front of the Colosseum might be long. Have a pizza on one of the beautiful old piazzas, sip an Aperol spritz or a Chianti, and walk through all the small cobbled alleys.
- Tuscany: Romeo & Julia, The English Patient, Life is Beautiful or Tea with Mussolini - many famous movies and shows had their film sets in Tuscany. And indeed, this beautiful region is a gem, not to be missed. The best is to drive a car to visit one of the many wine yards, castles, villas, and restaurants, hike up some hills, and stay in one of the elegant boutique hotels. Florence is a must-visit.
- Venice: It's a special feeling when walking through the historic sites, narrow alleys, and the beautiful parks in Venice. Make sure to take the local ferries, explore the northern part of the city, which still remains a bit more local, and stroll around the Markus square but avoid eating there as you will pay 4x the price for a pizza than finding a restaurant further away. When traveling to Venice, have a look at the cruise ship schedule and avoid visiting the historic center during those hours.
- Quinque Terre: In the northwest of Italy, on the coast of the Ligurian Sea, five villages, named Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are reason enough to attract thousands of tourists each year. The nearby Quinque Terre National Park is great hiking out outdoor sports destination. Quinque Terre is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.
- Amalfi coast: This celebrated coastline in the south of Italy is overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Salerno. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, the Amalfi coast has been a famous travel destination for the European upper class for centuries, and also today, the region attracts international jet setters sipping champaign and residing in chic boutique hotels.
💡Good to know
- Internet: The average internet speed is 54 Mbps download and 19 Mbps upload.
- Sim cards: There is 5G in Italy, although limited to the big cities and you get the best coverage with Wind Tre.
- Digital nomad community: Italy has so many beautiful little nooks, charming towns, buzzing cities, and remote villages, that it is not really straightforward where to find digital nomads and work from home folks. The most popular tourist attractions, such as Florence, Venice, and Milano come with high price tags, and the cost of living can go up to 2,500 - 3,000 Euro per month if you rent a nice place in the city center and want to eat out some times per week. Therefore, let's check the smaller towns. But first action step: Join the Facebook group Digital Nomads Italy.
- Palermo: The first step, join the local Facebook group, and check out available housing, meetups, and events in town. For accommodation, choose between Centro Storico (Old Town), Politeama/Libertà (Downtown), and Mondello (Seaside). Besides the main sites, check out the Strangler Tree, one of Europe's largest trees and located at Marina Square. You can expect your monthly cost between 1,500 Euro and 2,000 Euro for a solo traveling nomad.
- Rome: As further north, you travel (as we come from Palermo in Sicily), the more you might spend on rent, groceries, restaurants, and transport. For Rome, you should calculate a monthly budget of 2,000 Euro minimum for a solo traveling nomad including rent, coworking, and living expenses. Be aware of the season when choosing Rome, as the city can get brutally hot in July and August.
- Florence: One of my favorite places in Europe is Firenze (Florence) in Tuscany. A beautifully restored city center, showing off architecture from various epochs, like Roccoco or Renaissance, cobblestone alleys included. Although Florence is known as a student-friendly city, visiting Florence as a digital nomad or tourist comes with high expenses. You can expect to top up your monthly budget to 2,500 - 3,000 Euro.
- Cost of living: When traveling on a small to medium budget, check out Padova, Genoa, Bari, and Treviso. In general, the cost of living is highest in the north of Italy and reduces as further south you go.
- Climate: Italy's climate is Mediterranean with hot and dry summers and rainy winters. With a length of 1,200 km, Italy shows some microclimates and you can expect much colder winter months in the Italian Alps (north of Florence) than in Naples or Sicily. Summers in Rome and Tuscany (the center) can be extremely hot. The south of Italy (south of Rome) including Sicily can be brutally hot, which is hotter than extremely hot. Winters in the south of Italy are mostly overcast, rainy, and very windy.
- History: Although Rome is more than 2,000 years old, the state of Italy exists only since 1861. Before that, the country was divided into a collection of smaller sovereign states. From 1925 until 1945, Italy was ruled by dictator Benito Mussolini. King Umberto ruled the country for 36 days in May 1946 and is known as the May King. He was exiled to Portugal and since June 1946 Italy is ruled as a Republic.
- UNESCO: You can find 58 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Italy.
- Culture: Cesar's ancient Rome, the Medicis' wealthy Florence, pilgrims' long waits in vibrant Venice - all of Italy's epochs have influenced the country's culture, especially in food, family, architecture, music, arts, and religion. It is impossible, to sum up, Italy's cultural highlights in just one paragraph. Every corner of the country has its unique heritage and cultural treasures. Visit the local museums, the international exhibitions, and the sites, and taste the local cuisine.
- Trevi Fountain: Did you know that when you sling a coin into the Trevi Fountain, you will return to Rome and find love? This is the story of the fountain which - pre-covid - collected an annual amount of 1.5 million Euro in coins. The money is collected each year and given to the Caritas Roma.
- Romeo & Juliet: When visiting Verona, you can walk to Juliet's balcony in the city. Shakespear placed 13 of his 38 plays in Italy, from Ceasar in Rome to Romeo & Juliet in Verona, and Othello in Venice - Italy was a place full of inspiration for the play writer.
- Volcanoes: Etna, Stromboli, and Vesuvio are the three active volcanos of Italy. You can visit the ruins of Pompeii and witness the destruction of the Vesuvio's eruption in 76AD. The volcano is dormant since 1944.
🚧 What to avoid
- Pickpocketing: Once Rome was famous for being Europe's capital for pickpocketing. But the recent decade shows a decline in pickpocketing. However, it is still very common, especially in Rome, Florence, and other touristy places, so always keep an eye on your belongings and don't keep your backpack with all your valuables on the chair in a café, when you use the bathroom. To show that this table is occupied, use a bottle of water, a cheap pair of sunglasses, or similar items.
- Air quality: The air quality in Italy is not the best, in fact, it is moderate. The worst regions in Italy are Campania, Piedmont, and Lombardy.
- Overtipping: Remember, you are not in Manhattan, rounding up is enough and custom.
- Drinking cappuccino after 11 am: Italians don't drink cappuccino after 11 am, as it is just a morning pleasure. Espresso bars are often crowded and people drink their espresso standing and chatting to their colleagues and friends.
- Cutting spaghetti with a knife: I always feel sorry for the Italian cuisine which is one of the most popular worldwide but oftentimes done so wrong. Dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo or Pizza Hawaii do not exist in Italy, and Italians might get increased heart rate when they watch foreigners cutting spaghetti into little pieces. Talking about spaghetti, if you want to eat it like Italians, skip the spoon and knife and simply use the fork.
- Dressing inappropriately: Visiting churches and other religious sites in Italy should be by wearing appropriate clothes. No flip-flops, shorts, tops, or top-less men, please.
🚴🏻♀️ How to stay healthy
From skiing in the Italian alps, kite surfing at the Adria, or hiking in Tuscany - Italy offers a big variety of places for outdoor activities.
- Winter sports: Trentino-South Tirol province, offers activities such as skiing, sledding, long-distance skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
- Kite surfing: This fun sport can be done from the Lake Garda to Sardinia, Calabria, and Sicily.
- Hiking: You can find hiking trails in the Italian Dolomites, in Cinque Terre, in Sicily, in Merano, or at Lake Garde or Lake Como.
- Coliving: Near Bolzano in the Italian Alps, you find a beautiful coliving space named Franz & Mathilde. From Bolzano you take the Regiobus 17109 Merano to Vilpiano Nalles. You arrive at the train station of Vilpian and take bus 216 from Lana to Tisens, Longnui. From the bus stop, it is just a 140 m walk to the coliving space. The journey takes between 1:15 and 1:45 hours. Franz & Mathilde comes with a lovely coworking space, which offers fast and reliable internet, stunning mountain views, and a community-focused space with lots of activities on the side.
- Water quality: Many local people do not trust tap water, and therefore, you should drink bottled and/or filtered water instead.
- Air quality: The air quality in Italy is generally moderate.
⚓️ Long stay
- Digital nomad visa: Italy's government is planning on launching a digital nomad visa but it is not available yet. Once it is available, we will update our article accordingly.