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The future of Italy will depend on collaboration between Metropolitan Cities and non-metropolitan areas

Metropolitan Cities constitute the “backbone” of Italy and—through the functional and economic interrelationships with other non-metropolitan areas—contribute to the competitiveness of the nation and its local areas from a number of aspects.

The future of Italy will depend on collaboration between Metropolitan Cities and non-metropolitan areas

Today, an important contribution to the new global challenges is being offered in Italy by the newly-formed Metropolitan Cities.

Overall, the 14 Italian Metropolitan Cities:

  • extend over a surface area of nearly 50,000 km2, equal to 5% of the country’s land area;
  • involve 1,328 municipalities (16.5% of the national total);
  • have concentrated in them 22.1 million people (4% of the national population) and 9.6 million families.

The “snapshot” of metropolitan Italy would appear to be very heterogeneous in terms of land area, and demographic and economic weight. For example, the Metropolitan Cities covering the largest surface area are Turin (6,827 km2) and Rome (5,363 km2), while at the other extreme are Milan (1,576 km2), Genoa (1,834 km2) and Naples (1,179 km2). Turin and Milan contain, respectively, 315 and 134 municipalities, compared with Florence’s 42 and Bari’s 41. In terms of wealth generated, Milan, Rome and Turin are at the top for Added Value, with a clear gap compared with the situation of cities in Italy’s south.

Start City_Figure 1-Major statistics

The Italian Metropolitan Cities are a driver for the economy thanks to their ability to contribute to revenue creation and offer opportunities to all those who decide to invest their resources in the area. In these areas of the nation:

  • over 40% of national Added Value is produced (approx. 600 billion euros in 2014);
  • 30% of Italian exports are generated, worth 112 billion euros;
  • 8 million companies have their headquarters, equal to 35% of all companies, as well as 56% of the foreign companies with offices in Italy;
  • 31% of Italian artisans (434,000) work in these areas;
  • 35% of those employed in Italy (7.9 million) work here.

Start City_Figure 2-Overview

Start City_Figure 3-Comparison growth rate populationOn an aggregate level and for the period 2007-2014, Italian Metropolitan Cities registered an average annual growth rate of the resident population of +0.4% (compared with the national average of +0.3%) and Added Value of +1.2% (compared with a 0.7% Italian average), with a more marked role, especially for the 10 Metropolitan Cities on the Italian mainland.

Trends higher than the national average are also seen for attractiveness, especially on an international level: approx. 70% of foreign direct investment (FDI) entering Italy is catalyzed by the Metropolitan Cities.

Metropolitan areas are also distinguished for being logistical hubs and strategic points of intersection for flows of people and goods, and are catalyzers of innovation and research thanks to the concentration of universities, research centers, business incubators and start-ups.

But the future of Italy and its local territories does not depend solely on the Metropolitan Cities. The non-metropolitan areas also represent a central factor for the country’s economic and social development. They offer a diversified picture, comprised of 6,719 municipalities (83.5% of the total) and nearly 40 million people (64% of the total).

Start City_Figura 4-Metropolitan Cities-Non-metropolitan ItalyTherefore, the extent and quality of the country’s development is one and the same as the quality (i.e., efficiency and efficacy) of the relationship between metropolitan and non-metropolitan Italy.

This is evident on a number of levels:

  • 8 Italian regions, equal to about 12% of the Added Value and the national population, out of 20 do not benefit from the presence of a Metropolitan City;
  • in the majority of regions that have a Metropolitan City, the impact of this on regional GDP is, on average, over 40%;
  • the national productive fabric is organized on the basis of a widespread multi-polar model with numerous centers, districts and local examples of excellence in non-metropolitan areas;
  • the instances of interdependence and cross-flow between areas is generally extremely significant;
  • the country’s social-urban framework is oriented, also because of cultural tradition, around medium- and medium-small cities (compared to the average of European cities, Italy is over-represented by urban centers of less than 100,000 inhabitants, and under-represented by those between 100,000 and 250,000 inhabitants).

The future of Italy comprised of cities and local areas will be played out on the collaboration between two levels:

  • the Metropolitan Cities that constitute the “nodes” of accumulation and development of the country from a social-economic standpoint;
  • the complex network of medium-sized cities spread throughout the country which are equally important in terms of wealth of resources, quality of the productive fabric and social and cultural patrimony.

For this reason, collaboration and operational interconnectedness must be promoted between Metropolitan Cities and non-metropolitan areas in order to maximize the full potential offered by their respective economic-productive and social systems, through activating synergies and pooling the assets found in the various areas to generate value for the entire country and its economy.

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