The period between the crisis of the world oil market, which arose during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, and the early nineties can be counted among those of the most profound economic, social and territorial transformation of the country. The transformations involved demographic trends, the field of demographic exchanges with foreign countries, the weight exerted by the productive sectors in the life of the country, the energy balance, the exploitation of marine resources, the organization of cities and the organization of urban networks, environmental governance and international relations.
Significant transformations have then had as their object the Italian administrative fabric which, since 1990, has been affected by subsequent and relevant interventions by the legislator. In particular, the organization of the Italian territorial systems is destined to be significantly influenced by the enactment of l. 142 of 1990 relating to the “Order of local autonomies” with which the legislator has provided for the identification of nine metropolitan areas on the national territory (Turin, Milan, Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Bari, Naples), delegating to the regions with a special statute the possibility of adding others (and in fact bringing the number to 12, with the inclusion of Palermo, Catania and Cagliari). The regions concerned would have had one year at their disposal, from the entry into force of the law, to provide for the delimitation of each ” metropolitan area ” (to which Law 142 assigned functions corresponding to those exercised by the province) and within 18 months the same regions should have reorganized the territorial districts of the municipalities of the metropolitan area. On the basis of this mechanism, in the provinces where the metropolitan area is located, the entire structure of the administrative districts is destined to be redesigned.
Also during the early nineties, eight new provinces were established (see below: Establishment of the new provinces) which constitute the first nucleus of new administrative units. In fact, there are three groups of new municipal districts: a) the eight administrative units established during 1991 and for which the recognition procedures had been initiated before the entry into force of l. 142 (Biella and Verbania in Piedmont, Lecco and Lodi in Lombardy, Prato in Tuscany, Rimini in Emilia-Romagna, Crotone and Vibo Valentia in Calabria); b) other new provincial circumscriptions for which the request for establishment was formalized after the entry into force of the law on the reorganization of local autonomies and whose recognition is expected in the short term (compared to 1993); there are four potential provinces: Castrovillari in Calabria, Fermo in the Marche, Avezzano and Sulmona in Abruzzo; c) the districts that should come to light later, as a consequence of the establishment of metropolitan areas. As regards this category, it should be remembered that, in the first half of 1993, studies to plan metropolitan areas were still in progress, so that the concrete consequences that this reform would have in the Italian administrative geography were not yet foreseeable. However, it is believed that the implications will be profound, especially in regions characterized by vast urban formations, even – as happens along the Padana route, on the strip of territory between Rome and Naples, and along the north-Tyrrhenian arc – from the perspective of formation of tiny megacities.
In important parts of the national territory, the transformation of the geography of the provincial districts will be associated with that of the geography of the municipal districts. In fact, in nine regions, the structure of the municipal districts included in the metropolitan areas being established will have to be reorganized in relation to the establishment of the area. This will involve the suppression of municipalities, the transformation of the constituencies of others and the establishment of new ones.