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Where do all the native English speakers live in Italy?

Have you ever wondered how many English speakers live in Italy? Here's a look at how many there are and where they live - and which areas they tend to avoid.

Houses in Venice, Italy
Italy’s home to over five million foreigners, including some 50,600 residents from Anglophone countries. Photo by Katy Cao on Unsplash

Good weather, stunning landscapes, amazing food and relaxed ways of life all make Italy an extremely popular destination among foreign nationals.

According to the latest data from Italian statistics office Istat, Italy is currently home to just over five million foreigners, who make up around 8.5 percent of the country’s total population. 

This data only refers to people who have officially registered their residence with local authorities, and doesn’t include foreign nationals who only spend part of the year in Italy or dual citizens.

But exactly how many of these residents come from English-speaking countries and where do they all live? Here’s what emerges from the data.

Brits dominate the Anglophone population

Italy’s 50,600 residents from Anglophone countries only account for one percent of the foreign population.

READ ALSO: How to apply for an Italian elective residency visa from the UK

For context, the Romanian community, which is the largest in the country, is made up of well over a million residents and accounts for roughly 20 percent.

Out of all the native English-speaking residents, Brits are by far the most-represented group as around 28,400 UK nationals – that’s nearly three in five Italy-based Anglophones – are known to live in the country.

The top three is completed by the US with 14,500 residents and Ireland with 3,300. 

Then there’s Canada (2,000), Australia (1,400), South Africa (700) and New Zealand (300).

Lombardy is the most popular region

Lombardy, which boasts the largest job market in the country and includes Italy’s financial powerhouse, Milan, is home to some 9,000 native English-speaking residents, making it the most popular region for Anglophones.

READ ALSO: What are the best Milan neighbourhoods for international residents?

Unsurprisingly, the UK is once again the most-represented country as around 5,000 British nationals – that’s nearly 18 percent of all Brits in Italy – live in the northern region.

Milan's famous Duomo cathedral

Lombardy, the northern region including Italy’s financial capital, Milan, is home to some 9,000 native English-speaking residents. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

But Lombardy also has a sizeable US community as 2,400 Americans live in the area.  

Lazio, which includes Italy’s capital, Rome, is ‘only’ the second-most popular region for Anglophones to move to. 

While it has a lower number of English-speaking residents in total, Lazio is the first choice for Americans (2,800 residents), Irish people (700), Canadians (400) and New Zealanders (56).

Tuscany the third-most popular destination for all English-speaking communities, from Brits to New Zealanders. 

Other regions with notable numbers of English speakers are: Emilia-Romagna, which includes the lively and youthful Bologna; Veneto, home to Italy’s floating city, Venice; and Piedmont, including its industrial hub, Turin.

The Eternal City’s appeal

Rome might not have the slick economy of the northern metropolises, but its tourism industry, government institutions and cultural cachet are enough to make it the single top city for native English speakers. 

Around 6,900 Anglophones live in the Eternal City, with Brits (3,200 residents) and Americans (2,400) being the largest communities. 

Rome's Colosseum

Around 6,900 Anglophones live in Rome, with Brits and Americans being the largest communities.
Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Interestingly, Rome acts as a magnetic pole for the entire region as over 80 percent of UK and US nationals living in Lazio are concentrated in the city. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: What are the rules on moving household goods to Italy?

After Rome, Milan and Florence are Anglophones’ favourite city destinations.

Milan is home to 4,500 native English speakers, with over half of them being originally from the UK, whereas Florence has 2,400 English-speaking residents.

Anglophones tend to avoid southern regions…and the Aosta Valley

All of Italy’s southern regions count comparatively lower numbers of native English-speaking residents, with the lack of job opportunities in the area likely being the main determining factor.

Basilicata and Molise are the second- and third-least popular regions, with just 180 and 191 English-speaking residents respectively.

That said, the region where you’re least likely to hear English spoken is not located in the south of the country.

In fact, the Aosta Valley, a small autonomous region in the north-west of the peninsula, is home to as few as 151 Anglophones – though this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as this is the least populous region in Italy.

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For members


Why isn’t Ascension Day a public holiday in Italy?

Italy is known for being a particularly religious country, so why isn't Ascension Day a public holiday here?

Why isn't Ascension Day a public holiday in Italy?

Thursday 18th May 2023 is Ascension Day, the day many Christians believe commemorates the ascension of Christ to heaven, following 40 days of preaching after his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

This means that it doesn’t always fall on May 18th, but changes each year depending on when Easter is

READ ALSO: How to make the most of Italy’s public holidays in 2023

According to Christian tradition, Ascension Day celebrates the day Jesus ascended into heaven at Bethany or the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. The date is marked across all branches of Christianity on the sixth Thursday after Easter.

That doesn’t mean it is a public holiday everywhere, however.

It’s a holiday in countries including France, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and the Benelux countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Certain parts of Switzerland also have a day off.

But in Italy, a country known for being overwhelmingly Catholic, the date is not a public holiday and not really marked outside Mass.

Why is this?

Generally speaking, traditionally Catholic countries such as Italy don’t place such an emphasis on Ascension Day.

Instead, many Roman Catholic countries, such as Poland, Spain, and Hungary, as well as Italy, tend to mark the ascension on the Sunday before Pentecost and view the Assumption of Mary on August 15th (l’Assunzione di Maria in Italian, though the date is also known as Ferragosto) as the more important celebration.

l’Assunzione on August 15th is marked by processions and religious events in towns up and down Italy, while the week around Ferragosto sees more or less the entire country close down for summer holidays during what is usually the hottest part of the year.