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The best 7% towns to retire in Puglia Italy

Retiring in Puglia, Italy under the 7% tax program has gained significant popularity in recent years. With its stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage, countless retirees are flocking to this region in the southern part of Italy. The 7% tax program allows individuals to pay a greatly reduced tax rate on their income for 10 years, making it an enticing option for those seeking a relaxed and affordable retirement. However, with so many towns to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide where to settle down. This article aims to highlight the best towns in Puglia for retirement, considering factors such as the quality of life, healthcare facilities, cost of living, and variety of amenities. From the charming coastal town of Polignano a Mare to the historic city of Lecce, Puglia offers retirees a wide range of options to choose from, each with its unique charm and appeal. Whether you prefer a bustling city or quiet countryside, Puglia has something to offer for everyone looking to spend their retirement years in the heart of Italy. 

What’s the 7% tax program in Italy

The 7% tax program in Italy is a special tax regime offered by the Italian tax authorities, known as Agenzia delle Entrate in 2019, to encourage the relocation of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) to Italy. Under this program, individuals who meet specific criteria can opt to be taxed at a fixed rate of 7% on their foreign-sourced income for a period of 15 years. To qualify for the program, the individual must be a new tax resident in Italy and have not been a resident in the country for at least nine out of the past ten years. They must also commit to residing in Italy for at least two years. This tax regime aims to attract wealthy individuals by providing them with a more favorable tax environment compared to other jurisdictions. It is particularly attractive for individuals who generate significant income from foreign sources, as they can benefit from tax savings. Additionally, the program offers a sense of stability and certainty regarding tax liabilities for a fixed period.

What are the benefits of the 7% tax program?

The 7% tax program offers numerous benefits for individuals with foreign income. Firstly, the program applies a flat 7% tax rate beyond pension income, providing a significant reduction compared to the regular IRPEF rates, which can range from 23% to 43%. This means that individuals can enjoy a lower tax burden on their rental income, dividends, and other foreign earnings. Additionally, those under the 7% tax program are exempt from Regional or Municipal taxes, further reducing their tax obligations. Furthermore, participants in this program are not required to disclose their overseas real estate or assets, and they are also exempt from foreign asset tax monitoring. This provides individuals with privacy and flexibility in managing their foreign assets. Moreover, the 7% tax program spares individuals from foreign estate taxes, such as IVIE and IVAFE. One of the most attractive features of the program is that the flat tax rate applies for nine tax years, providing individuals with stability and predictability in their tax planning. Overall, the 7% tax program offers a range of advantages for those with foreign income, including reduced tax rates, exemptions, and simplicity in tax reporting and planning.

What are the requirements for the 7% tax program?

The 7% tax program in Italy has certain requirements that need to be met in order to benefit from this tax cut. Firstly, individuals who have already lived in Italy are not eligible for this program. However, those who have a foreign pension, even if it is a non-traditional pension such as a Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEPP), can qualify for the program as long they reside in a country that has a tax treaty with Italy. Additionally, individuals who have a foreign pension and work, or individuals from a tax agreement country, also meet the requirements for the 7% tax program. Furthermore, in order to avail of the incentives of this program, individuals need to move to a designated Italian village. Italians residing abroad are required to have spent at least 5 years on the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad (AIRE) to be eligible, although exceptions may apply in certain cases.

The 7% tax scheme in Italy represents a genuine effort to provide a tax incentive aimed at encouraging more retirees to reside in specific regions of the country. Alongside the primary eligibility conditions, there exist several additional requirements:

To qualify, your application must be submitted no later than the year subsequent to your establishment as an Italian tax resident. Fulfilling tax obligations punctually and entirely is imperative, as Italy’s tax deadlines must be met. It’s crucial to note that no deductions are permissible under the 7% flat tax structure. This means that personal deductions, renovation tax credits, or overseas tax credits applicable to the same income cannot be applied. However, if you generate foreign income across multiple countries, it’s possible to confine the 7% flat tax solely to the earnings obtained from select nations. Income derived from other countries would then adhere to standard tax regulations.

Maintaining registration within a qualifying municipality is mandatory to continue enjoying the incentive. While relocating to another town eligible for the 7% tax rate retains the benefit, transferring to a town that falls outside the program’s criteria results in the loss of the 7% tax program entitlement. It’s worth noting that participants hold the freedom to voluntarily withdraw from this incentive at any point without incurring penalties.

Where can I move to in Italy for  7% tax?

 If you’re looking to relocate to Italy and benefit from the 7% tax rate, there are several options available to you under the 2022 law. You can choose to reside in the Mezzogiorno region, which covers the southern part of Italy in one of the towns affected by the 2009, 2016, or 2017 earthquakes such as  Lazio, Marche, and Umbria. Here are the regions included in Mezzogiorno:

  • Abruzzo
  • Basilicata
  • Calabria
  • Campania
  • Molise
  • Puglia
  • Sardinia
  • Sicily

To qualify, the town you choose must have a maximum population of 20,000 residents in the specified regions. However, even if the town grows beyond this threshold after your registration, you will still be able to enjoy the 7% tax rate. The population data necessary for determining eligibility is provided by the ISTAT, and it is based on the population count on January 1st of the year preceding the first tax year. So, for example, if you plan to move in November 2022, the population count from January 1st, 2022, will be used to determine your eligibility.

Why retire in Puglia?

There are several reasons why Puglia is the ideal choice for retirement. Firstly, the region boasts a wonderful climate, with mild winters and warm summers reminiscent of Southern California. This means retirees can look forward to enjoying pleasant weather all year round. Additionally, Puglia is blessed with stunning natural beauty. From its picturesque coastline dotted with sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters to its rolling countryside filled with olive groves and vineyards, there is no shortage of breathtaking landscapes to explore and enjoy. Another appealing factor of retiring in Puglia is the affordable cost of living. Compared to other regions in Italy, Puglia offers more affordable housing options and a lower cost of daily expenses. This makes retirement financially viable and allows retirees to stretch their savings further. Lastly, Puglia boasts a rich history and cultural heritage, with charming towns and cities that are filled with historic buildings, ornate churches, and traditional architecture. The region’s cultural heritage is also reflected in its delicious cuisine and vibrant festivals, ensuring a vibrant and fulfilling retirement experience. 

Criteria for selecting the best towns in Puglia

When selecting the best towns in Puglia for retirement, several criteria are taken into consideration. These include factors such as safety, healthcare facilities, infrastructure, amenities, and community atmosphere. It is important to choose a town that ensures a high level of safety and security for its residents. Access to quality healthcare facilities and services is also a key consideration, as retirees may require regular medical attention. Infrastructure, including transportation, utilities, and public services, must be efficient and well-maintained. Amenities such as shops, restaurants, parks, and recreational facilities are also important for a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Additionally, a strong sense of community and a welcoming atmosphere are desirable qualities. It is crucial to select a town that is a real functioning community and not overly touristy or saturated with expats, as this may result in a lack of activities and services during the winter months.

The best Puglia towns to retire in

Ceglie Messapica: A Hidden Gem with Timeless Allure
Population: 20,000

Tucked away in the heart of Puglia, Ceglie Messapica unveils a world of enchantment with its blend of history, culture, and authenticity. The town’s distinctive charm lies in its well-preserved medieval architecture, winding streets, and vibrant local traditions. What sets Ceglie Messapica apart is its ability to transport you through time, where ancient stone walls hold tales of generations past. 

Unique Features: Ceglie Messapica’s culinary prowess shines as a haven for gastronomes, offering a treasure trove of traditional Apulian flavors. Its warm, community-oriented ambiance fosters a sense of belonging, inviting you to partake in local celebrations and forge meaningful connections.

Casarano: Where Heritage and Contemporary Flourish
Population: 20,000

Nestled in the heart of Salento, Casarano seamlessly blends historical richness with a modern pulse. Its charming streets wind through architectural marvels, revealing layers of centuries-old stories. Casarano’s uniqueness lies in its ability to offer a dynamic cultural experience while preserving its authentic essence.

Unique Features: Casarano’s elegant palaces, churches, and squares pay homage to its past, while a vibrant arts scene and cultural events reflect its present vitality. The town’s energetic atmosphere is complemented by local markets and traditional festivals that celebrate its culinary delights and artistic expressions.

Giovinazzo: A Seaside Gem on the Adriatic
Population: 20,000

Nestled along the sun-kissed shores of the Adriatic Sea, Giovinazzo exudes the irresistible charm of a coastal Italian town. Its cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings, and picturesque harbor create an enchanting backdrop for a relaxed lifestyle. Giovinazzo’s uniqueness lies in its coastal beauty, historical heritage, and the gentle hum of daily life near the sea.

Unique Features: Giovinazzo’s well-preserved medieval walls encircle a labyrinth of alleys that lead to charming squares and local markets. The town’s maritime character is celebrated through fishing traditions and seafood cuisine, offering a true taste of coastal living. As the waves gently lap against the shore, Giovinazzo’s vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by its welcoming community.

Casamassima: Where Tradition and Progress Embrace
Population: 19,000

Nestled in the heart of Puglia, Casamassima unveils a captivating blend of old-world charm and modern vitality. This vibrant town strikes a harmonious balance between its historical roots and a contemporary lifestyle, offering a unique experience for residents and visitors alike. Casamassima’s uniqueness lies in its ability to honor tradition while embracing innovation.

Unique Features: Casamassima’s historic center echoes with echoes of the past, inviting you to explore its narrow streets and ancient architecture. The town’s strong sense of community shines through its local festivals and events, where you can immerse yourself in cultural celebrations. Modern amenities seamlessly coexist with traditional trattorias, creating a diverse culinary landscape.

Carovigno: A Coastal Jewel of Puglia
Population: 18,000

Nestled along the glistening Adriatic coastline, Carovigno exudes the essence of Puglia’s coastal charm. This enchanting town boasts a seamless fusion of history and nature, where ancient architecture stands in harmony with the azure sea. Carovigno’s uniqueness lies in its captivating blend of a tranquil seaside retreat and a lively local culture.

Unique Features: Carovigno’s iconic Castle of Dentice di Frasso graces the skyline, a testament to its medieval heritage. As a haven for gastronomy, the town tantalizes taste buds with locally sourced delights and a celebrated culinary scene. The warm community spirit creates a sense of belonging, inviting residents and visitors alike to partake in cultural events and festivals.

Polignano a Mare: Cliffside Elegance by the Sea
Population: 18,000

Perched dramatically on rocky cliffs overlooking the Adriatic, Polignano a Mare captivates with its breathtaking coastal beauty. Its dazzling azure waters and charming streets weave a story of timeless allure and modern vibrancy. Polignano a Mare’s uniqueness lies in its stunning coastal setting and artistic inspiration.

Unique Features: Polignano a Mare’s historic center is a maze of narrow streets that lead to panoramic viewpoints and hidden corners. The town’s stunning coves and sea caves are a haven for swimmers and explorers. Its enchanting atmosphere has inspired artists and writers, contributing to a rich cultural legacy.

Leverano: A Blend of Elegance and Natural Beauty
Population: 15,000

Nestled in the enchanting landscape of Salento, Leverano unveils a harmonious fusion of historical grace and stunning surroundings. Its quaint streets wind through Baroque architecture and olive groves, creating an inviting atmosphere that captures the essence of the region. Leverano’s uniqueness lies in its ability to offer a serene retreat while celebrating its winemaking heritage.

Unique Features: Leverano’s charming historic center is adorned with ornate details and charming squares, inviting you to wander and explore. The town’s renowned wineries contribute to its allure, where wine tastings and vineyard tours provide an authentic taste of local life. Festivals and cultural events showcase traditional music, dance, and flavors.

Oria: Where History and Modernity Converge
Population: 15,000

Nestled in the sun-soaked region of Puglia, Oria unveils its captivating blend of ancient allure and contemporary vibrancy. This picturesque town is a living testament to the passage of time, with its medieval architecture harmoniously coexisting with modern life. Oria’s uniqueness lies in its ability to seamlessly blend historical treasures with a dynamic present, creating a charming tapestry of traditions and innovation.

Unique Features: Oria’s impressive castle, standing as a sentinel from centuries past, casts a captivating aura over the town. The labyrinthine streets lead to quaint squares, where locals gather to celebrate age-old festivals and indulge in regional gastronomy. The town’s welcoming atmosphere and community spirit add an inviting touch, fostering a sense of belonging.

Maglie: A Cultural Jewel of Salento
Population: 14,000

Nestled in the captivating landscapes of Salento, Maglie beckons with its blend of history, art, and authentic Italian ambiance. Its charming streets meander through ornate facades and picturesque squares, showcasing a harmonious fusion of architectural marvels and modern vitality. Maglie’s uniqueness lies in its role as a cultural haven that captivates residents and visitors alike.

Unique Features: Maglie’s historic palaces and churches stand as a testament to its noble past, while vibrant street art and contemporary galleries add a modern twist. The town’s warm community spirit is evident in its traditional festivals and open-air markets, immersing you in local life.

Locorotondo: Timeless Beauty in a Circular Haven
Population: 14,000

Nestled atop a picturesque hill in Puglia, Locorotondo enchants with its unique circular layout and pristine white-washed buildings. The town’s panoramic vistas and charming streets create an ambiance of tranquility and serenity. Locorotondo’s uniqueness lies in its architectural elegance, earning it the accolade of being one of Italy’s “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful villages).

Unique Features: Locorotondo’s labyrinthine alleys reveal a captivating blend of Baroque and Renaissance architecture. The town’s white facades and flower-adorned balconies create a postcard-worthy setting. Local artisans showcase their crafts, and traditional festivals invite you to celebrate with locals through dance, music, and delectable cuisine.

Cisternino: A Timeless Jewel in the Heart of Puglia
Population: 12,000

Nestled amidst rolling hills and olive groves, Cisternino exudes an ageless charm that transports you to another era. Its whitewashed buildings, narrow streets, and enchanting alleys paint a picture of serenity and simplicity. Cisternino’s uniqueness lies in its preservation of traditional architecture and its ability to create an atmosphere of tranquility.

Unique Features: Cisternino’s historic center stands as a living canvas of medieval and Baroque influences. Its “cummerse” – rooftop terraces – offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Local markets burst with fresh produce and artisanal crafts, while the town’s culinary scene presents a delectable journey into Apulian flavors.

Alberobello: Whimsical Trulli Magic
Population: 11,000

Nestled in the enchanting region of Puglia, Alberobello unveils a world of architectural wonder with its iconic trulli houses. These traditional limestone dwellings, with their distinctive conical roofs, create a surreal landscape that feels straight out of a fairy tale. Alberobello’s uniqueness lies in its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its ability to transport visitors to a bygone era.

Unique Features: Alberobello’s trulli district is a living museum, where history and tradition blend seamlessly. The town’s charming streets wind through these timeless structures, housing craft shops, cafés, and galleries. Festivals and events celebrate local culture, inviting you to immerse yourself in traditional dances, music, and flavors.

San Pietro Vernotico: A Tranquil Enclave of Puglia
Population: 10,000

Nestled in the idyllic landscapes of Puglia, San Pietro Vernotico offers a serene escape adorned with the charm of a quintessential Italian village. Its intimate streets wind through timeless architecture, narrating stories of generations past. The town’s uniqueness lies in its ability to envelop visitors in an atmosphere of tranquility and authenticity.

Unique Features: San Pietro Vernotico’s unassuming beauty captivates with a sense of simplicity and warmth. The town’s traditional markets, where fresh produce and local crafts abound, create a connection to its agricultural roots. The close-knit community spirit is palpable during festivals and events, providing a glimpse into local traditions and culture.

Valenzano: A Harmonious Blend of Past and Present
Population: 10,000

Nestled in the heart of Puglia, Valenzano offers a captivating fusion of historical charm and modern vibrancy. Its quaint streets and elegant buildings reflect a rich history, while a dynamic community spirit ensures a lively and engaging atmosphere. Valenzano’s uniqueness lies in its ability to embrace tradition while embracing contemporary living.

Unique Features: Valenzano’s historical center boasts well-preserved architecture, inviting residents and visitors to stroll through its charming alleys. The town’s local markets, festivals, and cultural events provide a glimpse into its vibrant soul. Modern conveniences seamlessly integrate with traditional cafés and artisan shops, creating a diverse and immersive experience.

Latiano: A Tranquil Haven in Puglia’s Heart
Population: 9,000

Nestled amid the picturesque landscapes of Puglia, Latiano offers a serene retreat steeped in history and local charm. Its tranquil streets wind through a blend of architectural treasures, showcasing a seamless fusion of past and present. Latiano’s uniqueness lies in its understated beauty and the sense of tranquility it bestows upon both residents and visitors.

Unique Features: Latiano’s historical core boasts architectural gems that narrate stories of its past. The town’s relaxed pace of life is complemented by vibrant local festivals, celebrating traditions and art. The warm embrace of the community fosters a strong sense of belonging, making Latiano an inviting destination.

San Cesario di Lecce: A Quintessential Lecce Experience
Population: 8,000

Nestled on the outskirts of Lecce, San Cesario di Lecce captures the essence of Southern Italy’s charm. This quaint town showcases a harmonious blend of historical richness and a laid-back lifestyle, providing a genuine taste of Salento’s cultural heritage. San Cesario di Lecce’s uniqueness lies in its proximity to the bustling city of Lecce while maintaining a serene village ambiance.

Unique Features: San Cesario di Lecce boasts remarkable Baroque architecture, with ornate facades and intricate details adorning its churches and buildings. The town comes alive with local festivals and feasts, where traditional music and dance celebrate the region’s traditions. Its tranquil squares and winding streets provide a peaceful retreat, while nearby Lecce offers an array of cultural and culinary delights.

Ugento: Seaside Splendor with Historical Grace
Population: 8,000

Nestled along the Ionian coast, Ugento unfolds as a coastal gem where history and natural beauty intertwine. Its pristine beaches, adorned with turquoise waters, provide a serene backdrop to the town’s rich historical heritage. Ugento’s uniqueness lies in its ability to offer a perfect blend of relaxation and cultural exploration.

Unique Features: Ugento’s archaeological treasures, including ancient ruins and medieval architecture, showcase its rich past. The town’s proximity to beautiful sandy beaches offers an ideal escape for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts. Ugento’s annual cultural events and local festivals infuse the atmosphere with traditional music, dance, and flavors.

Matino: Enchanting Charms of the Salento Peninsula
Population: 8,000

Nestled in the heart of the Salento Peninsula, Matino enchants with its timeless appeal and picturesque beauty. Its narrow alleys, adorned with historic architecture, offer a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage. Matino’s uniqueness lies in its quaint authenticity and its position as a gateway to explore the Salento’s treasures.

Unique Features: Matino’s historic center boasts intricate details and charming courtyards that invite leisurely strolls. The town’s tranquil ambiance is complemented by lively local markets and traditional festivals, celebrating the region’s folklore and flavors. Matino’s strategic location allows easy access to both Adriatic and Ionian coastlines, making it a coveted destination for beach enthusiasts.

Novoli: Where Tradition and Modernity Converge
Population: 7,000

Located in the heart of Puglia, Novoli offers a captivating blend of historical richness and contemporary vibrancy. Its picturesque streets wind through charming architecture, reflecting a balance between its past and its dynamic present. Novoli’s uniqueness lies in its ability to honor traditions while embracing innovation and progress.

Unique Features: Novoli’s historical core boasts well-preserved buildings and churches that narrate stories of its heritage. The town’s community spirit comes alive through vibrant local festivals, where traditional music, dance, and gastronomy unite residents and visitors alike.

Campi Salentina: A Quaint Oasis of Heritage and Tranquility
Population: 6,000

Located in the heart of Salento, Campi Salentina exudes the timeless allure of an Italian village steeped in tradition. Its cobblestone streets wind through historic architecture, invoking a sense of nostalgia and authenticity. Campi Salentina’s uniqueness lies in its ability to offer a serene retreat while remaining connected to the vibrant pulse of local life.

Unique Features: Campi Salentina’s central piazza serves as the heart of the town, where locals gather for animated conversations and festive gatherings. The town’s proud heritage is showcased through its well-preserved churches and cultural events, celebrating both ancient and contemporary arts.

San Michele Salentino: A Tranquil Oasis in Southern Italy
Population: 6,000

Nestled amidst the sun-kissed landscapes of Puglia, San Michele Salentino beckons with its tranquil ambiance and authentic Italian charm. This hidden gem embodies the spirit of a traditional Salentine village, where cobblestone streets wind through whitewashed houses adorned with vibrant flowers. What sets San Michele Salentino apart is its serene atmosphere, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustle of modern life.

Unique Features: San Michele Salentino’s warm community spirit invites you to experience a genuine sense of belonging. The town’s piazzas come alive with local festivals, showcasing traditional music, dance, and culinary delights. Its strategic location allows easy access to both the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, making it a haven for beach enthusiasts.

Otranto: Where History and Coastal Splendor Converge
Population: 5,800

Unique Features: Otranto’s Aragonese Castle and awe-inspiring cathedral showcase its historical significance, while the town’s vibrant art scene and cultural events reflect its contemporary vibrancy. The pristine beaches and turquoise waters beckon sun-seekers and water enthusiasts, creating an idyllic coastal retreat.

Over to you

Retiring in Puglia under the 7% tax program offers numerous benefits. Not only does this region provide a charming and unique atmosphere, but it also boasts a lower cost of living compared to other popular retirement destinations. Towns such as Ceglie Messapica and Oria offer picturesque landscapes and historical sites, making them ideal places to explore and call home. The trulli houses in Alberobello and the beautiful beaches in Carovigno are just some of the unique features that give these towns a distinct character. Additionally, Puglia offers a high quality of life, with its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and delicious cuisine. The 7% tax program further adds to the appeal of retiring in Puglia, allowing retirees to enjoy significant tax savings. Consequently, Puglia should be seriously considered as a retirement destination for its charm, affordability, and unparalleled lifestyle opportunities. 

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