Abstract The relationship between people and places is characterized by affective and cognitive dimensions, defined, respectively, as place attachment and identification. This paper aims at clarifying differences between place attachment and identification by (1) identifying their predictors in a structural equation model and (2) exploring their association with the environmental perception. To this purpose, we conducted a research on a sample of 328 residents of a city in the north of Italy. Results show that the affective and the cognitive dimensions (1) are directly predicted by different demographical and psychosocial variables and (2) are strictly associated to the perception of the place and its inhabitants. Place attachment and identification are two distinct but correlated components. Semantic contents related to the environmental perception are described in respect to different levels of attachment and identification.