Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Under measures agreed by the Italian government last week, the administrative map of Italy will, by 2014, look very different from the one we see today and the main casualties of this reorganisation are many of the country's provinces.  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Italian administrative system, the country is divided into 20 regions, five of which, including Sicily, have special statutes which give them a greater degree of autonomy. The regions are subdivided into provinces, made up of various comuni or town councils. The main responsibilities of the provincial tier of government have hitherto been local planning, policing, fire services and transport [the health service being administrated at regional level] but under the new measures provincial government will only be responsible for environmental planning, transport and road systems.

Any proposed change to the number or responsibilities of the provinces has always been deeply controversial and of course there are a lot of vested interests here.  There are those who worry about the possibility of government becoming too "big" and impersonal, just as there are those who worry about what happens when it is too "small" and there are also many who believe that the entire provincial tier of government is wasteful and useless.

A desire on the part of central governmment to reform the system is not new and the last government had also proposed sweeping changes.  The Monti government, with its spending review, has decided that change there must be and that it must take place in what, for Italy, is a remarkably short time scale.

It has been agreed that a province must have a minimum of 350,000 inhabitants and cover a minimum area of 2,500 sq. kilometres. The population requirement was at first set at 300,000 and for this reason it was thought that Ragusa, with 308,103 inhabitants, would be saved.  Then the goalposts were moved.  The area requirement, though, has gone down rather than up - it was originally 3,000 sq. kilometres - and this change has saved the mainland provinces of Bergamo and Pavia [ Lombardy], Vicenza [Veneto] Modena [Emilia-Romagna] and Lecce [Puglia] among others.  Sicily will lose five of its nine provinces, namely Caltanissetta, Enna, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani.  Palermo, Agrigento, Catania and Messina remain and Ragusa will be incorporated into the Province of Catania.

Sicily, as a region with special statute, has six months to "prepare" but in yet another of those Italian omissions which may or may not be just an oversight, no one has any idea what sanctions will be applied by central government if the region fails to do so.

Ten mainland "metropolitan areas" will become new provinces called "metropolitan cities" by 1st January 2014 and these are: Rome, Turin, Milan, Venice, Genova, Bologna, Firenze, Bari, Napoli and Reggio Calabria.

In its wisdom the govenment has decided to leave local festivals and saints' days that constitute a local holiday alone so the "new" and bigger provincial administrations will not be able to order town councils to cut these holidays.  This is not a concession made out of a "live and let live" attitude but a carefully researched austerity measure:  quite simply, not enough money would be saved by doing otherwise.

In all, 64 of Italy's 107 provinces are scheduled to disappear in order to "make Italy more efficient and give it a more modern administrative system".

Hmm.....  "Pazienza... vediamo"  ["Patience - we shall see"] as the Sicilians say.


Betty said...

I found that very interesting. I can't imagine anything like that happening here. People would be jumping up and down screaming and yelling. It makes me wonder if Italy has every done anything like that before...

LindyLouMac said...

I dread all this though not sure yet if it will mean changes in our region of Alto Lazio.

Jenny Woolf said...

I hate this kind of reorganisation. I can't really see that it is ever necessary. Just work for bureaucrats. Not what anyone needs when the financial situation is so tricky.

James Higham said...

Phew - for a moment I thought you were referring to the elimination of Ragusa itself.

Whispering Walls said...

Is that Rigor Monti's idea?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Betty. Yes, there have been reprganisations before. Today regional governors have protested. Hi, LindyLouMac. I understand that in Lazio, the provinces of Latina, Viterbo and Rieti will go. Hi, Jenny. I think it is necessary in Italy because there is so much wastage in local government. Hi, James. No,m not the town. Hi, WW. Not originally but the details have been worked out by his government.


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