The Monocle Forecast
5 – gennaio 2017
Elisa Burnazzi, Davide Feltrin
La bella vita
Ivan Carvalho reporting from Trento: With its thriving businesses and close-knit community, it’s little wonder this scenic Italian town has a winning quality of life.
Life in Italy is an attractive proposition with its unbeatable food and drink, natural beauty and cultural treasures. Yet finding the right spot to settle down is a challenge. Big cities have drawbacks (see Rome’s failing infrastructure or Milan’s smog) and quaint Tuscan villages lack an edge. Our choice for 2017 is Trento, a vibrant city two hours by car from Milan that’s set in the foothills of the Alps.
Locals have data to back up their choice. Italy’s financial dailies regularly place Trento (population 117,000) in the top three of their annual quality-of-life rankings of places to live in the bel paese.
Trento’s good fortune is tied in part to its government: it enjoys fiscal autonomy in health, transport and education. It’s a haven for start-ups that attract overseas talent and its university runs a research centre with Microsoft; unemployment is below the national rate.
Litter is a rare sight in its pristine downtown and there’s a commitment to cycling with 430km of paths that extend into idyllic valleys dotted with lakes and slopes ideal for hiking. Come winter the nearest ski slopes are just 15 minutes away on Monte Bondone.
Despite a well-oiled economy, many shops down shutters for three hours at lunch to give residents a chance to head home for a proper meal. “Life runs at a leisurely pace; it’s more civilised and there’s not the chaos of big cities,” says Luigi Andreis, owner of clothing boutique Raccolta Differenziata, which sits in a 15th-century palazzo in the city’s former Jewish quarter.
For Elisa Burnazzi, who runs architecture practice Burnazzi Feltrin, the city’s strengths lie in its urban fabric and the presence of long-established family-run businesses. Her favourites include Demattè, a fruit-and-vegetable vendor on the corner of the city’s main piazza, and grocer Mein, which sells cheese and meat from the province.