We'll rent initially. We could pick Brescia, Bologna, Turin or Ferrara.
Ferrara is a "nice size" and very pretty, plus it's very cheap.
From there we can explore - fast trains to/from/between all the major cities in the north - and decide the next move.
I know this is an odd thing to say, but Italy is "honestly corrupt".
An example: in this village developers submitted plans for 85 new homes with various promises about the resulting look and certain facilities. I have the plans here, since I was on the village committee at the time. They also had to "donate" £250,000 to be used by the village for "improvements". Let's just say the consultation on usage wasn't exactly transparent and there's no evidence of anything coming of that.
After that was granted, they began building and the resulting development is nothing vaguely like what was on the planning applications. It bears almost no relation whatsoever except for the number of houses and they've only done phase one because they can't sell them so years later, it still resembles a building site. None of the planned amenities were provided and one area of it has been turned into a wedding venue which is woefully inappropriate given entry and exit is down a tiny back lane.
Buses get stuck, people get lost, they knock on the doors of neighbouring houses at all hours, park on their lawns, ask if they wouldn't mind if they come in and get changed.. people have actually sold up and moved on. Or tried to.
Literally nothing has been done about any of this.
A lot of the corruption in Italy is of the same variety (see Suburra La Serie, Gomorrah etc) - clearly Italy is indeed more corrupt and in many ways basically useless, rubbish piles up in Rome's streets because their state services are so piss-miserably managed, they have "baby pensioners" which are a constant source of annoyance for people - these were civil servants allowed to retire at 50 which the country could ill afford.. I could go on.
I just think that our corruption is "more sophisticated" - see Brexit for a worked example.